It was the only time I ever liked hearing Guns & Roses. It was the ninth inning in the spring of 2003 and Dodger Stadium was alive. The Dodgers were winning by one run with the two men on and one out over our hated rivals, The San Francisco Giants. Two of the Giants' best hitters were coming up; one was Jeff Kent, the good ol’boy from Texas, sporting his trademark porn stash under his nose. He looked, as it was said in the movie, Serpico, like “an asshole with dentures.” After him, the most feared hitter in baseball, Barry Bonds, was up. Bonds was all “juiced up” and ready to break fifty thousand screaming Dodgers fans' hearts with one swing of the bat.
“Welcome To The Jungle” blasted through the Dodger P.A. The bullpen doors swung open and out came our hero. Last year, Eric Gagne was an average pitcher at best. He would be lights out for about three innings and then it looked liked he either became tired, bored or both. At that point, Gagne's concentration would collapse and it became batting practice for the opposing team until they pulled Gagne out of the game. Anytime I checked the newspaper to see who would be the probable pitchers that night and Gagne was listed, I knew the Dodgers were in for a long night. Not anymore. Over the off-season Gagne morphed into a hulk-like relief pitcher with absolutely no fear. As Axel Rose started to scream, the video screen flashed a cartoon of Gagne’s face with the words flashing underneath: “GAME OVER.” Then the crowd went bananas! Gagne jogged slowly to the mound, almost intentionally, to start his warm-up tosses. He was the cleaner; he was the assassin that would be sent to clean up the mess when everything went awry. I sat in the cheap seats on the top of the stadium with my fellow Mexicanos, mixed in with the Koreans and Ronnie Barnett, laughing to myself. This couldn’t have been more Hollywood.