Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Thanks to good friend and avid blog follower Paul Sabolic, it was finally . . . 


Paul is a Dodger season ticket holder and was not be able to attend the game due to a work commitment. When he offered us the tickets we thought it over for about 12 milliseconds before enthusiastically saying "YES!!!"

As with everything in our lives, the pandemic had played the major part in our not seeing a game in Chavez Ravine for a long, long time.

We also used the game as an excuse to go out for a pre-game meal at one of our favorite, iconic downtown Los Angeles eatery.

Philippe's is over 100 year old and a
perfect spot to dine before a Dodger game

I'm sure that they serve other things besides French dipped sandwiches but I have no clue what they might be with one or two exceptions.

Our order

A pork French dipped sandwich for each of us with a slab of strong bleu cheese and a dash of Philippe's spicy mustard.

Laurie had her customary beer while I indulged myself with two lemonades.

We shared one of those exceptions to the Philippe's menu, a slice of apple pie.

We instantly recognized that the roll the sandwich was served in was not the same one as usual. Truth be told, it was not as good as I remembered but I'm ready to go back and give them another chance soon.

Besides changing the lineup system to order your food to conform with anti-coronavirus protocols, we noticed one other obvious difference at Philippe's on this pleasant Spring afternoon.

Traditionally, the ladies who take your food order and make your sandwiches in front of you while you wait are, shall we kindly say, experienced veterans of the culinary arts.

Tonight, they were young ladies in their late 20s or early 30s. We guessed that fear of contracting Covid-19 may have forced a generational change in the work staff.

Fully sated, it was time to head the Dodger Stadium, a.k.a., Blue Heaven on Earth.

We needed to adapt to more anti-coronavirus countermeasures in place at the ballpark.

First, you must pre-pay on line for parking. The rates are now $25/car in the general lots or $50/car to the park in one of the preferred lots. Please be sure to have your proof of purchase on your smart phone for scanning.

Preferred Parking is a part
of the season ticket plan

Again, no paper tickets to get into this still gorgeous ballpark that first opened in 1962 making it the third oldest stadium in major league baseball after only Boston's Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (1914). The scanning of our electronic tickets on my iPhone once again went off without a hitch, we were in.

Lots of murals are smartly
found throughout Dodger Stadium,
Home of the 2020 World Champions

Mural of the commemorative pin that
we got during the 2010 campaign

We arrived in time to catch the end
of the Reds batting practice

The old ballpark still looked GREAT to me!

The view from our seats in
Loge Section 132, Row A, Seats 7 &8


Social distancing and limited seating were both strictly in play at the ballpark as blocks of seats were roped off.

In our eight seat row, a couple sat in seats 1 & 2, we sat in seats 7 & 8 and seats 3-6 were roped off. The entire row behind us was closed to spectator use.

The purchase of all souvenir, dining items and beverages could only be done by debit or credit cards, no cash allowed.

The Dodgers were doing everything they could to help stop the spread of the pandemic.

Still, we were two Happy Campers!

Now, let's set the game up.

The Dodgers entered the contest tied with the hated ones, the San Francisco Giants, for first place in the National League's West Division with a 15-8 record. Unfortunately, the Boys in Blue had lost seven of their last nine games.

As for the Reds, they were currently in fourth place in the NL Central Division with a 10-12 record and had also lost seven of their last nine games. 

Walker Buehler's first pitch of the
game to Reds' left fielder Jesse Winker
was blasted deep into the Right Field
Pavilion for a home run and an early 1-0 lead

Buehler settled down to strike out the next three batters to end the opening frame in what was an up-and-down outing for the young Dodger ace. While he totaled ten strikeouts, he also allowed five runs and seven hits in his 6 1/3 innings on the mound.

The Dodgers would lose this one by a final score of 6-5 in garnering only four hits while leaving 12 runners stranded on base. Eight walks certainly helped the Dodgers offensive efforts.

It must be noted that in the bottom of the fourth inning with the Reds ahead 1-0, Laurie channeled her inner Tommy Lasorda and made a bold prediction.

At a time when Los Angeles was still hitless, she announced that Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner and first baseman Max Muncy would both walk and then catcher Will Smith would hit a home run.

And that is EXACTLY what happened, Dodgers 3 - Reds 1.

