Tag Archives: dodgers

November, you were the worst sports month of my life

Prologue: A story in two photos.

January 3, 2002

One of these guys grew up to be a brain surgeon. The other thought dying his hair red was brilliant idea.

For 15 years, this photo of my brother and myself represented the happiest moment of my life as a sports fan.

Thanks to a ridiculous string of miracles and some computer magic, a Husker season that had been torpedoed by the Colorado Buffalos was salvaged from the depths of despair as the Big Red was chosen to head west and face off against the Miami Hurricanes for the BCS National Championship.

After a couple days showing my brother and his buddies who road tripped out from Lincoln all the best that my still newish city of Los Angeles had to offer (we feasted like kings at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and got to see a dancer at Jumbo’s Clown Room beat the ever loving crap out of a disrespectful patron who dared to tip her by snapping a quarter at her head) it was time for the main event.

And there we were. In the second row, straddling the 50 on the Huskers’ side of the field. My  brother scored our tickets through his roommate who was a student trainer on the team. While we had hopes, we really didn’t believe our randomly assigned face value tickets were going to be the best seats in the house until we found ourselves sitting eye ball to eye ball with the prominently displayed Sears Trophy that would soon belong to the Huskers.

And then they had to play the damn game.

November 1, 2017

12 years after I tried talking her into stealing a tub of spicy mustard at our first game together we were at game 7 of the World Series. 

Cut to 15 years later. Somehow I’ve managed to become a semi-respectable adult who married a diehard Dodger fan. Since we first started dating in 2005, we’ve been to nearly 200 games together. The previous four seasons were spent in our seats in Section 2 watching Dodger playoff runs come to disappointing finishes.

But this season was different.

The Boys in Blue slugged it out to the end of the line and Dodger fans were treated to November baseball for the first time ever in the form of game 7 of the World Series.

The night before, we spent our Halloween at the ballpark watching the Dodgers deliver a game that was all trick and no treat to level the World Series at three games a piece. Contrary to the reputation of the average Dodger fan, Section 2 remained full an hour after the final pitch. There were hugs, high fives, and group photos. When you spend so many seasons sitting next to the same people, they become your summer family.

That energy carried over the next day to game 7. Imagine if the Huskers ever get the chance to play for a Natty in Lincoln and you have an idea what the scene was like in Dodger Stadium. Every playoff game up until this moment was just a warmup for what was going to be the grand finale to a dream season. The stadium and city were ready to celebrate.

And then they had to play the damn game.

November 4 – Northwestern

I snap out of my Dodger induced depression long enough to entertain some friends and a neighbor who’s a Northwestern alum, which causes my wife to break out the fancy snacks and put me on my best behavior. Up until that crushing game 7 loss, I’ve never experienced a Dodger defeat that felt anywhere close the pain of a Husker loss (back when losing was a rarity, of course). The fact that game 7 mirrored the Huskers’ loss in the Rose Bowl only added to the misery. Being down 5-0 in the second inning brought back a lot of memories of seeing the Huskers down 34-0 at halftime. Being there to see your favorite teams play for a championship is truly a special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but seeing them get shellacked will leave some very deep and painful memories.

In this game, Northwestern added to the pain by gashing the Blackshirts with a few option runs straight out of TO’s playbook. Still, the Huskers were in control until they weren’t. The shit really hit the fan in overtime as Wildcats started with the ball and proceeded to run it down Nebraska’s throat. 7 rushes. 25 yards. One game winning touchdown. And one stunned neighbor after I had to step outside and scream for a moment.

November 11 – Minnesota

Breakfast of Champions for the worst Husker game of my life.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this one. This was the worst Husker game that has ever been played in my lifetime. Sure, you can argue that Texas Tech or Kansas were worse but having a bad (by Minnesota’s own low standards) Gopher team hang half a hundred on the Huskers takes the cake. Or in this case it had me taking down enough donuts to fill a freshly dug grave that will be the final resting place of this dreadful season. Out of all 19 losses in Mike Riley’s three years at the helm, this one hurt the worst because the team flat out quit against a mediocre opponent. By the final whistle, I was laying on the floor in a semi-conscious sugar coma wondering what Husker Nation did to deserve this misery.

November 18 – Penn State 

This place used to be full of happy Husker fans.

