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Click to quadruplize, of course

I don’t fancy myself a sports reporter, and I certainly try not to kick a person when they’re down, but in regards to the game Susan and I walked to and from last night things were going relatively well for Dodger pitcher Mark Hendrickson and his team through the fifth inning (picture above) even though by the end of it they were down 2-1 to the Atlanta Braves. That was when manager Grady Little decided to yank his starter and bring to the mound some middle reliever named Brett Tomko to start the sixth. A third of that inning later Tomko got the hook having pitched as if he was getting a little $umthin’ $umthin’ under-the-table from the Braves: the first three batters he faced got hits. And before Tomko’s mess could be cleaned up the Braves ended up adding a couple more runs, ultimately winning by a score of 5-2. The Dodgers did manage to bring some life back to the party by putting two men on and the tying run at the plate in the form of pinch hitter Olmedo Saenz with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Saenz struck out. Game over. Feh. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Pretty much everything else that afternoon went according to plan — with the exception of the bars that we found closed during our walk. My friend Stephen had called with advanced warning that Barragan’s was taking the day off, so we were prepared for no margaritas. But arriving outside the Silver Lake Lounge we had no clue that place was shuttered as well. What the hell’s up with that!? You’d think this was a holiday or something!

Fortunately our timing was such that the No. 4 bus was approaching while we were shaking our heads in front of the Silver Lake Lounge so we decided to decrease our output by boarding it to Echo Park where we were relieved to find the Gold Room open for business like true patriots and stepped inside its dark confines where a couple regulars kindly slid down a stool so Susan and I could sit and enjoy our $3 Newcastle drafts and soak up a bit of the local flavor of the cool cave as Mexico and Venezuala battled for soccer supremacy on the flatscreen TV off my left shoulder.

Adjourning the Gold Room we headed east on Sunset passing Barragan’s with disdain then crossed Douglas before making our way to Sunset’s north side where we escaped the heat by entering the Shortstop bar nondescript except fora sidewalk placard out front touting its Dodger home game-special $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts. Inside with pints in tow we learned of free barbeque for the taking outside the back door.

With a tasty beer in one hand and an equally tasty burger fresh off the grill in the other, for a fleeting moment — actually several of them — I thought about not leaving My New Favorite Bar’s uncrowded corner in the pool table room. But like the 56,000 others in attendance and the (632 who didn’t drive) we had a game to get to and so undaunted and duly fortified we proceeded up the hilliest section of the trek, past all the cars piled up at the gate with occupants waiting to pay their $15 until we were at last standing sheened in sweat in the shade above Section 10 of the Top Deck, just in time for “God Bless America” and the National Anthem followed by a flyover from a massive and loud C-17 transport:

Afterward, we stayed put in our seats for the fireworks that were a far cry better than our last July 4 at Dodger Stadium. That pyrotechnical display in 2005 was shut down early on and unceremoniously after two small fires erupted in foliage near the launching site. Thankfully no nearby brush was harmed in the making of this year’s extravaganza and the finale was delightful — and the walk home was a special treat if you like strolling through smoke-filled streets of a simulated warzone of firecrackers, bottle rockets, the occasional M80 and regular series of sky-high starbursts and booms that rivaled the scope and sound of some we’d seen at the stadium.

It was almost enough to make me want to grab Susan and dive into the Shortstop for cover (and more beer) as we passed it on the walk back home, but not quite.

A Flickr photoset of pix from the walk, the bus, the bars, the booze, and the game can be viewed here.