Unfortunately she had no other positive Dodger vibes the rest of the way.

On a final note, one must remember that the Dodgers traditionally lead MLB in home attendance. In pre-pandemic season of 2019, they averaged about 49,000 spectators per game. Due to the anti-Covid 19 measures, only about 15,000 fans are allowed into current Dodger games.

It makes for short lines at all the concession booths and restroom. Getting out of Dodger Stadium to get to the freeway is usually a nightmare. Given the tiny crowd, we were on the Hollywood Freeway heading to Camarillo about five minutes after getting into our car.



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Atascadero at Pioneer Valley Game


Mon.-Mon., April 19-26, 2021

A good week that was highlighted by our first overnight trip in I don't know how long.

If you recall, I was asked to journey about two hours north of Camarillo on two occasions this past September and October to give coaching clinics to the staff at Pioneer Valley H.S. on the topics of the Delaware Wing-T offense, the Kicking Game and Program Organization.

The Panthers had only won one game in 2019 and wanted to make the necessary changes to turn their program in the right direction during this unique pandemic countermeasure Spring high school football season.

After having their first two games cancelled due to a positive Covid-19 test on their team, the Panthers had enjoyed a good season with wins over Mission Prep (13-6) and cross town rival Santa Maria (34-14). Their lone loss, and a close one at that, this Spring was to Ocean League Champion Nipomo (13-21).

Thus Laurie and I headed north to see the Panthers play their last game of the season, at home vs. the Atascadero Greyhounds.

We opted to drive up slowly on Friday morning to enjoy distance-appropriate stops in Solvang, Los Olivos and Pismo Beach before settling into our digs at the Historic Santa Maria Inn before the scheduled 6:00 p.m. Kickoff.

The Greyhounds were 0-5
going into this contest

As stated, the Panthers were 2-1
going into the game

The pre-game article in the Santa Maria Times stated that this should be an easy victory for the Pioneer Valley squad.

Bulletin board material for Atascadero and a source of fodder for overconfident teenage Panther minds as well. I thought that it could be a factor in the game, especially in the early going.

But first, let's take a look at delightful Solvang, the Danish themed city in California's Central Coast area.

Laurie and I back in the 1960s?

Laurie and I today perhaps

Everyone was wearing their
face masks including this fellow


We had a solid breakfast in Solvang that included an order of that Danish treat, æbleskiver! Afterwards, some shopping was the call of the morning first in Solvang and then about seven miles away in Los Olivos.

We also did some much needed strolling through Pismo Beach before eating an early dinner at one of our favorite spots, Mo's BBQ.

It was nearing game time so we were off to Pioneer Valley H.S. to meet Nicole Beck, the wife of the Panthers' Head Coach John Beck who had our hard-to-get tickets to the contest that had limited fans allowed in due to the pandemic.

Panthers in black warming up

A successful on-side KO by Atascadero
to start the game

It was just the spark that an 0-5 Atascadero squad needed to start a game that was billed as an easy victory for Pioneer Valley by the media.

The Greyhounds looked like
anything but an 0-5 club
in the first half

The underdog Greyhounds showed a lot of grit in leading 12-7 at the end of the First Quarter and only trailing 14-12 at Halftime.

Then the Panthers got serious.

In the Third Quarter, Pioneer Valley dominated by scoring 26 unanswered points to extend their lead to 40-12 after 36 minutes of play.

An early Fourth Quarter TD called for a running clock and the Panthers ended their season with a 47-12 victory and a 3-1 record, a far cry from their 1-9 during their last campaign in 2019.

As for the now 0-6 Greyhounds, they have one more game this coming Friday at home against the 4-2 Paso Robles Bearcats.

After a good night's sleep in the Historic Santa Maria Inn, we were scheduled to take another leisurely drive home, this time driving through the Lompoc Valley before stopping in Buellton for lunch at the Hitching Post for some amazing BBQ ribs.

We had a problem.

The 1-0 Varese Skorpions were
playing the 1-0 Cernusco Daemons
at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Savings
time and it was being live streamed

It was also the Skorpions first game in
Varese's large velodrome/soccer stadium
So, what to do?

We watched the First Quarter in our hotel room before heading on our way home.