To try and break out of the funk and get things back to the good ol’ days, some friends and I make a plan to meet up at the bar that has been Hollywood’s Husker headquarters since 2010. Including ourselves, the number of Husker fans in attendance peaked at 7 and our table was the only one that stuck around until the bitter end. That glimmer of hope in the first quarter was a welcome sight but this game was so ugly that even Ohio State’s meanest fan offered her sincere condolences.

November 24 – Iowa 

Seven fans the week before is no reason to open a bar early on Black Friday so the three of us who are suddenly without a place to take our lumps in public head over to Barney’s Beanery where we are outnumbered by a table of real-life Central Florida fans who, by the basis of arriving before us, got to control the sound on the TVs so we got to enjoy watching the Huskers get taken to the woodshed in silence.

But that’s OK because by the time you read this, we’ll have taken their coach.

Bring on a frosty December.

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Welcome to the Groundhog Day of Miserable Saturdays

This time last Saturday morning I was doing the exact same thing that I’m doing right now- sitting on the couch in our TV room, drinking coffee, watching a college football game I don’t care about, and writing a half assed blog about the misery I will be enduring in a few hours.

The Scheduling Gods hate me.  

The only indicator that this is indeed a new Saturday is the palm sweat that breaks out whenever I think about what’s in store for the evening. The stakes for my two favorite teams have been ratcheted up a little higher. The Dodgers are one step closer to the World Series and the Huskers have the potential to pull off an upset against Ohio State, or have their season get even worse.

At least there was a little breathing room between the Huskers and the Dodgers last Saturday night. Thanks to the magic of living in the future I was able to stream most of the first half of the Wisconsin game. For the first four plays the offense was rolling on a gravy train with biscuit wheels and all was right with the world.

Then Tanner Lee had to throw another opening drive pick six that was virtually identical to his first one against Northern Illinois.

Then I screamed “motherf*cker” in a half empty Dodger Stadium.

My reflexive yell scared the bejeesus out of the fella we’ve sat next to for the past four seasons. As a Dodger fan, I’ve been through thick and thin with Don but it always surprises him when Crazy Husker Fan Todd makes an appearance at the ballpark. Adding to my personal hell was the fact that his wife is as big an Iowa fan as he is a Dodger fan so she was having a mighty good time at the Huskers’ expense.

If you’re keeping score at home, the stress eating stopped when the baseball game started. The playoffs make me way too nervous to eat anything other than my rally towel. 

After Stanley Morgan Jr. took a terrific 80 yard reception to the end zone, it was time for Dodger baseball so I tucked my iPad under my seat and felt good about Huskers only being down 10-7 at halftime.

Somehow that halftime score became 17-10 but I was feeling really good when Aaron Williams tied it up with a pick six of his own. The Dodgers were on the board and the Huskers were setting the table for an upset.

Then the Badgers remembered their playbook was full of unstoppable running plays and spent the remainder of the game shoving the ball down the Blackshirts’ throat. Meanwhile, the Dodgers methodically hung up six runs over two innings with a lone double as the biggest hit. If there was a baseball equivalent of three yards and a cloud of dust, the Dodgers were doing it.

I learned last Saturday night that there’s no weirder purgatory of a feeling than screaming your head off for one team while feeling completely miserable about the other.

Will tonight be any different?

Who knows?

It will either be really good, really craptastic, or somewhere in the middle. Whatever I gain by not having to deal with the trash Ohio State fans who overtake our shared watch site, I lose by having to deal with obnoxious Cubs fans who always swarm Dodger Stadium.

At least the Dodgers added a new churro sundae served in a helmet to the menu for this weekend. If I shovel one of these down between kickoff and first pitch I’ll be ready for anything tonight.

I really hope those are pieces of a full size churro.

Go Huskers. Let’s go Dodgers.

One of these years they’ll both win on the same night.



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An Annual Reminder That Nothing Hurts Like A Husker Loss

I spent last night at Dodger Stadium with 54,000 of my closest friends trying to will the Boys in Blue to a series clinching win over the New York Mets.

It was the second time I’ve been in the crowd to see Dodgers bounced from the playoffs. And if you’re keeping score at home, this is the third consecutive year they’ve made an early exit.

No matter how inevitable, seeing your team eliminated is never an easy transition. There just isn’t the neatly scheduled conclusion of a college football season. So much can hang in the balance of a single game.

