Daily Distractions: When baseball imitates reality television (accidentally or otherwise).

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen jumps into the Chase Field pool after Thursday’s win. (Associated Press photo)

Sports is the original reality television. Nothing like a little drama to spice it up, right?

Forget “Poolgate.” Call the controversy over the Dodgers’ postgame celebration “The Real World: Phoenix” (and hope MTV doesn’t keep a copyright attorney on retainer).

Apparently, prior to the series, the Arizona Diamondbacks asked the Dodgers to confine their clinching celebration to the visitors’ clubhouse. They even stationed some security guards on the field Thursday to make sure the Dodgers didn’t do anything crazy:

As it always does, human nature set in. When someone is ordered not to do something, he finds his best way around it. Ever pull into the carpool lane while stuck in traffic and driving alone? Ever sneak a peak at your phone at a red light, look for a cop, then quickly put the phone away? (There was a case of crude rebellion on Project Runway last night. Ah, reality TV — the reality is, I was ironing before you got into the room!)

The Dodgers ran across the field and into the pool.

The incident has spawned some lengthy prose about celebrations and their place in baseball.

Even Arizona senator John McCain chimed in today:

Again, this wasn’t about a celebration.

Hall, now the Diamondbacks’ president, is the Dodgers’ former director of public relations. He may have discretely asked the Dodgers not to go back onto the field to celebrate, but then how did Scully find out and mention this on the broadcast? That got the fans involved, too. Pretty brilliant way to incite a rivalry, accidentally or otherwise.

Seeing the drama go viral, it’s not hard to imagine Hall sipping on some champagne himself this morning.

Some bullet points to get you through the weekend:
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Arizona Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 4.

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly wipes his brow after Adrian Gonzalez was ejected in the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 9-4 loss. (Associated Press photo)

Hold the champagne.

The Dodgers still haven’t figured out this whole playoff-berth-cinching thing in the Don Mattingly era.

Their magic number is still two, and the division title could be theirs by this time tomorrow — before any other team in the majors wraps up a playoff berth — but the Dodgers endured a frustrating evening Wednesday in their first opportunity to clinch the National League West.
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Yasiel Puig returns to the lineup, along with most Dodgers regulars.

Chris Capuano

Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano starts against the Reds in Cincinnati today. (Associated Press)

The Dodgers used three lineups in Colorado that had never been seen before in 2013. If the last two are never seen again (Michael Young batted fourth and Nick Punto second both Tuesday and Wednesday against the Rockies), many wouldn’t complain.

On Friday in Cincinnati, Don Mattingly went with a more conventional, October-ready lineup against the Reds. Unlike the sub-.500 Colorado team, Cincinnati is battling for position in the National League Central, which will likely send three teams to the playoffs.

For the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig returns to the number-two slot after being relegated to pinch-hit duty Tuesday and Wednesday because of a stiff right knee. The heart of the lineup looks familiar too, and only A.J. Ellis gets a day off among the starters. (Tim Federowicz caught Chris Capuano‘s last start, in which the left-hander allowed one run in seven innings in San Diego.) Capuano was given the starting assignment when Hyun-Jin Ryu came down with stiffness in his middle back.

For Cincinnati, Brandon Phillips is batting second and playing second, one day after leaving a game in Philadelphia with a left quad contusion.

Pete Rose is at Great American Ballpark for an unveiling of a Joe Morgan statue. (Morgan is in the house, too.) Miss Hooters International is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Both lineups for the 4:10 p.m. first pitch (Prime Ticket has the broadcast):
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Daily Distractions: Are you ready for some ping pong?

Clayton Kershaw ping pong

Clayton Kershaw and Neil Patrick Harris once stood on opposite sides of a ping-pong table. (courtesy the Jimmy Kimmel show)


The Dodgers’ best pitcher has already used his prowess on the mound to raise awareness and considerable money for charity. Since he’s the best table tennis player on the Dodgers too, why not keep a good thing going?

Tomorrow night, Dodger Stadium will morph into the most star-studded, expensive, baseball-park-turned-ping-pong venue we’ve heard of. For $1,000, you can watch Kershaw, his manager, and some of his Hollywood pals and Dodger teammates whack around some small white balls for charity. For $2,000 (individual) or $10,000 (group), you can join in.

“Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet will emcee the event and DJ Skee will control the music. Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson is scheduled to participate, as is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. (We’re hoping for some NBA-related smack talk between the two.) Among those also scheduled to participate: Jason Bateman, Adrian Gonzalez, Ken Jeong, Alyssa Milano, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Larry King, Tony La Russa, Maria Menounos, Lamorne Morris, Christopher “Drama” Pfaff, Ben Lyons, Willie McGinest, Tim Federowicz, Matthew Perry, George Lopez, Andre Ethier, Josh Henderson, J.P. Howell, Mardy Fish, Rick Honeycutt, Jerry Hairston Jr., Drew Kenney, and A.J. Ellis.

The tournament is scheduled to take place from 6 to 10 p.m. Here’s some more information.

