Four Ballparks Recap Part II – Dodgertown. Population: Towel | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Four Ballparks Recap Part II – Dodgertown. Population: Towel

After a thrilling Rockies win at Petco Park in Game One of our four-day, four-city, four-game road trip, it was time to visit Dodger Stadium. Following dad’s aforementioned seven-dollar breakfast of bread and coffee at the Toscano Café, only a quick two-hour trip north on I-5 separated us from Ballpark #2.  Since we were traveling on a Sunday, traffic was almost a non-issue on the way up to our hotel in Anaheim, and we even had time to stop at the OC Sports Bar and Grill for burgers and the first few innings of Rockies vs. Padres on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain before it was time to head over to the ballgame.

Open since 1962, Dodger Stadium is by far the oldest of the four ballparks we visited and is in fact the third-oldest park in all of Major League Baseball, the two oldest of course being Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.  Dodger Stadium has plenty of history, having hosted eight different World Series, three World Baseball Classic games, and ten no-hitters.  And of course, it is home to the greatest broadcaster of all time in Vin Scully, the true face of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise.

We arrived at the ballpark more than two hours before game time and as a result had to wait in our cars for the gates to open for parking.  We certainly weren’t the only ones—by the time the gates came close to opening, cars were backed up behind us as far as the eye could see.  After careful deliberation and much discussion, I passed on the offer of counterfeit Dodgers hats from the street vendors outside the stadium grounds in favor of my trusty Curly-W Washington Nationals cap, and we headed into the parking lot a few minutes later.

Unlike the area around Petco Park, there is absolutely nothing to do around Dodger Stadium.  The ballpark is located seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with no hotels, restaurants, or means of public transportation anywhere nearby.  While this no doubt hindered our ballpark experience, it did give us an opportunity to sit in the car for an hour before game time listening to the Rockies finish off a critical sweep of the Padres.

It is worth mentioning that during this time, a police officer walked by the car and informed us that there was no alcohol permitted on stadium grounds.  When dad said he was only drinking coffee, the understandably-skeptical officer asked to see the contents of his cup which, sure enough, contained only the last few ice-cold drops of the three-dollar brew purchased earlier in the day.  Shaking his head in disbelief that the two of us were not getting hammered together before the game, the surprised patrolman could be heard shouting “Hey!  This guy said he was drinking coffee and he was actually drinking coffee!” as he pedaled away.

Walking up to the ballpark trying to find our gate, we were instantly energized by a recording of Vin Scully proclaiming, as only he can, that “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”  Scully’s soothing, measured voice permeated the atmosphere in and around the ballpark and the iconic voice of the Dodgers really helped to make Dodger Stadium a true baseball environment rather than simply a sports environment, as was the case at Petco Park.  As we settled into our seats, we immediately noticed that the reputation of Dodger fans as a late-arriving crowd was absolutely warranted—the stadium was practically half-empty at first pitch, even on a Sunday of a long weekend.  Those fans who deigned to show up at the ballpark early were treated to a spirited introduction to the stadium, which included many Hollywood stars (including Dos Equis’s “Most Interesting Man in the World”, who is actually a New Yorker) declaring that “This is my town.”

After conversing with a local Dodger fan a couple of seats down from us, we learned that the fans arrive late and leave early less because of the traffic and more because they are simply a laid-back crowd.  Dodger fans come to see their team win, rather than to take in nine innings of baseball.  Fans often leave in the eighth inning typically not to beat the traffic, which is a popular misconception, but because they have no interest in seeing the end of a Dodger loss.  As a Rockies fan, this is a foreign concept to me.  While the Rockies fan base is not particularly large or particularly die-hard, most fans remain in their seats at Coors Field until the last out is recorded, even if the Rockies are down by three or four runs.

In the defense of the Dodger fans at this particular game, however, the home team did not give them much to cheer about.  After blowing a four-run lead in the eighth in the game before, the Dodgers appeared to have quit from the first pitch.  Against Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez, the men in blue managed just three hits in the game, giving up runs on a second-inning sacrifice fly and a two-run bomb by Juan Uribe to seal things in the seventh.  Neither the lifeless crowd nor the lifeless home team made much noise at any point in the game, and I have heard much louder even in an almost-empty Nationals Park with the team on its way to another season of at least 90 losses.

As an integral part of my Dodger Stadium experience, I also felt morally compelled to consume a Dodger Dog.  I had heard much about these fabled frankfurters and was advised by multiple colleagues that I could not leave the ballpark without trying one.  So in the seventh inning, I walked up the stairs to the concession stand (in the process being enthusiastically mocked by a Dodger fan for proudly wearing my Washington Nationals hat and jersey), handed over my five bucks, and in return received a Dodger Dog, which I promptly ate in two minutes before returning to my seat.  The following paragraph will serve as my review of this famous delicacy.

It was a hot dog.

Dodger Stadium is old and quite frankly shows every day of its age.  There is nothing to do around the ballpark, and it took us a half-hour just to leave the parking lot after the game had ended.  The ever-present Vin Scully certainly adds to the experience, but Dodger Stadium ranked as the worst of the ten ballparks I have visited, although it is certainly a better baseball facility than the now-demolished Mile High Stadium, home of the Rockies in 1993 and 1994 but really a football stadium and not a ballpark.

Although the quality of Dodger Stadium does not compare favorably to the other more modern parks I’ve visited (and given its age, it is really an unfair comparison), it is certainly one that I am proud to check off my list.  After the quick trip south back to our hotel, a few minutes of Baseball Tonight and a nighty-night pack of Skittles, it was time to look ahead to our next destination: Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

Check back soon for part three of this four-part series.

1 Comment

  1. Braf says:

    Scully always brings the audible chocolate. Just like towel.