Had the Dodgers won, my brother, whose lifelong Cubs fandom was galvanized after seven years of living in Chicago, celebrated their series victory by inviting himself out for games 6 and 7 if the NLCS went that far. As someone who made a clean break from being a Cub/Dodger fan a few years ago, that would have been a fun weekend of bringing our sibling rivalry to new heights.

And then there were the assorted Kansas City fans already lobbying for me to take them to a World Series game if the stars aligned for both teams. Those were going to be awkward conversations I was not looking forward to having. Two tickets can only cover so many butts.

With first pitch at 5pm, absurdly early for a weekday in LA, there wasn’t any time for the pomp and circumstance of the series’ first two games. I met a buddy at our seats with minutes spare. Somehow the stadium was filled and rocking when Zack Greinke took the mound.

The Mets dealt the first blow with a run in the first. The Dodgers immediately countered two of their own and threatened to pile it on in the following innings but they just couldn’t knock anyone home. It was the baseball equivalent of stalling out in the red zone, a problem that has plagued the Huskers all year long.

Then in the top of the fourth, the Dodgers had a mind blowing lapse in concentration that put any of this year’s Husker head-scratchers to shame as Daniel Murphy went from first to third on a walk when he realized none of the shifted Dodgers moved to cover the unattended hot corner. He promptly scored the tying run and would belt the game winning homer two innings later.

Dodgers 2015 World Series Ticket
A bit of gallows humor for the ticket box. Maybe as things shuffle around it will find itself next to a fading stub from the 2002 Rose Bowl.

As the game wore on and the Dodgers’ chances dwindled, supportive texts started rolling in as if it were the final minutes of a Husker game. Once the Mets recorded the final out, those texts became condolences.

I replied back to concerned friends and family with the same message.

Thanks. It sucks but it isn’t as bad as a Husker loss.

And that’s the truth. A person can be a fan of many teams but there can only room for one at the top of your pedestal of fandom. Seeing your teams lose hurts but one always hurts more than the others and that is the team that has become part of your DNA.

Leaving the stadium last night, I saw scores of fans whose genetic code is written in Dodger Blue. There were grown men who looked like they’ve killed for sport at some point in their lives trying their hardest to hide their tears from their children.

There was a pit at the bottom of my stomach but it wasn’t the kind of despair that needed to be filled by a danger dog on the way home. Life will go on.

The Dodgers’ 73rd loss of the season was by far their most painful but it still doesn’t compare to what it feels like to see the Big Red come up short in four out of six games.

It’s time to right the ship, the season, and to stop losing to Minnesota.

Let’s get that win, Huskers.

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Why Husker Fans Need the Dodgers to Win the World Series

With the Major League Baseball postseason starting today, it’s time to blow the lid off the missing link to the Huskers getting back in the National Championship hunt and maybe even winning a trophy or three.

The Los Angeles Dodgers need to win the World Series.

Feel free to pshaw and call this idea cockamamie all you want, but if you do the research, you’ll see I’m not yanking your chain. Every time the Huskers have played in a title game or made a National Championship run, the Dodgers preceded those appearances with a World Series victory.

No other team in baseball matches up to the Huskers’ championship aspirations the way the Dodgers do.

Before diving in, I should add a disclaimer:  the mind-blowing argument I’m about to present is grounded solely in hard data and logic. The fact that my lovely wife and I are Dodger season ticket holders (I made it out to a personal best 35 games this year) has not been factored-in in any way, shape, or form.

Here’s how it breaks down:

1965: The Dodgers win the World Series.
1970: The Huskers win their first National Championship.
1971: The Huskers tack on one more for good measure.

1981: The Dodgers beat the Yankees to capture the World Series crown, avenging losses to the Bronx Bombers in 1977 and ’78.
1982: The Huskers come up short against Clemson.
1983: Miami can suck it.

1988: The Dodgers are World Series champs once again and provide one of the most dramatic moments in the history of sport.
1994: The Huskers vanquish Miami to win a long-awaited third National Championship.
1995: The Huskers double down and Tommie Frazier makes one of the most incredible runs in college football history.
1997: Ain’t nothing wrong with going 3 for 4.

Boom. There you have it. Undeniable proof that a World Series victory by the Dodgers means the Huskers will follow up with an appearance and/or a victory in a game with the National Championship on the line within six years. (A wholly reasonable time frame for a new coach to build a dynasty.)  No matter which way you slice it, there’s no denying the cold, hard truth. For the Huskers to win it all, the Dodgers need to do the same.

