Los Angeles Dodgers
L: H. Bailey
W: C. Kershaw
S: K. Jansen
This is the third oldest ballpark in the country (behind Fenway and Wrigley) and still a fantastic place to watch a ball game. I took my mom to the stadium tour in the morning before going to the game in the evening. I am confident that I just had the quintessential LA baseball experience packed with celebrity sightings, great baseball, Vin Scully and traffic. After being disappointed with the Southern California fan base in Anaheim, my faith was restored in Chavez Ravine as the Dodgers faithful were passionate, loud and supportive of their surging ball club.
With all of the driving and long days in the hot sun, my exercise regiment has fallen by the wayside. For the first time in weeks I started my day by going to the hotel gym and doing some cardio. My body was not happy with me. It has also been too long since I had my last massage, so I plan on scheduling one once I get to Minneapolis. After my brief workout, it was time to visit Dodger Stadium to take a tour of the 41-year old ball park.
The tour itself was pretty standard, but we got to see a preview of the Korean National Tae Kwon-Do team practice for their performance later tonight at the game. As knowledgeable and engaging as our tour guide Tiffany was, it was hard to concentrate on what she was saying with the mesmerizing performance happening so casually in the outfield. As always, we went to the press box, luxury suites and the dugouts. Being in the dugout will always be fun for me, but what was extra special was seeing how excited my mom was to be on the field. It has been many years since I have attended a sporting event with my mom. The game is still many hours away, but I forgot how much fun it is to be at a ballgame with her.
After the tour we had some time to kill so we went to Trader Joe's, Costco and Whole foods to stock up the car for the upcoming 30-hour drive. After that it was right back to Chavez Ravine to park in the long line of cars waiting to enter the parking lot. The gates at Dodger Stadium open two hours before first pitch. Unfortunately the gates to the parking lot also open two hours before first pitch. This leads to a lineup of cars outside of the metal barricade with people hanging out of the sides of their cars blaring music and chatting with their car neighbors. The atmosphere in line is a strange one as there is not really any “tailgating” in the traditional sense that goes on, but there are plenty of people standing next to their idling cars playing catch and hanging out. I met a family from Las Vegas near the front of the line and had a great chat with them for the podcast.
Once the parking lot opened up, my mom and I hustled into the stadium so that I could take some photos and eat a famous Dodger Dog. What we realized upon entering was that although the gates were opened, the full park would not be accessible for another half hour. In the meantime however, the Dodgers give their fans one of the more unique experiences I have seen this summer. Next to the home team dugout on the field, there is a roped off area where small groups of fans can gather to get some autographs. The line stretched high up through the stands and into the concourse, but for a set amount of time (approximately 10-15 minutes by my count), groups of about 30 were corralled onto the left field warning track and patiently waited to get something signed. Reds manager Dusty Baker spent almost 10 minutes himself signing as many bats, balls, photos, hats etc. as he could grab. I have never been much of an autograph man myself, but for those of you who are, Dodger Stadium has been the best place I have seen to meet a ballplayer.
Obviously one of the attractions at Dodger Stadium is the celebrity watching. Thanks to the Dodgers red hot play as of late, the Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig and with ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw toeing the rubber for tonight's game, the stars were certainly out for this one. My mom and I sat behind home plate several rows up, but much like an aquarium, we had a great top down view of the Hollywood elite soaking up some baseball. Those we saw include Magic Johnson (this was a gimme), Jason Bateman, Kieth Olbermann, Rob Reiner, Bryan Cranston, Eric Stonestreet, Dennis Haysbert and George Lopez. What stood out to me about observing these folks was that each person made it a point to walk over and talk to Magic in between innings and snap a picture with him. It must be exhausting to be famous.
As we walked around the concourse I really started to like this stadium more and more. Although Wrigley and Fenway are not scheduled for a couple of weeks, I have been to both in the past. I have also spent time in old Tiger Stadium and old Yankee Stadium. I mention all of this to point out that while I have seen live games played in many historic parks, there is something about this stadium that feels different. When I walked around the concourse I felt baseball everywhere I went. My mom mentioned to me that after seeing the photos I have taken of the previous parks, she was expecting more amenities at Dodger Stadium. Most of the modern stadiums are in the entertainment business. There are batting cages, video game kiosks, children's play areas and more scattered throughout the concourse to enhance the experience of the paying customer. This is a baseball stadium and nothing more. The entertainment value are the nine guys on the field and the man standing at the plate.
And now comes the paragraph that I was dreading writing. It was time for me to get some food. Obviously my only option was the famed Dodger Dog. I headed over to the Elysian Park Grill and ordered myself a Dodger Dog and a Super Dodger Dog (100% beef) with great anticipation. Upon seeing what an actual Dodger Dog was I was ridiculously disappointed. It's just a Farmer John hot dog. That is it. There is nothing else to it. No chili, no bacon, no cheese, no onions, no peppers...I think you see where I am going with this. It is just a hot dog. It was not a bad hot dog, but it was not exactly the best hot dog I have ever tasted. I am sorry people of Los Angeles, but your Dodger Dog is rather ordinary. Roundingthirdpodcast@gmail.com is where you can let me know why I am an idiot.