When we arrived at the hitching post about an hour later, the game was mysteriously still in the last gasps of the Second Quarter. I've been led to believe that injuries to both teams was the reason for slow pace of the game.

We cracked open a bottle of
Laurie's favorite wine before
the ribs arrived

At this point we made the conscious decision that while I enjoyed my one glass, Laurie would finish the bottle while we both watched the Second Half of the Skorpions game on my phone.

A glass of wine, a game on the phone,
BBQ ribs and an ostrich farm in behind

Well, how about a stirring come from
behind victory for your
favorite Italian DII team?

The Varese eleven were down 13-14 with about three minutes left in the game when lightning struck in the form of a miracle TD pass, a successful two-point conversion pass and then a pick-six with a positive PAT kick to seal the deal!

The normal DII season is an eight game affair, this year with teams opting out, only six contests make up the Skorpions Girone (League) B slate.

The Skorpions and Daemons appear to be the class of the Girone so this win by 14 points is huge!

The two teams will meet again on June 6th in Cernusco. It should be a great one again I suspect.

2-0 is a GOOD thing!

Mary got a surprise Build-a-Bear
from her Daisy Scouts on Sunday
for her efforts in the annual
Girl Scouts Cookies sales efforts

She named her Daisy.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The California Spring Football Season Comes to a Close


Tues.-Sun., April 13-18, 2021

A restful week morphed into an American football intense weekend, but first . . .

Laurie and I took the time to visit
the Ventura Harbor

We were still sporting our face masks but felt the confidence that only two fully vaccinated senior citizens can during these troubled times.

We even ate lunch at Brophy Brothers
with a good view of the harbor

This Public Service Reminder is
meant especially for fully
vaccinated senior citizens!

Friday night heralded the end of our 2021 Spring season of Ventura Orthopedics/ Ventura County Star Game of the Week broadcasts.

I would be joined by Danny Page who got me into the broadcast booth initially about five years ago after an evening at a bar in Barcelona while watching a Euro Cup soccer match between Croatia and Portugal.

Danny now lives in Barcelona full time while I'm still residing in glorious Camarillo. He was visiting SoCal for the last three weeks and would be his usual flawless self as our play-by-play commentator this evening.

As for the game itself, it promised to be a real corker.

And it was.

The Oxnard Yellowjackets (3-1)

The Pacifica Tritons (4-0)

These two intense rivals are both located on the city of Oxnard's Gonzales Road about three miles apart.

As a backstory, during the 2019 season, the last one in California before the pandemic hit, the Tritons were 15-1 in winning a California State 2-A Championship.

Their only loss that year was to the Yellowjackets, 36-27, that cost the Tritons both the Pacific View League Championship and the bragging rights that accompany the winner of  annual "Battle for Gonzales Road."

Over the 18 year history between Oxnard's oldest high school, OHS, and its newest, PHS, the Yellowjackets hold a decisive 14-4 series lead.

Oxnard victories in 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2019 poured more salt into the series wound as each loss cost Pacifica the Pacific View League title.

During the warm-ups at Pacifica H.S.
it became abundantly clear . . .

It was a BEAUTIFUL night
for American football!

With Diego Renteria
before the OHS-PHS game

Diego played for us at Rio Mesa H.S. and became a referee soon after graduating. A full time nurse on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic he has also become one of Ventura County's best officials.

We somehow meet once a season for our traditional pre-game picture. Great fun seeing him again Friday night.

Our son Michael took this picture
of his computer screen as Joe Curly
and I did our pre-game show

Granddaughter Mary was watching the
broadcast from home too

It was a physical, ground oriented
contest as both schools were starting

For most of the first three quarters it was all Pacifica as they built up a 17-0 lead, then Oxnard finally woke up.

The Yellowjackets exploded for two TDs and a two point conversion to narrow the Pacifica lead to just 17-14 a plenty of time to tie or win the game in regulation.

It was not meant to be as the Pacifica offense got a few much needed, time consuming first downs to end the game as the Spring 2021 Pacific View League Champions.

There will be no sectional or state playoffs this year in California, so this was the end of the road for these two clubs this Spring.

They will meet again near the end of the Fall 2021 campaign in what should be another great game.

The following OHS-PHS game photos are courtesy of the Ventura County Star.

The Tritons Poi Aina ran the ball . . .

