Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
L: A. Griffin
W: J. Weaver
S: E. Frieri
Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Finally it is time once again for some live baseball. It feels like forever since I sat inside a stadium. Although it may have been a mistake following up my amazing time in Oakland with a trip to the land of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I have very mixed feelings about this stadium and the fans inside. This is a beautiful park, but in the 9th inning with two outs on the board, I literally heard crickets. Don't believe me? At the bottom of this post I included audio of the little creatures drowning out the crowd noise.
I started the day grabbing breakfast at the Griddle Cafe with my buddy Tree and his girlfriend Jenny. With my insane travel days coming up I went to Trader Joe's and Walgreens to stock up on some supplies for the road (fruits, nuts, water). After that it was off to Anaheim to enjoy a divisional match-up between the first place Oakland A's and the underachieving Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Saying that the Angles are from LA is a bit misleading as it took me almost an hour to get to their stadium in Anaheim from Los Angeles.
Once I got there I noticed some kids playing ball in the parking lot and quite a few tailgaters setting up tents around the stadium. I spoke with a group of young Angels fans in the back of their pickup truck and recorded our talk for the podcast. I always like seeing young people come out to the ball park so this was a conversation that I really enjoyed having. The stadium has a dedicated parking lot so once you enter the area there is not much to do aside from the tailgating. With game time approaching I quickly walked around the exterior of the park to snap some photos before entering the gates.
Upon entering I was a little disappointed at the access the fans are granted before game time. Thus far, in every park I have visited, fans have been able to congregate between the dugouts and behind home plate before the game. This gives every person the opportunity to be close to the field and maybe snag a ball or an autograph without having to pay the ridiculous prices these seats often demand. An hour before game time is generally when fans are asked to retreat to their own seats, but here in Anaheim nobody was allowed to enter the area in between the dugouts unless they had a ticket for those seats. Before each game I normally do my best to wander around the park and get a view from every angle of the park. I was very disappointed that in a stadium where I spent over $90 on a ticket – from the Angels ticket offices and not the secondary market – there was such a large section of the field that I was not allowed to walk through.
Normally when I attend baseball games, I like sitting on the top level of the stadium in the front row so I can see the entire field of play and track what each player is doing at any moment. The view from the upper concourse at Angels Stadium is quite spectacular. I will get into my problems with the fans a little later, but for now I will say that I was very happy to see this stadium completely packed even though the Angels have had a spectacularly rough season.
There was another section on the upper concourse that was roped off behind the rock formation in center field. This was clearly for a private party, which is something that I see in almost every stadium, but I was still a bit annoyed not being allowed to walk between the dugouts. There is a lot to this stadium that I was unable to truly explore, but I guess that is how they get you to come back! Although I had some small issues with this park, I will absolutely be making another trip out here some time soon.
There was a band playing some live music outside of the concourse, but as you can see in the photo posted in the gallery above, not many people were interested in hanging out on the lawn. I walked around some more and ran into several Oakland A's fans standing in line for food. The crazy bleacher fans that I was mesmerized by at the O.Co Coliseum had made the trip down to Anaheim. I was excited to meet them and let them know how enjoyable they had made my time in Oakland. Little did I know, but I would be sitting next to two of these super fans here at Angels stadium.
He calls himself Coco Fingers because of the hair (Coco Crisp) and the mustache (Rollie Fingers). He is at the majority of home games in Oakland and he never takes off the mask. He and his A's brethren made the most noise inside Angels stadium tonight, despite being on the losing end of the battle. To the Angels fans reading this, I apologize for including so much A's stuff in your home team's report. I genuinely tried to find some passionate Angels fans inside the stadium and came up a little short. If you feel like I missed something or want to set me straight on your fan base you can always shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before we get to the game however it is time to check in with my food choice for today. I stood in the long line at Chronic Tacos and purchased a trio of tacos featuring chicken, taco and steak and was pleasantly surprised. Being on the West Coast has definitely helped me eat relatively healthier at the ballpark as I am trying to stay away from the BBQ sandwiches, burgers and dogs. There of course vegetarian and healthy options like salads at parks across the country, but eating that would be no fun at all.
