Well, It’s Not The Worst Thing To Be The Wild  Card

I’ve made no secret about how much I wanted to win the division and secure home field advantage. And I thought it was doable. Seriously doable. But, as I said, the situation could be worse for the Yankees; at least we’re going to Minny as opposed to heading for the golf course or hunting lodge like some teams.

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And today wasn’t a total loss. It’s always fun to score off Papelbon. The bigger issue confronting us fans right now is the state of the Bombers. Moseley did a pretty good job, I thought. Just a couple of mistakes that my dearly departed grandmother could have hit out of the park. Robertson looked exhausted, Joba did his usual high-wire act, Logan was ineffective and I don’t think Ring has a prayer of making the postseason roster. And then there was the persistent problem of stranding runners. It was painful to watch Jorge hit that dribbler with bases loaded, for example. On the positive side, Gardner has been gaining confidence at the plate, in the field, on the bases. He’s ready to do battle. Lefties. Righties. Doesn’t matter. And Tex is hot at the right time. Plus no worries whatsoever about Cano, who is, quite simply, a beast.
So today isn’t about doom and gloom. It’s about celebrating the achievement of getting back to the postseason. And how better to celebrate than to visit with our old pal Surf Dog Bill, the grand prize winner of last year’s She-Fan Video Awards.
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For newcomers to the blog (or those with short term memory loss), Bill Connell is a local icon here in the Santa Barbara area. A huge Yankee fan, he and his hot dog stand are must-stops both for the hot dogs and the conversation.


Here’s a recent article from the Santa Barbara Independent that’ll give you an idea of just how passionate Surf Dog is.

Baseball Drama

When the L.A. Dodgers Play the S.F. Giants, Wackiness Ensues

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whenever the Hot Dog Man, aka Bill Connell, visits Dodger Stadium, things seem to get stirred up. He was there late last month when the Dodgers took a 6-2 lead over the New York Yankees into the ninth inning. “All theL.A. fans went home,” said Connell, an ardent Yankee fan since his boyhood in New Jersey. “The Yankees scored four runs against [Jonathan] Broxton to tie it. In the 10th inning, Robinson Cano hit a home run to win it. The only people in the stadium were wearing Yankee caps.”

Not only were Connell's hot dogs a hit with the crowd--to the bewilderment of the gourmet chefs at the party--but Jacobs, impressed by the vendor's evident passion for baseball, gave him temporary custody of a genuine 2009 World Series championship ring, encrusted with 119 diamonds.

Click to enlarge photo

Courtesy Photo

Not only were Connell’s hot dogs a hit with the crowd–to the bewilderment of the gourmet chefs at the party–but Jacobs, impressed by the vendor’s evident passion for baseball, gave him temporary custody of a genuine 2009 World Series championship ring, encrusted with 119 diamonds.

Connell recently wore quite another Yankee adornment. He was among the caterers at a party hosted by Jeff Jacobs, a Montecito denizen with lofty connections in entertainment and sports. Guests included Chris Bosh, the newly minted center of the Miami Heat, and Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges. Not only were Connell’s hot dogs a hit with the crowd–to the bewilderment of the gourmet chefs at the party–but Jacobs, impressed by the vendor’s evident passion for baseball, gave him temporary custody of a genuine 2009 World Series championship ring, encrusted with 119 diamonds. “There I was, handing out hot dogs, with this New York Yankee ring glittering on my finger,” Connell said. “Can you believe it?”

Only a couple days later, Connell hit the trifecta–another memorable trip to Dodger Stadium. This time, he took 50 people with him on a chartered bus from his Surf Dog stand in Carpinteria. We expected to see a low-scoring duel between two of the game’s best young pitchers, Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. Instead, we were treated to an evening of wacky incidents that stoked up the L.A.-San Francisco rivalry.

Much to our surprise, the Dodgers got to Lincecum for five runs in the first three innings. Kershaw was in command until the fifth inning, when the Giants got a break, thanks to Xavier being Manny–rookie Xavier Paul, subbing for the injured Manny Ramirez (more slug than slugger these days) in left field, had a flyball drop out of his glove. Three runs later, the Giants trailed just 5-4.