Now that you’ve suddenly disavowed whatever baseball team that has tickled your fancy for however many years, here are a few nuggets to help you realize that the combo of Scarlet and Cream and Dodger Blue is a match made in sports heaven.

Odd Names in the Early Years: Old Gold Knights, Rattlesnake Boys, Bugeaters? The Dodgers used to be called the Bridegrooms, Superbas, and Robins. Plus, they’re right up there with the Bugeaters when it comes to having a nickname derived from a derogatory term.

Legendary Announcers: While I’m too young to know Lyle Bremser, a chill still runs down my spine any time I think of Kent Pavelka exclaiming “Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown!” The same holds true for Vin Scully saying “It’s time for Dodger baseball!” In case you missed the news, Vin is coming back next year for an unprecedented 67th season behind the mic for the Dodgers. If you’ve never had the pleasure, you need to hear him call a game. The only way I can begin to describe it is that it’s like the coolest guy in the room, who just happens to be a living, breathing baseball encyclopedia, has invited you to sit with him at his private table for a few hours.

Did I ever tell you about the time Jackie and I raced each other on ice skates?

Extremely Knowledgeable and Loyal Fans
This kid knew exactly what he was doing.

Say what you will about the stereotypical Dodger fan arriving late and leaving early but the truth is getting to the stadium for a weeknight game requires as much planning as the Invasion of Normandy. And the exodus you see in the 7th? That’s everyone running to get one last beer before the taps get shut off.

Just like the average East Stadium blue hair could give a master class on the intricacies of the triple option, I’d be willing to wager that the little Thai lady who sits in front of us could manage a game as well as Don MattinglyAnd that’s no disrespect to Donnie Baseball. She’s just that baseball savvy.

Husker Fans and Dodger Fans
While the Dodgers will never give the Huskers’ sellout streak any competition, they have topped Major League Baseball in attendance the past three seasons. Since 2001, the Dodgers have finished in the top 5 all but twice, coming in at #8 in ’01 and at #11 in 2011, which not coincidentally was the absolute rock bottom of the Frank McCourt era, aka the Dodgers’ Bill Callahan years.

During this same period, all you plucky Kansas City fans, managed to get the Royals out of the bottom 5 exactly twice, #22 in 2003 and all the way up to #10 this year. Gee, bandwagon much?

Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke

If you’re a Royals fan and suddenly butt hurt by the last comment, just simmer down and remind yourself how badly you wanted to see Zack win a ring.

Carl Crawford
Carl Crawford
How can you not cheer for a former Husker quarterback recruit who actually made it to the bigs in a timely manner unlike that Bubba kid.

Tom and Tom Tom Lasorda and Tom Osborne
Mr. Lasorda, Meet Mr. Osborne. While Tommy only ran the show for 20 years to Dr. Tom’s 25, Lasorda and his predecessor Walter Alston managed the Dodgers for a combined 43 years compared to Bob and Tom roaming the Memorial Stadium sidelines for 35.

T-Magic and Yasiel Puig Are Brothers From Another Mother
Taylor Martinez Yasiel Puig

Both came out of nowhere with otherworldly talent and a penchant for making some of the most brilliant and boneheaded plays their respective sports have ever seen. Puig is currently going through his T-Magic senior year, having missed most of the season with hamstring injuries (the Dodgers’ version of the good ol’ groin pull). He miraculously recovered in time for the final days of the regular season but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were left off the postseason roster.

Milton Bradley
Milton Bradley

The Dodgers’ version of Lawrence Phillips is currently serving 32 months in jail for domestic abuse. In 2004, he famously ended his stint as a Dodger when he tried going into the stands to fight everyone after he was showered with boos (and assorted debris) after botching a routine pop up with the bases loaded. I was at this game and the response from the crowd will never be forgotten, especially the cholos, vatos, and homies, who tried climbing over the outfield wall World War Z style to kick his ass.

If Alex Lewis ever tried blowing kisses to the Dodger Stadium crowd following an epically stupid loss, there’s no way he’d make it out of Chavez Ravine alive.

Dodger Fans Know the Sting of Losing to an Arch Rival: Think Oklahoma, Texas, Miami, Florida State and Wisconsin have the Huskers’ number? Try losing to the Yankees in the World Series EIGHT times. After six tries, the Dodgers finally took them down for the first time in 1955.

