#SaveEli - A series of adventures in 2021.
In late March 2021, I was vaccinated for COVID. After the vaccine reached its full effectiveness, a friend from law school and I went to a Dodgers game in Oakland. We had a blast until Cody Bellinger broke his leg. (To be fair, he got stepped on.) Anyway, to celebrate actually being able to leave the apartment for the first time in a year, I decided to go big for my first holiday since mid-2019 and I booked and planned to go to Dodger games in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Anaheim. I am not ashamed to admit that I was quite blue (pun not intended, but not unwelcome) at the time, but I didn’t even realize it until I was on the road.
I had always wanted to do a baseball trip where I followed the Dodgers around. I never thought that I would make the trip solo; truthfully, in the year that wasn’t, I was supposed to go Los Angeles and Anaheim for a week for a series of Dodger and Twins games. The sacrifices we make for love.
In any event, I was thrilled to see eight games in four cities over the span of two weeks. After getting what turned out to be the Ford Pinto of COVID-19 vaccines (which is still better than nothing), the Johnson and Johnson variety, into my right arm, I was raring to go. In fact, I tried to get the attention of Spectrum, Joe Davis, and the Dodgers themselves, because I was being an advocate for vaccination and — unlike the announcing team — I was actually going on the road. It did not work...it did not work. Apparently, I needed to be an actual dog. (More on that in a bit.)
And so I went on my adventure.
What happened next was comedy gold: Eight. Straight. Losses. It turns out my trip coincided with the Dodgers' worst slump of 2021 (by far), right in the heart of the 5-15 stretch.
- Clayton Kershaw’s worst start of his career? Check.
- The bullpen being comedically ineffective? Check.
- The offense going to sleep with runners in scoring position? Check. (That surely won’t be a theme in 2021, right?)
When I was around the Dodgers in 2021, in the beginning, there were win prediction charts that looked similar to patient EKGs in the midst of a massive cardiac arrest, who didn’t make it. For example:
(In case you’re wondering, no, it’s really not supposed to spike like that. If you have no stake in the outcome, this game would be sloppy AND entertaining. If you’re actually there...you’re kind of just stuck in hell.)
I turned that trip into a bit while posting in game threads. The name of the bit was #SaveEli, referencing Ferris Bueller because the worst of the losing happened in Chicago, at Wrigley...until it happened in Anaheim. 30 regular-season games in 13 different cities later, with one additional playoff game, I ended up with an alternate view of the history of the Dodgers’ 2021 season. The Dodgers still lost but an organic travelogue was born from my eyes on the ground.
Yes, the original eight road losses, which eventually got to 10 straight (thank you, Atlanta), spurred more travel because ultimately being blamed single-handed (jokingly, of course) for the 0-8 / 5-15 stretch stuck in my craw. And, more importantly, the circumstances in my life improved to where I had the opportunity to go, so I figured I might as well. Plus, everyone needs a hobby.
But it’s worth remembering the following fact: after the Dodgers started 3-10 when I was around, (the three wins were in the Bay Area against the A’s and Giants - baseball!) the ultimate final record was 15-15 in the regular season. Meaning that the Dodgers went 12-5 the rest of the way when I was around. Baseball!
The Games of #SaveEli
|Date||Which Trip||Matchup||Outcome||Overall Record|
|Date||Which Trip||Matchup||Outcome||Overall Record|
|04/05/21||None||Dodgers at A's||W||1-0|
|04/26/21||#SaveEli||Reds vs. Dodgers||L||1-1|
|04/27/21||#SaveEli||Reds vs. Dodgers||L||1-2|
|04/29/21||#SaveEli||Dodgers at Brewers||L||1-3|
|05/01/21||#SaveEli||Dodgers at Brewers||L||1-4|
|05/04/21||#SaveEli||Dodgers at Cubs||L||1-5|
|05/04/21||#SaveEli||Dodgers at Cubs||L||1-6|
|05/05/21||#SaveEli||Dodgers at Cubs||L||1-7|
|05/07/21||#SaveEli||Dodgers at Angels||L||1-8|
|05/21/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Giants||W||2-8|
|05/22/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Giants||W||3-8|
|06/05/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Braves||L||3-9|
|06/06/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Braves||L||3-10|
|06/08/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Pirates||W||4-10|
|06/09/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Pirates||W||5-10|
|06/10/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Pirates||W||6-10|
|06/19/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Diamondbacks||W||7-10|
|07/05/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Marlins||L||7-11|
|07/17/21||#SaveEli:ESB||Dodgers at Rockies||W||8-11|
|07/28/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Giants||W||9-11|
|07/29/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Giants||L||9-12|
|09/04/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Giants||W||10-12|
|09/07/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Cardinals||W||11-12|
|09/08/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Cardinals||L||11-13|
|09/09/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Cardinals||L||11-14|
|09/11/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Padres vs. Dodgers||W||12-14|
|09/13/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers||W||13-14|
|09/15/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers||W||14-14|
|09/17/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Reds||L||14-15|
|09/18/21||#SaveEli:RttJE||Dodgers at Reds||W||15-15|
The Dodgers also won Game 2 of the NLDS in San Francisco in convincing fashion. You’re welcome. (I’m mostly joking.) The only reason I didn’t go to Game 5 in San Francisco was that I likely had COVID, or at best, the onset of a cold. (Basically, the vaccine and booster worked because while I was shivering in bed, serious illness/and or death did not occur). I was busy with work during Game 1, so I found other stuff to do.
