JD’s Ballpark Tour, First Inning (Los Angeles)

Part I: Dodger Stadium

   Folks, I’m not going to beat around the bush, the Dodgers are my favorite team in the major leagues, and always have been. I couldn’t think of a better place to start my tour than my second home for over twenty years. I’ve been going to games there since I was six, and have seen many fantastic games and have attended some historic events there. One of my first baseball memories is getting to see Fernando Valenzuela pitch at the Ravine, and a very major memory for me took place in 1991 when the Montreal Expos’ Denny Martinez pitched a perfect game against my home team. I will honestly say that was the only time I openly rooted against the Dodgers at my home stadium because I wanted to see the perfect game happen. Needless to say, I have a love for this old stadium, but I will try to be as un-biased as possible for this particular trip.

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Me in front of the 395-foot marker in CF six years ago…

 

Ballpark 1: Dodger Stadium, elevation 502 feet.

The game: Padres @ Dodgers on July 13, 2014.

   Here is what you should know about Chavez Ravine, it was built in the early 1960’s on top of a hill in the Elysian Park area. The area around the ballpark is very hilly, and there are tiered parking lots around the perimeter of the stadium. Unless you have preferred parking, expect to walk a bit! Since I prefer to spend my money on food and talk to you guys about it, I decided to go the inexpensive route and park outside at Stadium Way. Keep in mind, this is street parking and this parking comes at a “first come, first serve” basis, so arrive early if you want to save fifteen dollars. Believe me, with the raised food prices, you’re going to want to think about this option. Since I’m a long-distance runner, I don’t mind the long walk, but it is about a ¾ mile walk on average, depending on where you’re sitting. This is usually the way to go for me, and you do get some great pictures of the entrance into Dodger Stadium. Of course, making this trek is much more difficult on a badly sprained ankle…

   Arriving at Chavez Ravine was a breeze, and I wanted to arrive early not just for the free parking, but also for the awesome giveaway, which was a Dodgers portable speaker. It has already been put to good use. This is one plus about the Dodgers, especially under new ownership, the giveaways have been really good. Earlier in the season, I got a replica Don Newcombe #53 Brooklyn Dodgers jersey as the free giveaway, so you can see that the quality of giveaways are quite excellent.

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The new HD DodgerVision jumbotrons!

   As I arrived, the first thing I did was snag a couple Dodger Dogs and make my way to my seat… which was still in sunlight. Fortunately, these are Dodger fans coming to the games, so I was able to move to shade easily, but more on the fans later. As I mentioned before, the food prices have risen this season, but there is also more variety. The main sell for everybody is the world-famous Dodger Dog, now $5.50! Even worse, the Super Dodger Dog is now over $7 (That used to be $5.50). Now there are Mexican “Doyer Dogs” sold that includes Pico de Gallo on it, burgers, garlic fries, Italian “Brooklyn style” pizza, and even the locally-famous Cool-A-Coo ice cream sandwiches, which are excellent, if you ask me.

Ticket prices: While regular ticket prices for the Los Angeles Dodgers are not too shabby, this is definitely a place where the secondary market consistently has incredible deals on tickets, and this is mainly due to the fact that there are a plethora of season ticket holders that end up selling their tickets at a decent price. For this particular game, ticket prices were well below face value. My ticket was a lower-row seat in Inner Reserve, section 19, for only $8.49 after the awesome Wendy’s discount. Yep, I got a good seat for under ten bucks! But for most Dodgers games that don’t have an extremely popular giveaway, ticket prices on StubHub are beyond cheap, so your best bet is to look there for most games. For parking (or lack thereof) and the ticket, I only spent $8.49. With the two Dodger Dogs and a drink, I only spent about $25 for the whole game!

