Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dodger Stadium

When I was a kid I hated the Dodgers. Steve Sax, Pedro Guerrero, Mariano Duncan... I didn't like any of them. The Angels were always my team, not counting my bizarre fascination with the Blue Jays (back when they were terrible.)

But when I got to be a teenager and wanted to go to games, I didn't really have the time or the means to go down to Anaheim for games. So I started going to Dodger games with my friends, and I actually started to like the team. Mike Piazza, Eric Karros, Raul Mondesi, Chan Ho Park... I liked those guys. Of course, those players are all gone (Chan Ho is back on the team after many years away) and Dodger Stadium isn't quite the place it used to be.

The summer after I graduated high school my friends and I went to games three or four times a week when the team was in town. We got decent seats for $8, parking was $5, and with a hot dog or two (never anything to drink, although we would sometimes drink beer in the parking lot until the security chased us off) you could have a great night at the stadium for under 20 bucks. And it's not like I'm talking about 50 years ago; I'm talking about 12 years ago. Now those same seats are $31 and parking is $15. I know that's the way of professional sports and somebody has to come up with the money to pay Andruw Jones 18 millions dollars to hit .158 this year, but it's too bad that some 18 year olds just won't be able to have the same experiences this summer that I did when I was their age.

So with the way I feel about Dodger Stadium, combined with the fact that I can more easily make it down to Anaheim to see the Angels these days, I hardly ever make it to Chavez Ravine anymore. (In the last 6 years, actually, I've only been once: 3 years ago on my birthday with ten friends for a Sunday afternoon game against the Giants, perhaps the best birthday I have ever had.)

But a friend of mine got tickets to a game against the Padres so I figured I'd go. I have to admit, even with Dodger Stadium not being as great as I remember it (is anything?), it is still one of my favorite places in L.A. Our seats were fantastic, my Dodger dog was good, and I even enjoyed my Heineken. (Is it weird that I didn't even blink about paying $8 for a plastic cup of Heineken? I mean, it's better than the time I paid $11 for a can of Miller Lite at Yankee Stadium, right?)

And the one thing the Angels don't have is the incomparable Vin Scully. Like the smell of fresh cut grass or the first taste of water out of a garden hose that has been lying in the sun, Vin's voice reminds me of summer. The greatest thing about interleague play isn't the opportunity for me to see National League teams, or watch the Angels pitchers bat. It's when the Dodgers play the Angels and I get to hear Vin call a couple Angels games.
So even with the hundreds of advertisements all over the stadium, the lack of Cool-A-Coos (remember those?,) or the fact that the Dodgers aren't even my favorite team, I still can't think of a better place to spend a summer evening in Los Angeles.

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