. . . as did Oxnard's "Boogie" Franco

It was not a game for the
faint of heart!

Pacifica's Freshman QB
Dayday Aupiu holding the coveted
Gonzales Road street sign that goes to
the winner of the annual OHS-PHS game

Oxnard H.S. is located at 3400 W. Gonzales Road.

Pacifica H.S. can be found at 600 E. Gonzales Road.

Saturday night would offer us another good night of high school football competition as . . .

The Bishop Diego Cardinals (4-0)
traveled to play

The Newbury Park Panthers (1-3)

On paper, this game should have been no contest.

Fortunately, the game was played on a beautiful green field, not on paper.

Our son Michael is the clock operator
this season for NPHS games

I was in the booth to help the NPHS Varsity coaches as a spotter.

Grandson Jacob was with us for both comic relief and to give us his insights into the great game of American football.

I think that he is checking out the
cheerleaders during the JV game

In typical Spring 2021 fashion, Bishop Diego did not have enough players to field a JV team. Over at Moorpark H.S., the Musketeers JV opponent this weekend also had Covid-19 issues.

Thus, it was Newbury Park vs. Moorpark for the second week in a row in the day's pre-lim game. Any game is better than no game.

The Panthers beat the Musketeers handily for the second time this Spring.  

More bonding time
with Jacob

The NPHS locker room
looked sharp and smelled good

This fragrant aroma was both odd and explainable.

Because of Covid-19, players are not allowed in the lockerroom.

We meet up with
Diego Renteria yet again!

He gave Jacob a referee's
hat, jersey, penalty flag and
even a whistle, as he tries to turn 
him to the Dark Side of the game

What an AWESOME gesture!

Thanks Diego!

Also at this game, I ran into a great young man, Mike Dakroob, who was a big part of our football program at Westlake H.S. back in the 1980s. He was at the game with his Seventh-grade, Water Polo playing son who is already taller than Mike.

One of the good guys, it was an unexpected pleasure to see him again.


Jacob's help was invaluable!

Adjusting my microphone

The Panthers had a great game plan in dealing with the bigger, faster and more physical Cardinals while playing their best game of the season.

Unfortunately, it would not be enough as Bishop Diego would pull away in the end to win 33-14.

As the sun set on the 2021 Spring
HS season in California . . .

. . . it rose on the 2021 DII
season in Italy!

The Varese Skorpions (0-0) opened their
2021 season at 5:00 a.m. California
time on Sunday on the road against
the Bergamo Lions (0-0)

The Lions had been the Italian DI bad boys during the period from 1983 to 2008 winning 12 Italian Super Bowls including 11 straight from 1998-2008.

The Lions had gone through a long dry spell in DI and opted to reorganize at the non-import player DII level starting in 2020 before that season was cancelled due to the pandemic.

How would Coach Nick Holt's Skorpions handle the fabled Lions?
Quite easily actually

After building up a dominating 35-0 lead at the intermission, the Second Half was played with a running clock as the Lions dropped to 0-1.

Things should get a lot more interesting next Saturday for the Skorpions (1-0) when the Cernusco Daemons (1-0) invade Varese.

The Daemons beat the Legnano Frogs (0-1) 35-0 on Sunday in the other game in DII's four team Group B circuit.

Meanwhile, in Alicante, Spain on Sunday . . .

The Pioners were closing out
their Spanish Serie B campaign

This is the team that I work with doing video breakdowns and analytics statistics.

The Pioners (6-0) beat the Alicante Sharks (1-4) 55-22 and now head on to the playoffs.

With this victory, the club from the Barcelona suburb of L'Hospitalet finished as the Conferencia Este Champions.

Next up for the Pioners will a Serie B Semi-Final Playoffs game on a date to be determined.

As Conferencia Este Champion the Pioners will open their Semi-Final Playoff game at home vs. the Conferencia Centro/Sur #2 team, the Granada Lions (3-2).

The other Serie B Semi-Final Playoff game will see the Conferencia Este's #2 team, the Barberá Rookies (3-2) traveling to Madrid to play the Conferencia Centro/Sur's Champion Alcobendas Caviliers (6-0).

Should be fun!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Author Andrea Camilleri and
Sicily's Inspector Montalbano
NEVER disappoint!