JD’s Ballpark Tour, Fifteenth Inning (Anaheim, CA)

The MLB season was winding down, and after that disappointing Texas trip with some last place teams, I was ready to watch some meaningful baseball again. Now that I was back in southern California, I knew I had to make my return trip to Anaheim and arrive back to a “home ballpark” for me. In mid-September, the Angels were in first place in the AL West, and still owned the best record in baseball thanks to the MVP efforts of Mike Trout. Since I was still recovering from an injury and wasn’t dancing for a while, my weekends opened up now. I thought to myself, “Why not check out a great team, for a change?”

Ballpark 12: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, elevation 150 feet

The game: Astros @ Angels on September 13, 2014

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Getting to this ballpark is really a piece of cake as there are multiple entrances to the parking areas, and they do allow tailgating in some areas. Parking is ten bucks, but that isn’t bad at all. Since this is a home ballpark for me, I knew exactly where to park and how early I should get there. I choose to park away from the main roads that way there aren’t any cars blocking the now-opened exits. Oh, I should also mention that it was my birthday weekend. Before going to the Angels game, I went to Disneyland to get my birthday button and celebrate my Disney birthday. Since I had the pin on, I was directed to customer services and was given a special “Happy Birthday” card. That’s so nice of them!

Making your way through the concourse, you will find a whole display for the 2002 World Series, which is their one and only championship. Going around the concourse, you are led to the field levels where autographs can be sought after… or catch some balls during BP. Because this is a more open ballpark than most, the layout is exceptional for those looking to do multiple things before the game.

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Ticket prices: One of my favorite seats in this stadium is located in the left field view level since those tickets usually go for a cheap price on StubHub. In this case, I got a great view seat for only $12 slightly to the left of home plate. Unless it’s a very meaningful game, your best bet is to search StubHub for tickets. The vast layout of the ballpark means tickets are plentiful in almost every area. Also, there really isn’t a bad seat in the stadium. The sight lines are fantastic, and if you are sitting in the left field view seats, you can see the “Big A” peeking above the right field seats.

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The food: It’s southern California, and it’s September. That can only mean one thing… hot weather during the day, and mild temperatures at night. Yes, I had my normal hot dog there, but it was too hot to not get a giant ice cream sundae in a bigger-than-normal plastic cap. For less than ten bucks, you get a massive amount of ice cream that will take half the game to finish. But, it’s that delicious!

The fans: This is where Angel Stadium gets huge deductions every year. It’s no secret that Dodger fans arrive late to games and leave early. Angel fans aren’t that bad as far as attendance goes. The big problem is their enthusiasm, or lack thereof. The laid-back attitude of Orange County fans reminds me too much of the games in Texas. Plus, having been to several East Coast ballparks, I now understand why Angel fans are looked down on so much more than Dodger fans.

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A further back story from a few years ago has me sitting in the right field club level watching an excellent game. I forget who was pitching that day, but I was witnessing a masterful pitching performance. Anaheim’s pitcher was cruising along scattering a few hits, but still getting effective outs. After throwing eight shutout innings, I stood up and applauded loudly because going eight shutout innings is a great feat for anyone. I was the only one in my section who stood up, and I didn’t hear a loud roar of the crowd for that one. I was disappointed, and a little miffed at the fans. When your HOME pitcher puts on a performance like that, you’d better damn well give him a deserving standing ovation. At least in recent years, home crowds have been more enthusiastic in that kind of situation.DSC07243

The game: The crowd got into this game a bit and have been somewhat better this season. The addition of Mike Trout will do that. Plus, I wanted to watch Jered Weaver pitch as he was carrying the pitching load of the staff. At the time, he was also thinking about a Cy Young Award. In the top of the 1st, he got off to an amazing start. How good? He threw ALL strikes. Not quite an immaculate inning as there were a couple foul balls, but still incredible. In fact, he threw his first 15 pitches for strikes.

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I should say this now, and this is not a biased opinion: Mike Trout is worth the price of admission. In the bottom of the 1st, he connected on a 3-2 pitch that went way over the wall to give the Angels an early 1-0 lead. However, the Astros got even on a Robbie Grossman single in the top of the 3rd. That was the only run Jered Weaver would allow.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Mike Trout was leading off and looking confident in the batter’s box. He connected on the third pitch he saw, and this was absolutely crushed. A no-doubter to deep center field put the Angels up for good. Like I said, Mike Trout is worth the price of admission. This was very true on this game as he already went 2-for-2 with two solo home runs. He got the Angel crowd incredibly pumped up, and for good reason! In the 5th inning, he sent a line drive to the gap and got a double out of it. For the record, Trout was intentionally walked and later scored in the 7th inning, and was left on-deck in the 8th. Mike Trout went 3-for-3 scoring three times with 2 homers and a double. Yeah, he gave the fans their money’s worth.

Meanwhile, Jered Weaver was dealing some serious heat. He was racking up strikeouts left and right and already notched ten K’s through six innings. Weaver’s 12th strikeout came in the 7th inning when he made Singleton swing on a 1-2 slider… that swing looked pretty terrible! At this point, the fans appreciate the masterful performance and gave Jered a rousing ovation! That was a well-deserved standing ovation, and Weaver really put his name out there to make a case for the AL Cy Young Award.

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After the Angels tacked on three more runs thanks to Mike Trout intentionally walking, it was all over. The Astros could only muster one more run off the bullpen, but it wasn’t enough. The Angels won, 5-2. Fireworks were going off, and the fans were going nuts. As the saying goes, “Light that baby up!” That saying comes from the “Big A” being lit up every time the Angels win a game, but now it actually says, “ANGELS WIN.” This is done that way fans driving along the 57 freeway (or I-5 from a distance) can know how their team did on any given night during the baseball season.

Going to an Angels game is worth it, especially if you have an ace pitcher like Jered Weaver, and the American League MVP in Mike Trout. The crowds here have gotten better than in years past, but still have a bit too much “California Cool” for my taste. Not to say the crowds are bad, they’re just not the passionate baseball fans I’ve encountered during my travels. But, they were very loud and appreciative on this night… it helps that Mike Trout is hitting the long ball, and chicks dig the long ball… thanks for reading, everyone!

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-JD

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