In the bottom of the fifth, after brushing back Matt Kemp with a pitch, Lincecum nailed him with another. A smattering of boos was directed at the Giants hurler. When relief pitcher Denny Bautista threw a fastball under the chin of L.A.’s Russell Martin in the sixth inning, the natives grew even more restless. They rose to their feet–almost a third of them to boo, the rest to get more beer. The home plate umpire took offense to an animated scolding by Bob Schaefer, the Dodgers’ bench coach, and ejected him.

Kershaw’s first pitch leading off the seventh inning squarely hit the Giants’ Aaron Rowand. Next to “It’s not about the money,” the most laughable sentence in a ballplayer’s repertoire is when a pitcher says about a retaliatory delivery, “It just got away from me.” That was Kershaw’s unconvincing explanation for his last pitch of the game. After he was ejected, along with manager Joe Torre, reliever Hong-Chih Kuo retired the next six San Francisco batters, preserving the Dodgers’ one-run lead.

I could not understand why people were leaving the stadium in droves. I guess they got what they came for–a James Loney bobblehead–but they missed a deliciously bizarre scene in the ninth inning.

Broxton, L.A.’s massive closer, made his usual dramatic entrance to the thundering sound of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” and promptly loaded the bases. Then Don Mattingly, filling in as L.A.’s manager for the departed Torre, made an ill-fated visit to the mound, which technically became two visits when he stepped off and back on the dirt, which prompted Giants manager Bruce Bochy to remind the umpires that was a no-no. They ruled that Broxton, who had begun pitching to Andres Torres, must immediately be replaced (their interpretation was later called into question). Out of the bullpen came George Sherrill, whose first pitch was hammered by Torres to the wall in left field for a two-run double. The Giants went on to win, 7-5.

Connell and his busload, predominantly Dodger fans, stayed to the end. “We got our money’s worth,” the Hot Dog Man declared cheerfully.

Surf Dog is always “on” whenever I stop by his hot dog stand, and yesterday was no different. He took a few minutes to chat with me. Wait – let me amend that; he took a few minutes to deliver a monologue about the Yanks. Take a look.

OK, the Joba part about getting a start? I don’t think so. Otherwise, he’s been pretty accurate in his predictions. At least he was last year. I’ll be visiting him throughout the postseason (let’s hope it lasts awhile) and will pass along his pearls of wisdom. I wish I could pass along his hot dogs too. They’re really good.


  1. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Surf Dog!!!! He is wonderful. If I ever get out to the west coast, I’ll go see him. BUt Joba as a starter? HA!

    Out of 30 teams, only 8 teams made it to the playoffs, so we should be very proud of our guys.

    And how about the poor Mets and Nationals, playing 14 innings of a game that doesn’t matter. Earlier in the day, Suzyn was saying how when that happens the guys have to rearrange their flights, etc.



  2. Jane Heller

    You have to stop by and see Surf Dog, Melissa. You’d be there for hours – you have to wait while he takes care of hungry customers – but it’s so worth it, just for the enthusiasm. And yes, we should be proud of our team. I don’t know why I’m a little down about it all, maybe because it ended anticlimactically, but intellectually I’m very excited (if that makes sense).

    Definitely up for a rematch, Jenn. Both our teams have a lot of work to do to get there, but we will cross all fingers and toes.

  3. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    I know just what you mean Jane. The fact that we’re in the post season is great. But it’s sort of hard to feel enthusiasm due to the poor play of our team in the past few weeks.

    I just keep trying to remember that it wasn’t that long ago they won 8 in a row. Maybe that team will show up for the post season.

    The Daily News guy who was commenting on the radio didn’t think AJ would start a game.

    And the poor Padres. That 3-way tie would have been very fun.


  4. Jane Heller

    I think Mark Feinsand (I’m assuming he was doing the Daily News 5th?) was right, Melissa. Joe will go with a three-man rotation for the ALDS and use CC, Andy and Hughes, with CC pitching a Game 4. The next round would be a different story and AJ would have to pitch. Yeah, the Padres have to feel deflated big time.