Kershaw pitched well last night and today is Don Denkinger‘s birthday. On that note:
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Yasiel Puig has a new nickname and Chris Capuano has a new catcher.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier has started eight straight games for the Dodgers, batting .310 with a home run and a double. He was not in Sunday’s lineup. (Getty Images)

When the pitcher isn’t pitching well, change the catcher.

That was the thinking behind having A.J. Ellis catch Chris Capuano today for the first time since May 29. While the Dodgers haven’t lost a game started by Capuano since July 4, the left-hander has a 7.53 earned-run average in his last three outings and his rotation spot could be in jeopardy come September. Tim Federowicz had caught Capuano’s last 11 starts dating back to June 19.

“I wanted to kind of mix that up just a little bit,” manager Don Mattingly said. “One start with Ricky (Nolasco), A.J. caught him. Then Fed went back to him. I want to keep the mixture of guys’ playing time the same. Cap’s been OK the last couple times out and I just wanted to change the dynamic just a little bit.”

Second baseman Mark Ellis and center fielder Andre Ethier were both healthy scratches against Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy. Yasiel Puig is playing right field and batting fifth for the first time in his major-league career, while Skip Schumaker is batting sixth and playing center field.

The left-handed hitting Ethier typically sits against left-handed pitchers, and Peavy is almost equally stingy against lefties (.254/.289/.465) and righties (.240/.282/.399).

“I needed Puiggy back there a little bit,” Mattingly said. “It’s easier for me just to move one guy. With the group of guys I have in there today, it’s more balanced.”

Based on an informal press box poll, that might be the first time Mattingly has referred to Puig as “Puiggy.”

Both lineups for the 5:05 p.m. game:
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Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz gets his chance to face former team.

Tim FederowiczThere was one former Red Sox player in the Dodgers clubhouse Monday who didn’t draw a crowd of reporters when he arrived at his locker stall.

That’s probably because Tim Federowicz never advanced past Double-A while he was a member of the Red Sox organization. The Dodgers’ catcher said he came close to getting called up in 2011, the year he was traded along with Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez in a three-way trade that sent Trayvon Robinson to Seattle.

“I think if there was somebody to get called up my last year there, it would’ve been me,” said Federowicz, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. “There were different times I can’t go into where it almost happened.”

Federowicz was five days from his 24th birthday when the trade happened. That’s a large reason he never broke through with the Red Sox, who didn’t give more than 50 plate appearances to a player 25 or older that season. (The only 24-year-old regular, outfielder Josh Reddick, was traded to Oakland after the season for a pair of older players.)

Boston’s current active roster features two position players 25 or younger, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks (who climbed the minor-league ladder at the same time as Federowicz), plus pitchers Brayan Villareal and Drake Britton.

“It’s good,” Federowicz said. “I think it’s part of the reason for their success, getting guys who enjoy coming to the ballpark every day. It pushes the old guys.”

Federowicz will catch Ricky Nolasco for the fourth time in Nolasco’s last five starts. A.J. Ellis gets the day off after starting a day game after a night game in Miami on Thursday.

Tim Federowicz called his first two major league home runs.

Tim Federowicz

Tim Federowicz predicted his first major-league home run a few hours before hitting it Saturday in Denver. (Getty Images)

Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz probably couldn’t do anything to upstage Yasiel Puig‘s thunderous entrance into Major League Baseball, short of calling his first major-league home run.

Funny thing is, he did call it.

Called the next one, too.
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With Matt Kemp on the disabled list, Dodgers will recall a ‘true center fielder’ soon.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp leaves the field with athletic trainer Nancy Pattersonon Wednesday night after straining his right hamstring in a 4-3 loss to the Angels (Associated Press)

Of all the frustrations Matt Kemp has had to deal with this season, a trip to the disabled list was not among them — until Thursday.

Kemp is optimistic he can return once his 15 days are up, which projects to June 14 at Pittsburgh, after straining his right hamstring Wednesday night in Anaheim.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “I love playing baseball. I hate being hurt. This is my second year of being hurt.

“This is a small little obstacle but I’m used to playing 162 games and playing every day.”

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Mark Ellis activated from disabled list; Tim Federowicz optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Mark EllisThe Dodgers activated Mark Ellis from the 15-day disabled list Sunday and optioned catcher Tim Federowicz to Triple-A Albuquerque. Ellis is playing second base and batting second against the Atlanta Braves.

Federowicz has started three games behind the plate this season, two in May since his most recent call-up from Triple-A. He’s batting .176 (3 for 17) with three singles this season. Ramon Hernandez goes back to being A.J. Ellis’ primary backup.

Ellis hasn’t played since straining his right quadriceps muscle on April 26. He went 0 for 4 with a walk in two rehabilitation games with Double-A Chattanooga on Friday and Saturday.

Tim Federowicz is the backup catcher again; Justin Sellers optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Tim Federowicz

Tim Federowicz posted a 1.643 OPS after being demoted to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Tim Federowicz returned to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. In his mind, and on the depth chart, it was like he never left.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Federowicz will be the team’s number-two catcher, supplanting veteran Ramon Hernandez, whose 0 for 4 performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday lowered his batting average to .045. Hernandez, who was obtained from Colorado for pitcher Aaron Harang on April 6, is staying on as the Dodgers’ third catcher.
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