To the Dodgers, Reggie Jackson is Melvin Gordon, Brian Bosworth, and Jamaal Charles combined.

The run to the Husker’s next National Championship starts at 6:45pm this Friday night.

Let’s go Dodgers.

It goes so well with Go Big Red, doesn’t it?

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Dirkonomics: The Evolution of How Tickets Are Sold

Hey, man. You still driving in to Houston in the morning to get those Aerosmith tickets? – Randall Pink Floyd, Dazed and Confused.

What can really be said? Another week, another gem from Dirk Chatelain that just has to include a swipe at the Huskers. In what was an otherwise tightly crafted look into the dying breed known as the ticket scalper, Dirk takes Joey from Kansas City’s assessment that Husker ticket sales are slumping because in 2015 Joey from Kansas City is having trouble selling tickets while standing on a bridge outside Memorial Stadium.

Dirk, low demand is when a top ten team resorts to selling tickets for half price via a discount site over a month before their season opener.

USC GOLDSTAR79,809 people turned out for USC’s season opener against Arkansas State. LA Memorial Coliseum has a capacity of 93,607.

Before we dive in to today’s little history lesson, let’s take a closer look at how Joey from Kansas City spent his game day that “made” him $800 in a few short hours. To get to and from Memorial Stadium he had to incur the time and expense of driving three hours each way. Factoring that overhead, his hourly rate could still potentially be in the $75 range but then you also have to consider that he probably didn’t work much during the week. As Dirk noted, Joey from Kansas City has been scalping Husker tickets since the 80s so he probably isn’t one for holding down a regular job.

Here’s the deal: In 2015, if your best option for purchasing a ticket to an event is by conducting business with a borderline low level criminal hanging around outside of said event, you either can’t plan your way out of a paper bag or actually attending the event isn’t really all that high on your list of your day’s priorities. There are no other reasons why you should be buying a ticket from a scalper on the street.

The Evolution of How Tickets Are Sold

July 1996: The History of Rock is offered as a class at UNL for the first time over the summer. My roommate and I threw our GPAs to the wind and signed up. Much to our delight, extra credit could be earned by attending concerts so we decided to go see KISS blow the roof off Kemper Arena down in Kansas City. Our search for tickets started and ended by browsing the classified ads in the Lincoln Journal Star. Lucky for us, a pair of tickets was up for sale. Turns out a dude won tickets AND a seat on The Blaze (on 106.3 back then) party bus and no longer needed his tickets. He told us all about it as he kept us trapped in his basement apartment that was filled with snakes.

Dirk Logic: Newspaper advertising revenue has fallen off a cliff in the 21st century. Therefore, people must have stopped exchanging goods and services.
Newspaper Advertising Revenue

October 1996: KISS (to the surprise of no one who knows that money is Gene Simmons’ favorite thing in the world) adds more dates to their reunion tour including a stop in Omaha. I stand in a line for Ticketmaster for two hours that stretched from the front door of the Homer’s Music at 14th & O all the way down the block and around the corner past the Walgreen’s at 13th street. Back in 1996, there were nearly as many record stores in downtown Lincoln as there were bagel shops, keep in mind there was one block in downtown that had FOUR bagel shops.

Dirk Logic: The once mighty Homer’s franchise is down to a single location found in Omaha’s Old Market. Therefore, people must have stopped purchasing music.

April 13, 2005: The day after Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. I take the girl I’m seeing to our first Dodger game together and introduce her to the shady underworld of parking lot ticket sales. After some cunning haggling that could hang in the Burrabazar and playing the army of scalpers off each other (and missing the top of the first) I score a pair of seats behind home plate for only $40 each, which at the time was probably 90% of my net worth.

Dirk Logic: An entire army of scalpers? Dodger tickets must be the hottest ticket in town! (For the record, the 2005 Dodgers had their second worst season in their history as the LA Dodgers.)

March 30, 2013: After getting my childhood kicked in the nuts by subjecting myself to watching GI Joe: Retaliation, I realize I still have two hours worth of free parking to burn so I hike a block from the theater over to Staples Center to see if I can score a ticket to the Elite Eight game between Wichita State and Ohio State that tipped off right as the movie ended. Within a minute of trying, I exchange the $18 (a fair price to watch Ohio State lose in any sport) that was in my pocket for a nosebleed seat with a face value of $90. Immediately after the close of my sale, a frantic Ohio State fan ran up and said she’d pay $50 for anything that would get her in the door. I felt so bad at her lack of haggling skills, that I used some of the money I “saved” to buy her a beer since her seat ended up being next to mine.