  5. bgalaxy@verizon.net

    it wasn’t fun watching us lose to the sox–even in a meaningless game it doesn’t feel good. however, we may be better off in a 5 game series against minnesota where we don’t have to face cliff lee twice. that being said as we looked the last month of the season, i am quite worried. cc needs to come up big. we have to hit with runners in scoring position, mo has to be mo. i am excited about a 6pm game that won’t make me sleep deprived but then again, i’d rather lose sleep and win than the alternative!

  6. ooaooa

    Boy am I glad the regular eason is over. Now on to the real business at hand. I see a rough road but it is not impossible to navigate. I’ll know in a day or so if I have tickets for Twins in NY. Our ticket group draw will determine. Not feeling very well so kids may have to pinch hit again for me this year.(unless you are coming east!)
    Surf Dog is a character. I think he may be inhaling a bit to much sterno. Joba????
    Yanks get terrible start times. Its all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Yanks will never get the afternoon game in any series.

  7. colombiano2386@yahoo.com

    Well guys the regular season has been a real tough grind for the team so we should be thankful they’re in the playoffs. They said it best in their post game interviews, records are now thrown out the window so all of us should try to put their terrible September behind us. I agree with Barbara, the Twins look to be the better matchup as we get to avoid facing Cliff Lee in a short series. I’d rather Girardi avoid using Burnett for the ALDS but for the ALCS and WS, if we get there god willing, he’ll have to step up. I’m hoping he can mentally throw his season struggles out of his mind and pitch like his WS Game 2 performance last year. Now here’s hoping the Yanks have a great run in the playoffs and hopefully win #28 in memory of the Boss.

  8. Jane Heller

    I agree with all your concerns, Barbara. I think we all share them. But as for the TV schedule, I understand why the Yankees are in prime time for every game; that’s where the audience/money is. But for you east coasters it’s really a hardship, plus how can kids ever watch a game. They have school the next day. I remember so fondly listening to World Series afternoon games when I was a kid back east. We’d bring radios to school or race home to catch the games on TV. None of this 8 pm stuff. Of course here in California, the schedule is perfect. The 5 pm start is perfect.

    I loved the Beauty and the Beast TV series, Paul, and the SNL routine you’re talking about was great too. I miss the cast during that era. I hardly ever watch the show anymore.

    Sorry you’re not feeling well, John, but I hope you and/or your kids can get to see a game or two in the Bronx this weekend. The playoffs are a thrill no matter which opponent we’re facing or which round it is. Yeah, Surf Dog’s Joba line threw me. The sterno may be to blame. LOL.

    Yes, Leo, the regular season record gets thrown out the window but the problems linger. I’m not worried about AJ for now; as I said to Melissa, Joe will go with the three-man rotation for this series and he won’t be on it. So we’ll think about him when the time comes – and I hope it does! I love your idea of winning it for The Boss. Maybe we could sneak you into the clubhouse and you could deliver a rally speech to the troops about that?

    You would have really gotten hungry, Jeff, if you’d been standing near Surf Dog’s cart. He’s got six different kind of hot dogs and they all smell incredible. Just like a ballpark only way better.

  9. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Jane — thanx for letting me quote Steve Miller —
    “Some people call him the Space Cowboy…
    Some call him the Gangsta Of Love…
    Some people say ‘Surf Dog Bill’…
    ‘Cause he speaks of the Pompatus of Love…”
    All Hail The Joker! What a character!! So glad you were able to record a few more of his nuggets, and fill us full of some hot’n’happy air for the next couple of days (at least)…
    Don’t wanna dwell on what we just saw, or lived through. Plenty o’time for negatives later. The only thing that TRULY rankled me about yesterday (outcome expected) was that the Bosox did TWO double steals. It must be true that both of our deceased grandmothers could steal bases on Rag Arm and Rag Arm Junior with impunity; who knew that those dear ol’ gals could really motor? Ah well…
    They made it. Beautifully and beastly, all at once. Gasping and struggling, but there they are. As you say, 24 other franchises grind their teeth. Shades of Tigertown, 2006? Sure hope so. We should ask Grandis Curtison, who was there for that. Maybe — just maybe — our mental focus will be WAY up — so that maybe Wild Bill’s “Jeet Prediction” may not be all that kray-zee. After all, he DOES speak of the Pompatus of Love. Whazzat?? Nobody really does know…and that’s what makes it so grand…!

