Los Angeles: Following the Phillies Part II

After seeing the Phillies wrap-up their series in San Diego on Wednesday I traveled north to Los Angeles on Thursday to see them open a series with the Dodgers. Dodger Stadium is the third oldest ballpark in MLB. I saw the two oldest (Fenway Park and Wrigley Field) last summer, so I was excited to add Dodger Stadium to the list.

I arrived in Los Angeles in the early afternoon and parked by the Los Angeles Police Academy near the ballpark. From there it was a short walk to the Chavez Ravine Arboretum, the oldest arboretum in southern California. It was founded in 1893. I wandered through the arboretum for a few hours. The sun was intense.

A large Tipuana tipu in the Chavez Ravine Arboretum.

A large Tipuana tipu (tipu tree) in the Chavez Ravine Arboretum.

When I walked back to my car I passed one of the closed stadium parking lot gates. I climbed up one of the light poles to take a picture of the lot and the stadium from above the gate (you can see the very top of the fence in the lower right foreground).

Dodger Stadium across the sea of asphalt.

Dodger Stadium across the sea of asphalt.

I wandered down to the Police Academy and talked to a security guard there for a while. He told me which streets I could park on in the neighborhoods by the stadium and safely walk back to my car wearing a Phillies jersey after the game. He also told me that his major life regret was not studying botany. We talked plants.

By this time the gates were about to open, so I walked back to the stadium parking lot gate. I was the only Phillies fan. There were many Dodgers fans. The experience reminded me of attending Temple vs. Penn State games at Beaver Stadium. I saw two baseball fans decked out in UCLA gear, discussing the abomination of in-stadium advertising and decrying the volume of ballpark music. I had to join their conversation. It turns out they were covert Giants fans, but they loved baseball enough to go to games anywhere. It also helped that the National Champion UCLA baseball team was being honored before the game. We talked until the gates opened and then during the trek across the parking lot.

The ticket booths at Dodger Stadium are set apart from the main stadium, like a little row of huts. I purchased a ticket for the Lodge Level, section 168, row O, seat 7. It was Sandy Koufax bobblehead night. I sold my bobblehead inside the stadium because I didn’t want to carry it around with me all night. I used the proceeds to buy a Dodger Dog and a beverage. Batting practice was underway when I saw the field for the first time.

Dodger Stadium in the sunlight.

Dodger Stadium in the sunlight.

Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee, and Wally Joyner watch Ryan Howard take batting practice.

Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee watch Ryan Howard take batting practice while Wally Joyner stands nearby.

I was surprised by the low ceiling in the lodge level concourse. The stadium is huge for baseball (seating 56,000), but it feels small in the concourse.

The lodge level concourse.

The lodge level concourse.

View of the field from a seat near the concourse.

View of the field from a seat near the concourse.

Visiting Dodger Stadium and failing to get a Dodger Dog would have been unthinkable. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that they were available grilled or steamed at different stands. The stand I visited had the steamed version–but I would have tried both had I been aware of the possibility. The hot dog was good, though my preference when eating a hot dog is for the bun and the dog to be of equal length (Dodger Dogs are 10″ long, while the bun is ~6″ long).

A Dodger Dog stand.

A Dodger Dog stand.

My seat was one of the worst seats I’ve ever had at a ballpark. I asked the ticket seller for a good view–I think she just threw a dart at the seating diagram. The sun was vicious for the first few innings. But that wasn’t the worst of it. . .

The sun was bright.

The sun was bright.

The real problem with the seat was that the foul pole obstructed my view of home plate. By the end of the game my eyes and head hurt from having two focus fields competing for three hours.

My view of the foul pole (and the game behind it).

My view of the foul pole (and the game behind it).

I noticed that Dodger fans lived up to the main stereotypes I have heard. Fans were arriving during the 7th inning. Fans started leaving during the 8th inning (during a one run game). Movie stars were in attendance (hey, Fred Willard!). Valley girls, lots and lots of valley girls.

The announced attendance was 51,037. That is the largest crowd I’ve ever been part of at a baseball game. I suspect the actual maximum number of people in the seats at one time was close to 45,000 due to late arrivals and early exits.

The Dodgers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the 1st inning. The Phillies fought back to tie the game in the 5th. In the 7th they took the lead, then turned to the bullpen to hold it. So far this season that has not gone well. Sure enough, the bullpen surrendered the lead and the game. Yasiel Puig added to his legend by hitting a single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th to knock in the tying and winning runs. The fans cheered everything Puig did all night (and I don’t blame them).

Yasiel Puig in right field.

Yasiel Puig in right field.

Things got a bit rowdy as the night progressed. Several fans were escorted out of the stands by security guards. I did not see any physical altercations between Dodger and Phillies fans.

The ballpark during the late innings.

Dodger Stadium on a summer night.

The final score was 6-4. I got to see Domonic Brown and Chase Utley hit home runs. I saw Yasiel Puig make some laser beam throws and deliver a game winning hit. I saw Delmon Young go 4 for 4 (he got a hit the previous night in his final at bat, so I saw him go 5 for 5 over the two night stretch–he would start the following game 2 for 2, giving him 7 consecutive hits).

My drive from the stadium back to San Luis Obispo was my best LA driving experience so far. The late night trip was smooth with few brake lights. I got home at 2am.

It was fun to follow the Phillies on the West Coast.

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