Dirk Logic: March Madness has clearly lost its luster and should be canceled.

August 2014: Sir Paul McCartney is playing his first concert at Dodger Stadium since the Beatles played their second-to-last concert there back in 1964. Somehow or another, I got an email for an “exclusive pre-sale.” I bought a pair of tickets plus an extra pair to flip on Stub Hub. Within 24 hours they were gone and I had finagled going to see Sir Paul for free.

Dirk Logic: If it ain’t The Boss who cares?

December 13, 2014: Our tickets to the Dodgers’ Opening Day game against the San Diego Padres on 4/6/15 sell for $299.99, netting $269.99 after StubHub’s cut. With our season tickets running $16 each (face value $43) that means we notched a 743.72% mark up and some lucky duck got Opening Day tickets for Christmas.

Dirk Logic: Dodger Opening Day tickets are more valuable than shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Apple COMBINED.

June 2015: The girl from 2005 who has now been my wife for five years and I are walking into Dodger Stadium when one of the few remaining scalpers asks us if we need tickets. After telling him we’re good, he replies “Man, whatever happened to couples needing tickets? You people just plan to much these days.

Dirk Logic: Wait a minute… if the army of ticket scalpers at Dodger Stadium has all but disbanded, how can tickets really be in-demand? This makes no sense.  (The Dodgers have led MLB in attendance since the 2013 season, averaging over 46,000 people per game.)

September 5, 2015: Last Sunday morning while getting a latte at my local coffee shop, I asked the barista, who I’ve seen at least three times a week for the last decade, if he’d like to use our Dodger tickets sometime before the season ends. In the amount of time that it took for him to concoct my beverage, we sorted out a date that worked and I texted him a pair of tickets.

Dirk Logic: What is this voodoo magic?

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Field Trip: Husker Baseball Visits Loyola Marymount

The Husker Baseball team returned to Los Angeles for the first time since 2013 to take on the Loyola Marymount Lions in a three game series this past weekend.

The last (and only) time Nebraska and LMU met on the diamond was back in 1988 with the Lions going for the jugular in both games. LMU extended their winning streak over the Huskers after Friday’s match up under the lights on an evening that was about as miserable as the weather gets in LA.

Lucky for me, I could only make it to the two games the Huskers won. Or, maybe my little Buddha belly is Husker Baseball’s lucky charm? (Feel free to get at me, when the CWS rolls around.)

With StormWatch 2015 in full effect throughout the weekend, Saturday and Sunday’s games were bumped up a few hours to avoid impending weather doom.  LMU’s scenic campus is built on a bluff overlooking the Pacific and is perfectly positioned for a Day After Tomorrow kind of situation.

We courageously accepted the risk and braved a wind chill in low 60’s with possible water falling from the sky. Bad weather can’t keep us from the Huskers.

George Page Baseball Stadium
George Page Stadium, home of the LMU Lions. George left his hometown of Fremont, Nebraska at age 16 and headed to California with $2.30 in his pocket. He went on to become a very successful businessman and one of LA’s most prominent philanthropists.

Located at the entrance, Pride Park is dedicated to beloved LMU fan Grandma Cruz.

View of Pride Park from behind Grandma Cruz’s home plate memorial. During Sunday’s game, LMU hosted a Wiffle Ball game for kids. We thought we’d be solid ringers but didn’t get picked.

Upon entering the stadium, this is the sight that greeted us.

No matter where any of the Husker teams go, fans will be there an hour early. By game time both days, the visitor’s section had swelled to a mighty Puddle of Red.

Oh, hey there, Husker Baseball. The most fascinating element of Page Stadium is the Mikos Blue Monster measuring 37 feet tall, the same height as Fenway’s Green Monster.

One neat perk for LMU season ticket holders is getting their names on their seats. Once the game started, we took it upon ourselves to check IDs to make sure no riff-raff was poaching the Gill Family’s seats.

Husker Baseball Coach Darin Erstad
Husker Baseball coach Darin Erstad exchanges line up cards with LMU Coach Jason Gill. Sorry about hassling your family for ID, bro.

