Friday, May 16, 2008

Deathtour~!: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

Los Angeles: home of the hated Dodger franchise, the scourge of the Giants fan. I was anxious leading up to my trip to Dodger stadium. When I was first planning the Deathtour I considered visiting 29 stadiums and leaving the Dodgers out. Why should I spend time on a team I’ve despised for my entire life? Surely setting foot on Chavez Ravine was sacrilegious. Would I be able to keep my sanity surrounded by blue hats and jerseys if I went? But 30 teams mean 30 teams, and I had to go whether I wanted to or not.

Dodger Stadium is an absolute hole of a ballpark. In the second largest metropolis in the country, the stadium is located in the middle of nowhere. A giant thing surrounded by a concrete lot surrounded by empty space. In many ways it reminds me of Candlestick, but that’s almost an insult to Candlestick which was at least gifted with that famous wind. Dodger Stadium is void of character, extraordinary for being ordinary. Every stadium I’ve been to so far has been defined by its surroundings – the city, the neighborhood, local business, citizens, etc. The best way I can describe Dodger stadium is this: Imagine the middle of nowhere. Now imagine a baseball stadium in that space. That’s Dodger Stadium. In some ways I’m glad it’s still standing. It’s another reason to dislike this team.

As there was nothing to do before the game, we arrived early, atypical of most Dodger fans (at least according to the reputation we’ve given them), so that I could ‘admire’ this magnificent structure. I’ve started every game by walking around the concourse to take in the concessions, dugout stores and the view of the field from the promenade. Dodger stadium however is built right into the mountain and view level ticket holders enter at the top level so there was no lower level walk for me to enjoy. So I spent the hour before the game taking in the stadiums ‘features’ from the comfort of my seat. For instance, the, uh…palm trees beyond the left field bleachers. You don’t see those everywhere in southern California. Or the bleachers themselves, which would fit right in at any college or high school field in the country. Just before game time we were treated to a mini concert consisting of the Anthem, God Bless America and a completely original song about fighting cancer (It’s Mothers Day, so Cancer awareness was on the agenda). I was able to make it through the first song before feeling the need to excuse myself. I’ve always felt that our patriotic songs are pretty terrible as songs and aren’t really worthy of our country and I try to avoid hearing them whenever possible. Seriously, we can do better in this department.

Part of my tour is keeping score at every game, which makes getting up for food mid-way through difficult. And since eating something from the concession stands is also part of the tour I try to stuff something in my mouth before the game starts. So I took the Anthem as my opportunity to secure a Dodger Dog which, in my experience, has a solid reputation as being one of the best hotdogs in the country. It’s even gotten praise from the Giants’ announcing crew and it’s fair to say that savoring a Dodger Dog was the only thing I was looking forward to that day. Unfortunately I was misled. There’s nothing special about it. All the world’s relish and onion supply couldn’t save that thing. A disappointing day all around, so far.

The game would save the day. In all the games I’ve been to I’ve never been witness to anything historical. I’ve never seen a record breaking performance. I’ve never watched a perfect game or no-hitter or seen a hitter hit 4 home runs or hit for the cycle. I’ve watched many Barry Bonds home runs. I watched Livan Hernandez throw a complete game shutout. I saw Jason Schmidt’s most impressive performance of his career. But I’ve never seen anything historic. I had a chance to catch Maddux’s 350th win but Hoffman blew that game. With 30 games on the schedule this season I’m hoping my chances are good to see something truly special, and through 6 innings at Dodger stadium I was, and I couldn’t have been more depressed about it. Hiroki Kuroda, the Dodgers’ starting pitcher had a no-hitter. I’ve always wanted to see a no-hitter. But NO WAY would seeing a Dodger throw one be acceptable to me. I couldn’t live with that. Finally, with 2 outs in the 7th, Hunter Pence poked one through the hole to break up the no-no, and there couldn’t have been a happier person at that ballpark. It got even better for me when Kuroda was replaced and the Dodgers’ bullpen, strong all year, quickly surrendered the lead, giving up 7 runs in the 8th and 9th innings. What looked like a sure Dodger win quickly turned into a Houston blowout and a happy ending for me.

A few random thoughts during the game

I hate beach balls. And I think every God fearing Giants fan does too. I counted 9 beach balls over the course of the game and I would have given anything to pop one of those things. I almost prayed for it to happen. And I don’t pray. Period…The second offence of these fans? The wave. Just awful. Is there a sports tradition any more repugnant? I can’t even bring myself to type anything more about it…Every game seems to carry a lesson. San Diego’s was “prepare for cold weather”. Seattle’s was “make sure the camera battery is charged”. Los Angeles’ was “bring sun block”. Thank Zod I always wear a hat…

Approaching the stadium.

Yup. That's a baseball stadium all right...

The Void...

The Wave's coming right at you and you can't escape it. Sounds like the tag for M. Night Shyamalan's next film.

This was the most visually interesting picture I could think to take. Yeah...

He has a brother "ALSO NAMED CARLOS"? Best Scoreboard Tidbit Ever~! I can't even imagine that conversation his parents had before Carlos number 2 was born.

They let all the moms walk around the field after the game. I took a picture of right field as we were leaving. When I later looked at this picture I thought my computer had reversed the image. That's right, I couldn't tell the difference between left and right field.

1 comment:

ed said...

You're a brave and noble man for enduring the sticky confines of Chavez Latrine and living to tell the tale.

You know the old saying: "That which does not kill us... The Dodgers suck!"

dreaming of
the yard by
the bay