The Angels have been spending quite a bit of money recently in an attempt to get back to their winning ways of 2002. Unfortunately for them the money they have spent off the field has not translated to wins on the field. In fact, their most productive player of the past two seasons has been a player making near the league minimum in Mike Trout. I feel like I have been beating up on the Angels this entire post and I certainly did not intend to do so, but what I said about the A's fans deserving credit for their team's success, I have to put a bit of the blame on the Angels struggles on their fans. This may sound harsh, but I was genuinely shocked at how silent the crowd remained throughout the winning efforts of their home team.
In a game that featured a stellar pitching performance by Jarod Weaver as well as home runs from the aforementioned Trout, Erick Aybar and the 491st home run of Albert Pujols' career; this crowd could not have cared less. The idea that an energetic fan base can spark a struggling team is not a new one. Conversely, a fan base that sits on its hands for 9 innings can suck that same energy right out of the stadium and the team. The A's fans who had traveled down from Oakland and were scattered throughout the stadium made more noise than the other 43,000 plus Angels fans combined. I did not see a lot of Green and Gold jerseys walking around the park so I was quite surprised at how vocal they ended up being.
From a baseball perspective this game should have been one of the most fun on my tour thus far. The home team's pitcher was mowing down the opposition inning after inning and the offense was putting on a mini-home run derby of their own. In the top of the 9th inning the Angels were up 4-0. I honestly did not even realize that it was the 9th because of how quiet it was. The A's even put up a run in the 9th bringing the score a little closer to 4-1. I did not expect to see Balfour Rage when Angels closer Ernesto Frieri trotted out to the mound; but what I heard, or rather did not hear, inside this stadium was incredibly depressing.
That is literally the sound of crickets on the field of Angels Stadium in the 9th inning with 2 outs and a save situation. I frantically looked around me to see if anyone was leaving, but as this was a fireworks night there were still thousands of people in the stands. As Frieri threw his final pitch to Coco Crisp not a single person around me left their seats. There were pockets of fans scattered throughout the stadium on their feet, but the overwhelming majority of people in the stands sat with their hands firmly planted at their sides. There was a small round of applause as Crisp flew out to right field to end the game, but the loudest this stadium got was for the fireworks show after the game.
I understand that this team has underperformed this season. They spent a lot of money bringing in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in the past two off seasons. The season is far from over and there is no excuse for a packed house to be as quiet as these fans were tonight. This was a divisional matchup against the first place team and your team won the game decisively. Wake up Los Angeles, or rather Anaheim. Your team needs you to cheer them on. There is a lot of baseball left this year and they are not out of it yet.
In my post about the Coliseum in Oakland I gave the fans of that city a tremendous amount of credit for willing their team to win. They have a team of castoffs and below average players that rise above their talent levels and win every year. It is not about sabremetrics, it is about playing in a winning atmosphere. I am not saying that a team full of All-Stars like the Angels needs the crowd to win, but not having the crowd does not help. There is an energy to a raucous crowd that can elevate a team's play and the fans here in Anaheim are not doing their part to help their team win.
Tonight was a beautiful night for a ballgame. This stadium is truly beautiful and the home team put up a tremendous effort. Sadly, the crowd let me down this time. Hopefully this is not indicative of the SoCal fan base, but I will have to wait and see about that because before I head to Dodgers Stadium I have to make a quick 34-hour round trip drive to Seattle to catch a Mariners game. My week and a half of driving misery begins now.
Next up: Safeco Field
Game Time Temp: 73
First Pitch Time: 7:05 PM
National Anthem: Lindsay Ridgeway
Seventh Inning Stretch: Build Me Up Buttercup
Total Pitches Thrown: 294
Total Hits: 15
Total Singles: 8
Total Doubles: 4
Total Triples: 0
Total Home Runs: 3
Total Walks: 6
Total Strike Outs: 18
Total Errors: 2
Game Time: 2:58
Attendance: 43,515 (95.7% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Tom Hallion
Miles Traveled: 70 miles
Time in Car: 3 hours
Sleep Time: 6 Hours 45 minutes
Bottles of Water: 5
Food Eaten: Shrimp melt from Griddle Cafe, peaches
Ballpark Food: Trio of tacos, Ice Cream helmet,
Scoreboard Cap Game: Under Uhaul #2
Money spent on parking: $10
Money spent on ticket: $89.45
Cost of Program: $3
Money spent on food: $14.00
Total money spent on Merchandise: $14.00
Total Money spent at stadium: $127.45
Total Money spent today $153.40