Oh, and I wasn’t going back to Atlanta under any circumstances. I had hotels ready in both Houston and Boston and World Series tickets purchased in Los Angeles. I was ready to go..for 24 hours. Then the Dodgers were eliminated and I got all my money back within two weeks.
Now, if you’re a regular to TrueBlueLA, you likely know, most, if not all, of this information.
But if this visit is your first time stopping by, well, hello! And those aforementioned reflections will be going live in separate posts found elsewhere.
Yes, I eventually came around to the comedy of the original trip after the fact, but at the time, I’m not going to lie, it really did feel like a monkey’s paw wish. Anyway, if I had to imagine that “monkey’s paw” conversation in my head, it would likely go something like this:
You are now vaccinated and can do as much Dodgers baseball in person as your heart desires.
But they are going to lose every game.
But you’re going to turn that annoyance into a bit that lasts an entire season!
But the bit will also be cursed.
I disagree, but that’s bad.
That bit will also lead to a job.
The job will pay a pittance.
Can I go now?
You find me a situation that a classic Simpsons quote doesn’t improve…and wow, you must be fun at parties.
I wrote a series of postmortems documenting this alternative view in the annual season review series. I said goodbye to the 2021 season with my efforts to get the Dodgers to notice my adventures in 2021 ended in futility. Then the Dodgers invited a literal dog to Dodger Stadium. Everyone seemingly went “aww.” I kept my thoughts to myself, so I needed a break and took one.
Then Eric made me an offer. Just when I thought I was out...he pulled me back in.
Once more into the breach, with the GIF that defined my 2021.
#SaveEli is dead. To quote Eric “the losing is over and [it] can no longer hurt you.”
The New Meme
Long live the new meme: #JuniorCircuit!
#JuniorCircuit: Chapter ‘22: The Ken Brett Arc
As you can see, I’ve generated a new title sequence that I’ll use and update for the next five years updating the roster of the current staff as we go. As of my most recent birthday, January 22, 2022, I have been to half (15) of the current 30 major league ballparks. I managed to go to 13 of those stadiums last season, in a once-in-a-lifetime binge – unless someone wants to become my patron! Then I’ll go wherever you want! I’m not banking on that, and frankly, I think I’ll be happier leaving my hobby as an actual hobby.
Status Report: Current Status and Future Goals
As it stands now, I have the majority of the American League to visit. I had designated hitter quips ready, but apparently, that’s the way of the future. C’est la vie. I still have Philadelphia and San Diego to visit in the National League. As to where I’m going and on what dates, that’ll be referenced in another post.
This essay serves as an overall introduction to the travelogue (“Guide”) and my travels thus far.
I’ve currently explored the NL Central extensively and most of the NL West apart from San Diego. Although I’ve only done single games in Arizona and Colorado and I should probably address that at some point. I’ve gone to quite a few games in the NL East (Atlanta most recently, Washington and New York in 2015, Miami for a single game in 2021). Truthfully, I don’t feel you can get a full feel for a place in a single game unless that place is generally terrible. (I write as think directly about the Oakland Coliseum and the Big A.)
I now invite you to share in the inner working and living memoir of my adventures in Major League Baseball. Or as I told Eric when he offered me the gig; I realized that I had started to develop a guide, which is now a Guide, for Dodgers fans in these various cities that was just rattling around in my head, which I can either get paid for or inflict on my friends and family via Facebook.
With the current schedule rotation, I’d expect to do half the AL Central this coming year, half the AL East in two years, half the AL West in the three years, the rest of the AL Central in four years, the rest of the AL East in five years, and the rest of the AL West in six years. If it takes longer, it takes longer. And if the Athletics move to Las Vegas, that will get added to the list.
In the first three years, I’d like to revisit every NL East city, except Atlanta (to quote my favorite political commentator - I’ve seen enough), and spend an additional game (or two) in Phoenix and Denver at some point during this period. I live on the West Coast so intra-division stuff is relatively easy.