Kyle Kubat delivery
Senior Kyle Kubat yielded just one run and three hits over seven innings to pick up his first win of the season on Saturday.
Photo: @JoeJanecek

Jake Schleppenbach Bunt
Lead off hitter Jake Schleppenbach was a thorn in LMU’s side all weekend but was at his thorniest laying down a sacrifice bunt attempt that ended with two Huskers scoring and him sliding into third.
Photo: @JoeJanecek

The Huskers used the bunt to their advantage both Saturday and Sunday, forcing LMU to make decisions and plays. I like that Coach Erstad seems to be aggressive when it comes to getting that first run on the board. All too often I’ve seen coaches (well, at least Joe Torre and Don Mattingly) save the small ball until it’s desperately needed. By then it’s usually too late.  The only move that didn’t pan out was a potential first run on Saturday that was snuffed out at home on a contact play.

Sequence of the contact play that went in LMU’s favor. Even with a chopper to third, it was close play at the plate.

Random observations from someone who hasn’t seen the Huskers play since 2013, yet has attended 54 Dodger games and watched at least another 200 on the TV during that stretch:

Plate discipline: The Huskers clearly have it. On Saturday Blake Headly worked an epic at-bat (I stopped counting after the 37th pitch) into a 2 run double. The Huskers weren’t shy about swinging at the first pitch but were very selective in doing so. LMU’s pitchers really worked bottom of the strike zone and the Huskers showed restraint in laying off some very close pitches. When the count got tight, they showed a knack for making defensive contact and keeping at-bats alive.

Speed: To quote the great Vin Scully:

Once on base, the Huskers weren’t shy about turning on the jets. While I don’t recall any steals, there were several instances of extra bases being grabbed off hits and very aware base running. As soon as a player slid into base, the first order of business was finding the ball. Which leads to-

Fundamentals: All weekend long the Husker defensive moved as such a cohesive unit it was like the whole team was mentally linked up and driving a Jaeger from Pacific Rim. As soon as LMU put the ball into play, back ups flew into position. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see a catcher and second baseman sprinting to back up a routine grounder from third to first. Following the Huskers’ work on bunt defense during BP on Saturday, the exact scenario played out on the field and they executed it just like they practiced. I wish there was a situation where LMU got caught in a pickle because I have a hunch the Huskers would have handled it perfectly, which would have brought tears of joy to Vin’s eyes. If there’s one thing on Earth that grates his cheese, it’s seeing a bad rundown play.

Defense: Granted, this could be the years of horror that was watching Hanley Ramirez try to play shortstop talking but Steven Reveles has such an insanely fast and smooth glove to hand transition it’s like watching a magician play baseball. From deep in the their respective corners of the outfield, Luis Alvarado and Austin Darby launched guided missile heat-seeking laser bullets to home from on Sunday. The Huskers were one loose ball away from negating both of LMU’s scoring chances.

The defensive play of the weekend belonged to LMU left fielder Billy Wilson. Immediately following Tanner Lubach‘s bomb off the top of the Blue Monster, Darby followed with a line drive shot that sent Wilson into full Superman mode, not stopping until he slid across the warning track. When the dust finally settled, Husker fans were cheering just as much as they did on Lubach’s dinger.

Overall, if the pitching can remain stout and the bats stay warm, there’s no reason why the Huskers can’t make a solid run to Omaha. The foundation is certainly there. LMU was no slouch and this weekend’s tournament in Houston will be a great test to see how the Big Red stacks up against perennial powerhouses.

Now that you made it this far, here are some highlights from the weekend. And keep on scrolling for more photos.

Huskers Batting Practice
The Huskers wore camo jerseys for batting practice on Saturday.

Husker Fans 2
The Puddle of Red cheers on the Huskers. You could figure out who the California Nebraskans were based on the amount of layers. Had the day’s weather hovered over Lincoln, shorts would have been worn and classes held outside.

LMU softball played the same time as their baseball counterparts on Saturday. You can see the Blue Monster peeking out through the trees. The LMU fans I talked to were impressed by the gravitational pull of the Big Red.

Blake Headly
Blake Headly swung a hot bat all weekend.

Jake Schleppenbach proved to be a legit threat at the top of the line up and his mom proved to be a great ambassador for Husker Baseball. She introduced herself and thanked us for coming out on Sunday. We also met family of Taylor Fish, Tanner Lubach, and Steven Reveles. They were all super nice.