Here is where I win the Los Angelenos that I lost in my Dodger Dog rant back. After visiting Angels park and being shocked at how little the crowd seemed to care about the play on the field I was wary about the Southern California fans. In addition to the lack of enthusiasm I witnessed in Anaheim, the overused cliché in reference to LA fans is that they all leave well before the final out is recorded. I am unbelievably happy to report that not only was this crowd amazing; but I saw barely anybody leave their seats until Kenley Jansen struck out Jay Bruce swinging.
With Clayton Kershaw on the mound facing off against Homer Bailey the game flew by clocking in at just over two and a half hours. This was the first baseball game that I have attended with my mother in almost twenty years. Starting now, it is my mission to make sure that we go to more games together. I had such a blast with her that I am actually kind of sad that I did not invite her to come along earlier. The only thing missing from this is my dad, but he and I have seen enough games together.
Part of what has been amazing about this tour is the people that I am meeting sitting in the stands. Today was no different. I met a man named Richard Price who was sitting in this very ballpark 51 years ago during the inaugural season of Dodger Stadium. Subscribe to the podcast to hear some great Dodger Stadium stories and more from Richard and myself.
This is the second game I have seen Kershaw pitch and for the second time he pitched a gem. The first was in Colorado where he threw a four-hit shutout and now in the comfort of his own park, he scattered six hits over eight innings allowing just one earned run. Being a Tigers fan I have had the privilege of watching Justin Verlander mow down the opposition for the past seven years, but this Kershaw kid is something special. This is an exciting team out here on the West Coast, and with the Giants owning two of the past three World Series trophies, baseball's elite teams may be located in the Pacific Time Zone for the foreseeable future.
As I mentioned above, I was very impressed with the home town fans. Those of you who look down your noses on California baseball need to wake up. Two of the most exciting stadiums I have gone to this summer are located in the The Golden State. Between my time in Oakland and Los Angeles, whatever East Coast bias I may have had has now evaporated.
I was fully prepared for what I call the eighth inning exodus. It happens in almost every stadium and as much as it annoys me, I have come to expect it. No matter what the score is, after the home team bats in the bottom of the ninth there is a steady stream of “fans” with their backs to the field and marching out to the parking lot. I have heard the excuse of “I am just walking to the top of the stairs where I can still see the game, but I can exit immediately after the final out is recorded”. This is nonsense and I do not accept it. Stay in your seat and cheer on your team through 27 outs please. I am not here to say that Dodger fans never leave a game early, but for tonight's game they sat, or rather stood, and loudly supported their ball club and were rewarded with a thrilling 2-1 finish. The reason I have mentioned it a couple of times is that I am sick of LA having the reputation of fans leaving early. At least for this moment in time and at this game, the SoCal fans represented what it truly is to be a baseball fan.
Aside from the disappointing Dodger Dog, sorry I could not pass up the alliteration, this was the perfect game for my mom to attend with me. It was a fast moving, well pitched game that included enough offense to keep it exciting. The home team got the win sending the fans to the parking lots happy. Before the fans could leave however, the night sky above Chavez Ravine was lit up by a fantastic fireworks show. One of the benefits of getting to the stadium so crazily early is that my car was in the perfect position to pull out and get right onto the highway. For all of the complaining about traffic, we arrived at our hotel a mere 20 minutes after pulling out of the lots at Dodger Stadium. It is a good thing too, because now begins the long journey back across America as my mother and I head East to Minnesota.
Next up: Target Field
Game Time Temp: 76
First Pitch Time: 7:10 PM
First Pitch: Bryan Cranston
National Anthem: Zendaya
Seventh Inning Stretch: Take me out to the Ballgame with Vin Scully
Total Pitches Thrown: 248
Total Hits: 13
Total Singles: 8
Total Doubles: 4
Total Triples: 0
Total Home Runs: 1
Total Walks: 1
Total Strike Outs: 16
Total Errors: 0
Game Time: 2:33
Attendance: 51,841 (92.6% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Alfonso Marquez
Miles Traveled: 46 miles
Time in Car: 1 hour 30 minutes
Sleep Time: 7 Hours
Bottles of Water: 5
Food Eaten: Pasta from Whole Foods
Ballpark Food: Dodger Dog and Super Dodger Dog, Ice Cream helmet,
Scoreboard Cap Game: Under Cap #2
Money spent on parking: $10
Money spent on ticket: $91.07
Cost of Program: Free
Money spent on food: $16.50
Total money spent on Merchandise: $13.90
Total Money spent at stadium: $131.47
Total Money spent today $156.19