I won’t lie; when Eric reached out asking if I wanted to formally write for the site, I teared up. I was and am deeply moved to be asked to formally share my thoughts and adventures with you all (and I guess, by extension, the rest of the damn internet.) Truthfully, I saw Eric’s initial email reaching out and I thought “Whelp this is it – I am finally getting the boot…had to write a series of mini-essays to say goodbye to 2021 and then about the looming baseball debt financial crisis, couldn’t just let it go, could you, you dumb---oh, Eric’s offering me a gig…at a pittance…to be divided into 1/12th of a pittance monthly. Sign me up!”
If you told me that one year ago on my birthday facing personal hardship and an unfulfilling job that in the span of a year, I would gain a measure of inner peace that had always eluded me, a much more rewarding job (both intellectually and financially) and that I would be physically present at almost 20% of the Los Angeles Dodgers 2021 season, I’d look at you quizzically, but I’d probably believe you.
My life tends to have a Forrest Gump-like quality in that I lean into and embrace my shenanigans. My bio is proof of that, and that’s the truncated version. Didn’t even share how I crashed a judge’s swearing-in for free food. I am surprised how no one seemed to latch on to the fact that I’ve eaten way too much kangaroo or that I literally lived in a bar in Cambodia. Oh well, my tenure is young.
As to my own shenanigans, it’s not to point where Brian Cox has threatened to pistol-whip me, (clip to the bit, but mild potty mouth, fair warning) but I would pay actual money for him to tell me to f—off even though I hate-watch Succession. If it’s not clear yet, I suppose that this Guide will be one part Huell Howser, one part Andy Rooney, one part Ford Prefect, and one part George Motz. If you don’t know who most, of all, of these people are, just roll with it - all be made clear, or at the very least, funny.
This new and intermittent feature, developing the Guide at True Blue LA is the culmination of my travels last year and my ongoing travels of the future. The other main feature that I’ll be bringing to the table is the shadow player reviews, aka the Post-Mortems. The Guide will present photographs and videos that will serve as a guide, but not a hitchhiker’s guide, because there are no large friendly letters instructing you not to panic (or do - you do you) and more importantly, I do not wish to be sued by the Estate of Douglas Adams or anyone else that is legally involved.
Ground Rules and Perspective to the Guide
Each city that I visit or have visited will have its own entry in this evolving Guide. So far, I have visited 15 different cities, so, as of now, I will generate 15 different entries. As the New York and Washington DC entries are probably a bit stale at this point, I will do them last, because odds are I may have a chance to update the DC entry by the time it’s time to share it.
There are certain sites that I have used in the past to plan, mostly Itinerant Fan (which I would still recommend for general information as I use it when doing the initial planning for an outing). The Guide is from the perspective of an out-of-town Dodgers fan coming to town to visit for a game. I’ll provide insight as to where you should stay, whether you need a rental car, whether you should bring friends, and where you should sit (depending on your budget and what type of ballpark fan you are.) The Guide is not meant to supplant local knowledge or pretend that I know more than you do. I do not. I am now paid to share my experiences and adventures with you all, which I am nervous about, but I am quite excited.
The first formal entry in this series will be: On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric in San Francisco or “(Weak) Garlic Fries in the Lion’s Den.”
Who am I? Who (or what) is Adric?
But to conclude this introduction, here’s a primer on the dramatis personae of this ongoing series.
Who I am:
My given name is Michael, but folks have taken to calling me “Eli,” which worked when I was a commenter. As this essay serves as the introduction to Guide, if you need an introduction to its author, I refer to the blurb I wrote for Eric when he notified everyone I was getting this gig. It was all I could do to not spam every article from the offer and acceptance with all CAPS, posting that I’m technically a national baseball writer over and over. It would have likely turned into happy gibberish, but still...gibberish. The only thing to add to what’s been written is that I enjoy the adventure of travel and anyone wishing to duplicate or join me on my adventures is free to do so provided they tell me prior to going.
Who is Adric:
For those of you who are new or need a refresher, Adric the Adipose is a stuffed animal made by my little sister as a good luck charm when I went to work in Cambodia in 2016 as referenced in my Welcome to the Staff blurb. My younger brother remarked that I took too many selfies when I lived and worked in DC that prior summer. My sister and I are both fans of Doctor Who so I thought it was a neat gift. I’ve literally taken Adric all around the world from Southeast Asia to the United Kingdom and to every Dodger game in 2021, except the first game in Oakland. Fun fact — at the NLDS, various San Francisco fans assumed he was a voodoo doll and reacted poorly. Then I laughed and explained. Good times.
Adric gets posed at games or wherever I go, usually with incredibly dry humor, or when the mood hits because sometimes baseball has lulls.
The original joke with Adric, especially once I ended up in the United Kingdom during the summer of 2016, was to get Adric “home” to the now-defunct Doctor Who Museum in Cardiff, Wales.
Did I succeed? You better believe it.
That’s about it. Please join us on our adventures through MLB as I take on the role of a Contributor / Traveling Correspondent for True Blue LA for this season, and health and good fortune willing, the seasons to come.