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A behind enemy lines look at the hysteria inside Dodger Stadium with Astros in town

A bad idea just got worse. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images.

When did Dodger Stadium, known for its late-arriving, early-leaving, laid back fans, A-list celebrities and wealthy Hollywood producers enjoying cocktails with their "niece" (yeah right, she's your niece), turn into the Coliseum?

And I don't mean the Houston Coliseum with rabid, crazy fans during the heyday of Paul Boesch and Mid-South Wrestling during the '70s and '80s.

I'm talking about the Coliseum in ancient Rome, where the next-day sports section read more like an obituary page for gladiators.

Last month, my son Andrew and his buddies Matthew and another Matthew said, "We're going to Los Angeles when the Astros are there for two games against the Dodgers. It's going to be wild."

I thought, that's a bad idea.

They added, "We're going to wear our Astros jerseys."

Bad idea just got worse.

Tuesday night they texted a photo of themselves at the game - decked out in more Astros gear than septuagenarian manager Dusty Baker, who dresses like he expects to pinch hit in the ninth.

It didn't help that my son wore his 2017 Jose Altuve jersey with the World Series patch. Nice touch. That's like breaking into a house, robbing the place clean, and leaving a business card.

Second inning I got a text: "This is brutal. These idiot fans are throwing stuff at us."

Like what?

"Beer cans, hot dogs, you name it. This is getting serious. They're ejecting people left and right. These fans are scary."

Before I could say, "I told you so," I remembered a couple of months ago when ESPN 97.5 radio host Charlie Pallilo and I flew up to New York for the Astros' first visit to Yankee Stadium since the Astros cheating scandal was made public – just to see how crazy the crowd would treat the Astros. It was mayhem, same as the Dodger crowd this week, but on a smaller scale because New York COVID-rules limited the crowd to 11,000 fans.

Charlie and I never felt in danger, though. We didn't wear Astros jerseys and caps. Yankee fans' chants of "Cheater!" and "F-Altuve" and "F-Correa" flew over our heads. I was thinking, this is so dumb. Because of free agency, don't these fans know that Astros shortstop Carlos Correa could be Yankees shortstop Carlos Correa next year? No one in Toronto (or Florida or Buffalo) is yelling "cheater" at George Springer this year. These supposedly mortal enemy players are multimillionaires business partners who belong to the same union. F-Altuve? No, Yankee and Dodger fans need to calm the F-down.

Dodger Stadium this week was a lit fuse. They packed the stands 52,000-plus both games, biggest crowds of the year. They threw things on the field, at players. They went after Astros fans. They fought among themselves (no problem with that).

After the games, security directed some Astros fans wearing Houston jerseys to stay in their seats for 20-30 minutes to allow the Dodger crowd to leave. Then security escorted the Astros fans to the parking lot. My son and his friends got a free ride in the back of a police car off stadium property.

"It got serious the first game when three or four security guards came to our seats and told us they were going to stay near us for the rest of the game. They told us flat out, 'You're not safe." They said they would walk us out after the game," my son said.

"They put us in a police car and drove us onto Sunset Boulevard. We didn't expect that. They left us off at a bar but we couldn't get in because the bar required vaccination cards and I didn't bring mine."

What was my son's takeaway from his two nights in the lion's den of Dodger Stadium?

"Nolan Ryan hot dogs are a hundred times better than Dodger Dogs. Dodger Dogs suck."

Acorn … tree.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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