The fans: The stereotype is true that fans typically “arrive in the 3rd inning, and leave in the 7th inning.” However, because my seat was drenched in sunlight and many of the seats above me had not arrived yet, I quickly moved up to the last row of that section and kept fairly cool in the shade. Still, it is a sad fact that fans don’t show up early, and that gives Dodger fans a bad rap. I don’t think this has to do with a lack of support, and it didn’t sound like a lack of support based on what the people below me said. Apparently, there was some particularly nasty traffic on the I-5 freeway, a route I never take (nor would I recommend taking). This family had to deal with a couple bad accidents on their way to the Stadium, but that is something that could be easily avoided by taking better routes, or just simply avoid the same route everyone else goes. Better yet, your best bet is to ARRIVE EARLY.

The game: Because of the blazing sun, I moved up to the empty top rows for the first four innings of the game (since they went so quickly), and then moved down to my original seat for the rest of the game. The Dodgers had a couple base-runners in the 2nd inning, but weren’t able to cash in a run. Ryu actually pitched a very solid game for the Dodgers only allowing two hits over six innings.

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 All of his pitches were working, although he did make 20 pitches in the top of the 6th. The game was moving very quickly until the bottom of the 6th when All-Star Yasiel Puig scored fellow All-Star Dee Gordon on a solid RBI single. That was the only run scored of the game. The game came to a crawl when Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly decided to pull Ryu after six innings, and it nearly cost them the game. But, aside from that, this was a fairly routine win for the Dodgers who were in first place in the NL West at the All-Star break!

This ended up being a very fun game, and if you plan it right, you can attend a Dodgers game at an affordable price, if you do a slight bit of research on StubHub beforehand, and if you’re willing to walk and save fifteen bucks. Of course, this is one of my favorite stadiums, and I don’t know if it’s the relatively cheap prices, or the beautiful hike up the entrance, the recorded voice of the legendary Vin Scully greeting you at the entrance, or the Dodger Dogs, but there are few ballparks better than this one, and that’s a main reason why this ballpark is consistenly rated highly amongst players and fans alike. While there are many food options, not much can beat a good old-fashioned Dodger Dog. Just don’t forget the condiments…

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It’s time to enjoy an East Coast thunderstorm as I continue writing. Next stop, San Diego. The next post will come tomorrow, Sunday evening!

-JD

Postseason Anticipation

“If summer is for the boys, then fall is definitely for the men.” ~Steve Garvey

It’s now that time of year. With the regular season over, it is now time to focus on that wonderful month of October where eight teams vie for their ultimate goal, the championship trophy. While the Cubs possess the best record in the National League to give them home-field advantage, and they are hugely favored to win the series, I don’t think the Cubs can overcome their century-long curse in a five-game series. Even with Brad Penny out of the lineup, Los Angeles still has a solid one-two punch with Lowe and the surprising Chad Billingsley. Earlier this season, Billingsley had a quality start going six frames and only giving up two earned runs. However, the Dodgers ended up losing that game by a score of 3-1.

But that was all in the past. The Cubbies have not faced the Dodgers this season with Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, or Angel Berroa. Those three players have made such a phenomenal impact on the Dodgers that I don’t think any National League team can stop them right now. But, that’s why they play the game.

As for the other National League Division series, I have the Phillies actually winning this one in five games. C.C. Sabathia can only pitch twice this series, and those will be the two wins in the series for the Brewers. Without the seemingly unstoppable Sabathia pitching for the Brewers, they may not win another game, and therefore it will go five games. That’s my take on that series. Which means I think it will be the Dodgers and the Phillies in the NLCS. Yeah, I can’t even begin to predict what a series that would be. Of course, I could actually be very wrong on my predictions, but I hope not. =)

I’m going to leave this blog shorter than all the others, but I will end with this final word. If you guys remember my post from last week about the Tuesday game versus the San Diego Padres, you’ll know how much of a blast I had with my friend, Paul. Here is a video of why we love Dodger Stadium.

 

With that,

I bid you all adieu and let’s root our Dodgers on all the way to the end!

Think Blue!
JD