  10. kaiserthegreat

    So the Hot Dog Man was the reason for that weird game? I had no idea. If memory serves that was the same game where Lincecum pitched a ball so chaotic even he couldn’t figure out where it went.

  11. Jane Heller

    Aaaagh, those double steals, Dave. We have that to look forward to against the Twins if our catchers (actually Posada will probably catch all the games) don’t get bionic arms between now and Wednesday. Of course the pitchers need to be on their guard too. Too many things to worry about right now. I mean did I need one more article in the paper telling me that the Yanks have never won as the wild card team? Stats are just stats. Anything can happen. I’m staying positive until the end!

  12. raysrenegade

    Both teams had the golden leaf plate set in front of them. One ate from it, the other had it taken away by a pest. Great thing is we both have spot in the post season. Lost is a few trinkets and a cloth banner, but both teams still fought to the last out (and in some case beyond the usual 27 outs).
    Just got to applaud both teams, shake hands and come out fighting for the second season.
    Hopefully within two weeks time, both our teams can settle this like true players…on the clay and grass again battling for 7-games..just like contests like this should end.

    By the way, the Yankees and Rays will play each other in a home-and-home series in 5 games in the last 8 of the 2011 season, the last three in St. Petersburg.

    Rays Renegade


  13. Jane Heller

    I was about to stop by and congratulate you, Renegade, but you beat me to it as usual! I only hope we get to face each other again in the second round. We’ll try to do our part, so you try to do yours and it’ll all work out. But don’t make me even think about facing the Rays at the end of next season. I’ve got enough on that golden leaf plate you mentioned.

    HAHA, Mike. OK, one with mustard and extra onions. I’ll place your order the next time I’m with Surf Dog. You won’t be disappointed.

  14. Jane Heller

    Glad you stopped by, kaiser. I wanted to congratulate you on the Giants’ entry into the postseason. What an exciting finish for your guys!

  15. ftyankeefan@aol.com

    Hi, I loved hearing from Surf Dog again. He’s so positive, and now I am too. We can finally put the regular season behind us and gather all our energy and enthusiasm for the playoffs. GO YANKEES! Freya

  16. Jane Heller

    I’m sure you enjoyed Surf Dog’s strategy for beating the Phillies, Peter. Just plunk Howard every time he comes up! LOL

  17. Jane Heller

    Isn’t he positive, Freya? Even when I pointed out certain “realities,” he waved me off and was determined to look on the bright side. So we must do the same. Can’t wait until Wednesday.

  18. devilabrit

    LMAO… Surf Dog is hilarious he may have eaten 1 too many hot dogs or something with some of his predictions, I’m not sure about Joba or the Giants, but anything can happen here on out….


    Phillies Outside

  19. wetfeet

    Jane don’t worry if the yanks don’t get past Min. the RANGERS will be there again next year we will get a chance to see the yanks & RANGERS in the playoffs someday!!

  20. yankeesfan27

    How come we don’t have home field advg. against the Twins? We have a better record. We have a better head to head record. Anyone know?

  21. Jane Heller

    Yankeesfan27, the Twins won their division and we didn’t. As kaiser says, wild cards don’t get home field. That’s why I wanted us to win the AL East!

    I’m not worrying just yet, wetfeet. Let’s talk again after your series against the Rays is all wrapped up. Good luck!

    I had the same thought today, Barbara. At first I was relieved not to have a game tonight. But then I realized that once the postseason is over for us, there won’t be ANY games. Sigh.

  22. bgalaxy@verizon.net

    ok. i am already missing daily baseball. how will i ever get through the cold off season? i guess i need to get a life that isn’t yankee dominated. i have other interests but few top a yankee win.

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