As #JuniorCircuit has a signature GIF, whenever I return to the past of #SaveEli, I shall draw upon the meme I’ve adopted for my own. I feel that it’s important to lean into your eccentricities. Plus, the GIF really does sum up that first trip.
On a personal note, thanks for sticking around. In one sense, I’m grateful that the lockout ended when it did because I was having to stretch what was left of the 2021 content.
A Tale of Two Halves
I remember Alexander Victor Vesia. And, that’s a cool name.
I saw Alex Vesia pitch in 10 games in person in 2021. Here’s the thing: Alex Vesia was so good once he returned to the Dodgers for good in July, it’s really easy to forget how gob-smackingly awful he was at the start of the year. And as fate would have it, as with our patron saint of “Oh right, he was in the relief core!” in Garrett Cleavinger, I had a front-row seat to Alex Vesia “helping” the bullpen by bringing cans of jet fuel to the fire for the first half of the year. I tease because I made the same joke about myself when I started with my current firm. Accordingly, I think it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself. “I’m HeLpInG! har har har!” Good times.
In his literal first appearance of the year in Milwaukee, on May 1 – Young Master Vesia officially went 1+ in, walked four, gave up four runs (two earned and two Manfred Men) with 2 K. He earned a Blown Save and the Loss as I watched from my office chair to watch the happy people of American Life Field celebrate on the night the Dodgers lost Dustin May for the year.
Then, at the literal next game I went to, three days later, Young Master Vesia returned. He pitched in Game 1 of the only Dodgers’ doubleheader in 2021 Chicago, as he went 2 innings, giving up a solo HR, but striking out two. Young Master Vesia ended up with a no-decision in this game because (as discussed ad nauseam) this game was Clayton Kershaw’s literal worst start of his career. In all fairness, this stretch was in the heart of 5-15, so no one on the Dodgers, apart from Will Smith, was covering themselves in glory.
Young Master Vesia had one last appearance in front of me in San Francisco prior to his second-half renaissance. On May 22, 2021, he went an inning, giving up 2 runs (both earned), with one BB, one K, and another home run allowed.
If Young Master Vesia were like Dennis Santana or Nate Jones that would be that and we would have to rack our brains as to writing out the list of all the relievers used in 2021 in the Dodgers’ bullpen as a trivia question, which would be similar to Shane Greene, Ichabod Johnson, or Darien Núñez.* For whatever reason, while in Triple-AAA, Young Master Vesia finally cracked it and once he returned, he was a far different reliever as to his effectiveness.
Those two runs he gave up in San Francisco in May were the LAST runs that I saw Alex Vesia give up for the rest of the year when I was around. He had seven more appearances in the regular season in 2021. Those are awesome sentences to write.
Alex Vesia in 2021 #SaveEli Games
|Games (out of 30)||10|
|Games (out of 30)||10|
|R / ER||7/5|
Invariably, whenever there was trouble, Dave Roberts would likely turn to Alex Vesia.
And time after time, Young Master Vesia would deliver. When the Dodgers would win - in fact, it’s worth noting that Vesia ended up with the win in the Albert Pujols homer game in St. Louis.
The “Angry” Super Mario
Most people remember Young Master Vesia’s demeanor in 2021 from how much passion he would show on the mound. Don’t get me wrong - I’m a fan. It takes all sorts to have a successful bullpen.
The point that I am making is that what wasn’t obvious was how cool and collected Young Master Vesia was when he wasn’t on the mound. Before delving into that bit a little further, I would be remiss in neglecting his terrific sense of humor...his ability to grow an eighty-grade mustache.
The Mario movie should have just waited on casting for one day, when it became obvious Alex Vesia is the right man for the role https://t.co/XVDWEtotPi pic.twitter.com/tNbpowdNe0— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) September 24, 2021
Per the internet, Alex Vesia is anywhere from 6’1” to 6’3”. So he’s a smidge taller than me. I actually approve of the idea of the costume, but I cannot overlook one thing. Whatever Vesia’s height actually is, it doesn’t matter, because either height is too tall to effectively cosplay Mario. Mario, by definition, is a little guy, barely over five feet tall.
What stood out most about Young Master Vesia this year was that when he wasn’t on the mound, he’s the chillest, calmest cat around. And when I was watching him in the bullpen I noticed that he was frequently asking questions or refining his grip, as demonstrated by the July 28th photo in San Francisco.
I’m 90-percent sure I saw Vesia’s family when I was in Anaheim at the conclusion of the original #SaveEli trip. I make this assertion because they would be the only folks I could think of at the time to be wearing a Vesia jersey in early May. It’s a nice segway into the following point: interacting with the families of the ballplayers or the ballplayers themselves outside in the real world. Generally, I don’t on the theory it would be weird if someone walked into my office at work and started chatting with me about Dodgers stuff without warning.
When I chatted up Champ and Papa Pederson in 2018, we were stuck in an alcove together and I’m one to fill the awkward silence with banter. (Good kid.) The most recent example was discussed at length in the Complete Mookie Betts, so there is no need to linger. So on those rare moments of interaction between a player and someone in the crowd in 2021, I tended to hang back and let the moment play out.
And on that note, here’s Vesia talking to his family after NLDS Game 2 in San Francisco.
See? He’s a cool cat. I think he nodded at me after this encounter. Or at least, I’d like to think that he recognized me. But who knows. I do wish I could grow a mustache like that.
Oh, for the love of...That game in October was the last Dodger game I ultimately went to in 2021 and I left Oracle Park on a happy note. Thankfully, we’ll likely have a few more years to watch him in action for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, on that note, with this entry, we conclude the 2021 #SaveEli Postmortem Series. I’d like to thank you very much for your time and attention, as we can finally turn the page to the Ken Brett Arc of Junior Circuit! And with the end of the lockout, I can finally focus on the Guide.
* I might have made up a reliever out of boredom - my point is still valid, though!