I was getting a little blah about baseball the other day. Not much was happening. It had been five months since the fantasy team I co-owned with my brother-in-law, Jason, had won the championship.
The offseason had been pretty boring for the Dodgers. The World Series was still a burr in my saddle. (My World Series program from Game 7 is still sitting on the back seat of my car, for Pete’s sake).
It was last Friday afternoon and I had noticed online that Justin Turner hit a first-inning solo home run to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in their spring training opener at Camelback Ranch against the White Sox, which whet the appetite and got the baseball juices flowing again.
That’s when Vin Scully, Joe Davis and, yes, even Charlie Steiner, made life good again. I decided to start watching YouTube videos about the Dodgers. I needed a fix, and this was just the panacea I needed.
So, read on only if you have the time and desire to rejuvenate your Dodger self. This could take a while (runtimes are included so you can ration and savor them accordingly).
The first video we saw was the Dodgers “2017 NLCS home runs” (8:27). That got us fired up! When Justin Turner crushed a John Lackey pitch into the dead of night for a three-run, walk-off home run in Game 2, we knew there wouldn’t be enough videos to satiate the desires.
We watched on, waiting breathlessly for Kike Hernandez’s three-blast performance in the series-clinching Game 5, tying the Major League record for most home runs in a championship series game. (Bonus points if you can name the last player to do that before watching the video: answer below).
Then came a couple of fun videos. If you’re under 40, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of some of these Dodger and/or opposing players, but that doesn’t reduce the fun factor.
Actor/comedian Danny Kaye was a longtime Dodger fan when he wrote this song. A few years back, someone took the time to create a Lego video (5:04) to go along with it. This one’s definitely worth bookmarking.
Then there’s Terry Cashman, who wrote songs on just about every team back in the 80s. His updated 2008 Dodger version (3:17) is quite catchy.
The top moments of 2017 (6:17) really got us fired up for 2018. On June 19, rookie Cody Bellinger hit two home runs to become the first Major League player ever to have at least 21 home runs in his first 51 career games. He followed that by hitting for the cycle July 15 in Miami.
And how can anyone forget Kyle Farmer’s first Major League hit in his first Major League at-bat, a walk-off, two-run double against the Giants on July 30? Or the Dodgers clinching their fifth straight NL West title? Or Turner single-handedly defeating Arizona in Game 1 of the NLDS with a home run and five RBIs?
Then, we accidentally came across this: Dodgers and Giants fans actually trying to compliment each other (4:03). It’s a hoot (caution: there’s a curse word about the Yankees at the end).
No Dodger video barrage would be complete without Kirk Gibson (9:44; the home run is at 6:40).
Gibby would later say he knew Dennis Eckersley’s nasty, wipeout, the backdoor slider was coming. He recalled asking for time and stepping out of the box just before Eckersley delivered the fateful pitch, telling himself, “Partner, as sure as you’re standing here, he’s gonna throw you that backdoor slider.”
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Besides Gibson’s fist pump, there are two images from that home run that will stick with me forever: The poor sap in the parking lot leaving the game, and Steve Sax being thrown aside as he’s trying to congratulate Gibson as he crosses home plate.
Nearly 30 years later, I still get goosebumps every single time I see the video. Every … single … time.
The next video will always stick in my craw because I turned off the TV after the Dodgers fell behind, 9-5, to the Padres on Sept. 18, 2006.
I got a call from my friend, Pedro, just after Marlon Anderson followed Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew and Russell Martin with the fourth straight Dodgers home run (1:35) in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game.
When the Padres went up, 10-9, in the tenth, I nearly turned it off again. So glad I hung around for Nomar Garciaparra’s walk-off heroics.
On Oct. 2, 2004, the Dodgers needed one win to clinch the division. Trailing the Giants, 3-0, entering the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers rallied for three runs to tie the score, bringing Steve Finley to the plate to do this (1:47). The grand slam capped off a seven-run ninth to win the West.
There’s no baseball action in this one, but comedian Don Rickles insults Dodgers (3:07) Pedro Guerrero, Bill Russell, Bill Madlock and Steve Sax in his own way.
If watching and listening to Scully’s call of Charlie Culberson’s 2016 walk-off, division-clinching home run (2:09) doesn’t get you fired up for Opening Day, nothing will. It was extra special because it was Culberson’s first home run of the year and Scully’s final home game ever.
Yeah, I did come across some 2017 World Series videos. Just couldn’t watch, though, even the games the Dodgers won. The inevitability of it all was just too painful. So, you’ll have to YouTube those on your own.
There’s no better way to end that with some Vin Scully masterpieces. A few years back, KTLA Channel 5 ranked Scully’s Top 5 calls of all time. (Number 1 spoiler alert: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”).
Smart money says most of you didn’t know he actually called No. 3.
And, finally, there was this sign-off from Vin Scully’s last game ever (3:42). When Mr. Scully wished me a “very pleasant good afternoon” for the final time, there was no stopping the tears. I was in the stands at AT&T Park that day, and I will admit that it was the classiest I had ever seen Giants fans as they paid tribute to Scully throughout the game.
So, there you have it. Enough to keep you satisfied until March 29. Thirty days and counting.
Trivia answer: Adam Kennedy, 2002 Angels.