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Opening Day - Milton Bradley Memories




The Dodgers in 2005 looked like a team who could contend. This would be the last home opener I would attend and it would etch a permanent memory with the thrills of a come from behind victory.

With the latest Dodger stomping of the Giants and the lousy fan behavior being reported by various fans who were at the game it reminded me why I don't go to Dodger/Giant games anymore.

It all started with me selling two of my four opening day tickets to defray my season ticket package. Every game in my section of the outer loge seems to have  a few fools who just make it harder to enjoy the game then one should have to. My seats are in the outer loge right next to the Dodger bullpen, 3rd row. At that time we had a good group of season ticket holders around us which made going to the games even better. However outside of our season ticket group were the basic annoying drunks who inhabit the stadium.

Many are harmless and their drinking is no big deal as they are able to combine going to the game and drinking into a good time for themselves and those around them. Then you have the noisy self - important drunks who feel the whole stadium is there to listen them shout insults at the visitors and all the fans of the visitors. Some are just annoying loud while others take it a step further and basically assault these visitors not only with taunts but with projectiles. If you are a target of these profanities or projectiles and you object, the odds then rise that confrontation will follow. If your meek and stay calm, they usually stop since they are looking for reaction.

On this day however I saw even more unusual behavior. A well dressed young man and his date came about an inning late to the game and sat in the front row. By this point we were already down 5 - 0 as the Giants just knocked the crap out of Jeff Weaver. They had to move some fans who had planted themselves in their seats but that happens all the time and I have been that person on more then one occasion. The supplanted men already in a bad drunken mood took the seats directly behind them and started verbally harassing the couple for the next few innings.   My contempt was growing for them as the harassment got ugly enough that the lady turned around and laid into them but it didn't stop them. The man had a choice of challenging them and getting his ass kicked or ignoring them and feeling bad about having to take such insults when all he wanted to do was watch a Dodger game. 

I myself felt bad that I didn't have the physical capacity to just move a few seats and bang the mother fuckers head together. The fantasy certainly worked it's way into my mind. Just as I was about to offer the couple my seats, the usher finally showed up and after some discussion moved the couple instead of confronting the drunks. From that point on they spent the rest of the game drinking and abusing Giant fans as the Giants were kicking our butt.

The Dodgers started the game down 5 - 0 but quickly came back when Jason Repko hit a two run home run off of Rueter. Back then we were hoping that Repko was going to be known as a lefty killer rather then a Furcal killer. In the 2nd we got another run back when Jason Philips hit a single to score Nakamura. You hear these names and you wonder how we were 4 - 2 headed into this game. With the lead cut to 5 - 3, Weaver then proceeded to give up a three run jack giving the Giants a 8 - 3  lead and depressing the large crowd.  Even though we scored two runs in the sixth to cut the lead to 8-5 things looked bleak as we headed into the bottom of the 9th.

All the fans in my row left so I moved to the aisle to get ready for a quick getaway up the steps when the final out was made.   Our chance of winning this game was -2%. The drunken fans were sullen and quiet by this point and just an aisle away from me. None of us was expecting a comeback but we were there so we were going to stay until the end.  Two outs later our WPA was now -6% even though we had two two runners on base with JD Drew up. JD Drew then drew one of his infamous walks to load the bases. Our WPA was now upto 4% and the crowd was back into the game, everyone was up, cheering, imploring them to make it interesting. Jason Ellison, a rookie with less then 25 games in the major leagues had replaced Pedro Feliz in left field for defensive purposes to start the inning, a move we would cheer wildly in the not to distant future.  Jeff Kent was up and with one swing he could give the Dodgers a dynamic comeback. Instead he also walked and brought in a run to make it 8-6 with the bases still loaded. The crowd was going crazy now, a single would tie the game and Milton Bradley was up. This was the Milton before the Kent debacle. This was the Milton who would only have good things to say about how Kent has shown him how to be patient and look for his pitch. This was the Milton who was my favorite player on the team at the time. This was long ago, but on this day Milton did not disappoint and he lashed a single into left field which we knew would tie the game but Jason Ellison had other ideas and let the ball go right between his legs and Kent scored all the way from first to give the Dodgers a wild come from behind victory on opening day

I was running up and down aisle high fiving everyone in sight, as I came back down the aisle the drunken fans were at the bottom jumping up and down like everyone else. I high fived them hard, and for a moment didn't care they were pricks and that in my mind for most of the game I had plotted their murder.

Later I would feel dirty for high fiving them and I still do.  I would rather have punched them in the face but I'm civilized or I'm old or I'm a coward. Not sure which yet.