First churro of the season! A ballpark staple in LA.

With Sunday’s first pitch at 11am, we brought a box of donuts to share with fellow Husker fans. Baseball and donuts were a great recovery from staying up until 3am on a House of Cards bender.

Boldly wore my prediction for Sunday. Some real gems turn up when you search ‘Vintage Huskers’ on eBay.

Go Big Red!

Sunday’s rain held off until the bottom of the ninth.

Huskers get the series win. Now on to the next one.

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Game Day Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Michigan State Spartans

It’s gameday!

Or is it?
Cornhusker Game Day
Time zones is confusing to Wanda.

Just so we’re all on the same page,  the official start time for the Cornhuskers is 8pm Eastern Time. That means 7pm back in the land of Runza.

And for this blog, it means one stressful night because the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles will be squaring off against the St. Louis Cardinals at the same time.

Johnny Stanton demonstrates how Dodger Blue and Husker Red can be a winning combo.

I’ll be at the Dodger game armed with an AM radio to get the sweet, sweet sounds of Vin Scully in one ear, a hopefully functional Huskers app to get the sounds of Greg Sharpe and Matt Davison in the other plus an iPad to watch the game.

If you’re keeping score at home, the last time a Dodger playoff game went up directly against the Cornhuskers was on this very day six years ago.

It was much simpler back in the pre-Twitter era of 2008. Putting yourself in a cone of silence wasn’t impossible, it was downright easy. With the Husker game on the DVR back at home, all I had to do was not check the college football scoreboard on my trusty T-Mobile flip phone. If I remember correctly, I may have even turned my phone off for the entire game.

It wasn’t until we were bouncing back to the car after the Dodgers had swept the Cubs under the rug that I noticed I had a voice mail from a college friend living in Chicago. Thought she was calling to talk smack about the Dodgers slaying her Cubs but nope. She called to vent about the Huskers getting curb stomped by Missouri and ruined an otherwise brilliant plan. If I remember correctly, that game was erased without watching a single play.

And with that one quick message, all the the joy was sucked out of that Dodger victory.

No matter the outcome of the Dodgers’ postseason run, its emotional roller coaster is but a mere bunny slope compared the K12 that is the Huskers’ season. That is the power of Husker fandom.

So, on to tonight’s big showdown –

Confidence: The Cornhuskers  enter the Big Ten’s marquee match up as a solid underdog but the Big Red needn’t fear Michigan State. If the Huskers can execute, there’s no reason they shouldn’t win. (That being said, I won’t be wearing red tonight so as not to be mistaken for a Cardinal fan.)

Scouting Report: Outside of their loss at Oregon, the reigning Big Ten champions have yet to play a team of note with Jacksonville State, Eastern Michigan, and Wyoming rounding out their non-conference schedule. Michigan State has a hoss receiver in the 6’3″ Tony Lippett but the Huskers’ secondary has already gone down that road with Miami’s Phillip Dorsett. If they can keep him and his size at bay, look for it to be a long night for the Michigan State passing game. Michigan State’s defense could give the Huskers fits early on but look for Tim Beck to make continue his hot streak of making good decisions and find a way for the Huskers to move the ball.

Ideal Scenario: The Cornhuskers take the mental toughness that was forged against Miami on the road and stay meltdown-free. Ameer Abdullah gains traction on a possibly wet field and leads the Husker charge in prime time. A strong showing edges him to within striking distance of Marcus Mariota in the Heisman discussion.

Tommy Armstrong breaks off a couple of key runs and takes care of the ball through the air, burning Michigan State deep at least once.

On the Blackshirt side of the ball, Randy Gregory has his coming out party. If the defensive line and secondary can keep things locked down look for Gregory to be turned loose leaving Husker fans to ask, Ndamukong Who?

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: Four. Look for ABC/ESPN to try to create sideline drama anytime they can.

A Question That Needs an Answer: Which Husker receiver will have a big catch on this trip to RoboCop’s home state?

This Brook Berringer strike to Reggie Baul back in 1995 against the Nick Saban coached Spartans made the pain of a very severe hangover instantly go away.

How huge was Jamal Turner’s game winning catch? My brother was so pumped he called me. A month earlier when his first child was born, he sent me a text.

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