"THINK BLUE" may be last year's Dodger slogan, but making a Hollywood-style sign on the hills of Elysian Park with this year's slogan "This is LA Baseball" (an obvious retort to the challenge of the Angels, although they deny it) would have been too cumbersome, so the "THINK BLUE" sign still greets you as you pull into the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Luckily this wasn't a problem for me, as I was already wearing my blue baseball hat and thinking about a win for the blue team. Of course, I was walking in thinking Cubbie Blue.
Since Al wants a report on the west coast games from his west coast readers, I thought I'd try to give the report in as close to Al's style as I can do--since I read BCB as much to read of the exploits of the faithful as the exploits of the Cubs, I'll try to explain my experience more than the game--which most of you watched on TV anyway.
First of all, if you haven't been to Dodger Stadium, well, don't kick yourself. It's not a bad place to watch a ballgame and the place certainly has a lot of history, but, like most things in Los Angeles, the place is overrated. I'm sure when it opened in 1962 it was a magnificent place, but I've often compared her to Elizabeth Taylor--an incredible beauty when she was young, but she hasn't aged all that well but if you look real close, you can still she what people saw in her when she was young. That's kind of unfair to Dodger Stadium because it hasn't let itself quite go to pot like Ms. Taylor did, but you get the point. The seats are often falling apart and are uncomfortable even if they are in perfect condition, the whole place needs a new coat of paint and the whole place is understaffed (more on that later.) Often in the past when I've gone it hasn't been very clean either, but I have to say that it was pretty clean today. Even the restrooms, which I've shuddered to enter in the past sometimes, were clean and operational, at least the one I used. This hasn't always been the case in past trips there.
I'll save the reasons for another diary another time, but if you want to experience Dodger tradition and see spectacular views, go to Dodger Stadium. If you actually want to watch a ballgame in cleanliness and comfort and with a good view of the game, go to Anaheim. I know people say that about Wrigley and the Ball Mall, but in this case it's true. (Although I've never actually been to the Ball Mall, so I can't really comment on that.) There are those who have argued that Dodger Stadium should be torn down and replaced with a downtown LA stadium, mostly developers who see billions in luxury houses built on that location. Those people are insane (or just greedy). Dodger Stadium is in a great location and has a tradition trailing only Wrigley, Fenway and Yankee Stadium. What Dodger Stadium needs is a major remodeling, much like Angel Stadium got a decade ago. Oh, and more staff.
Since I don't have a cadre of friends to hang out at ballgames with, I went with my best friend in the world, my lovely wife Molly. We didn't realize this until after we left the game, but Molly has never seen the Cubs lose in person. She's 4-0. She saw them beat the Marlins at Wrigley, the Padres at Qualcomm, the Angels in Anaheim and after today, the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine. If Cub fans would like to persuade their Chicago-area school district to hire her (good schools only) and provide her free season tickets to Wrigley, she is willing to listen to offers.
I did enter Dodger Stadium with some trepidation. Dodger Stadium is developing a reputation lately for being a dangerous place for fans of the opposing team. In 2003 a Giants fan was shot and killed in the parking lot and just last weekend, apparently, an Angel fan was beaten senseless while onlookers chanted "Angels Suck!" (By the way, every mention of the Angels at the game was met with a boo. This has never happened in years past.) There have been many other more minor incidents reported as well of harassment of fans of the opposing team. In all cases, it has been alleged that security was nowhere to be found. I personally experienced none of this, except for the "security is no where to be found" part. I never saw another security guard after I entered the park. In fact, I never even saw an usher, which I could have used because I'd never sat in the part of the stadium I was in before: upper-deck, half-way between home and third, and I wasn't sure I was in the right place. And I've long since given up trying to buy any food at Dodger Stadium, because previous experiences have taught me to expect to miss at least an inning waiting in line.
One incident that really disturbed me however wasn't directed at me. As you may have seen watching the game, in the sixth inning some fan managed to get onto the field and tried to plant a flag of some sort in center field. This has become a common occurrence at Dodger games, apparently. While this is disturbing enough, what really bothered me was the reaction of the Dodger fans around me. They laughed and applauded the idiot and booed when security finally managed to catch him. And I was sitting in a section with lots of families with small children. There are those who claim that a dangerous mob mentality is taking hold in Dodger Stadium lately and from what I saw, I couldn't disagree with them.
No one was personally rude to me, however, and our section was probably about one-quarter to one-third Cub fans and one really loud (and probably lost) Nationals fan who kept comparing Dodger Stadium to RFK and Baltimore Memorial Stadium. (This in sharp contrast to the Angels/White Sox game in Anaheim I attended last week--I counted about ten Sox fans in the whole left field bleachers there.) In fact, the only people who even acknowledged my presence were other Cub fans, except for one Dodger fan who shouted "Take that!" at me on JD Drew's diving catch on Burnitz in the first. The four seats in front of me and the one to my left were also unoccupied, so that gave me a lot more room to spread out at a ballgame than normal, so that was actually quite nice and gave me a buffer from the Dodger fans.
The Dodger fans were a little upset at all the Cub fans though. When Barrett hit his HR, a loud cheer went up in our section which caused one fan to shout "I thought this was Dodger Stadium?" Man, you've never been to a Cub game at Qualcomm if you thought this was a lot of Cub fans. Those were Cub home games. This wasn't even close to that. But when Ramirez hit his HR, even the Dodger fans next to me had to say "Wow!"
Just for those who keep track of these things, the first beach ball appeared in the third inning and continued throughout the game. Beach balls are the bane of SoCal baseball and they're unfortunately in Anaheim too. I really can't understand paying 20 dollars to play with a beach ball when you can go to the park next door and play for free. And the wave started in the sixth.
The real climax of the game was Werth's AB in the 8th. We were all screaming at Dusty for leaving Wellemeyer in a second inning. The Dodger fans got real loud after Wellemeyer walked the first two batters, much louder than I can remember them in games past. The noise the Cub fans made undoubtedly pushed them to make more noise of their own. But sometime in that AB, Wellemeyer seemed to find himself, although Werth kept fouling off pitch after pitch before he finally hit into a double play. I shouted to my wife "6 . . .4. . .3!" After that, the Dodger fans mostly went home, and the section was left to us Cub fans, who all stood as Dempster got the final out (after that HR to Saenz). Then Molly and I high-fived all the Cub fans on our way out as we raced to the car to beat traffic, which we did and we made it home in a little over an hour.
Well, this is a lot longer than I expected it to be, but since this is likely to be the only Cub game I attend this season, well, you won't have to put up with it again until next season at the earliest. I actually really could have added a lot more. But today's game left me more optimistic about this club than I have been since opening day.