Game 3: LA Dodgers
So to Dodgers Stadium for the Los Angeles Dodgers home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. As we are still staying at David and Laura’s in Norco it proved to be a bit of a mission to get to the stadium. David drove us to Norco station where we took a one hour train ride to Los Angeles Central station. From here we wanted to get a bus to the stadium. There were buses direct to the stadium, but they were advertised to be only departing from one and a half hours before the game. The game was scheduled to begin at 1:05pm and we were at the station at 8:30 am. We wanted to get to the stadium a bit earlier to soak up the atmosphere and to avoid any panic by being late for the game. At the station no one had any real idea of how we could get a bus to the game. There was one guy, who though very polite, appeared to be employed with customer service in mind and could not help us at all. We asked a friendly lady who gave us some vague instructions about catching the number two bus from Broadway. Eventually we wondered around and stumbled upon a number two bus which took us to the ballpark.
All the reviews which I had read about the park were that it is majestic and stately. Indeed it is often referred to as the “Taj Mahal of Baseball”. There is plenty of parking and the stadium has almost park like features with numerous trees around the area. The Dodgers actually employ seven full time gardeners just to take care of the flowers, trees and lawns on the grounds outside the stadium. Maybe our own experiences biased my views. After being totally impressed with the facilities and friendliness of San Diego and Anaheim, here Dodger Stadium appeared to be an unsmiling giant. The public transport was fine – but nobody bothered to help visitors nor were there maps or trains on buses – so it was almost impossible to use.
Because of the near fatality on opening day 2011 the police presence was almost overbearing, with cops on foot, horseback and bicycles everywhere (and unknown to me hundreds more undercover amongst the crowd). Last year Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan, was beaten and almost killed in the stadium car park. The 43 year old suffered brain damage when two men jumped him and his friends in the parking lot after the game. Stow, who is a father of two has shown progress since undergoing surgeries and intensive rehabilitation but continues to struggle with simple tasks. After lengthy investigation the police arrested two Dodgers fans last year.
The queues to buy beer were ridiculous. By the fourth innings if you joined the queue you would still not have a beer by the seventh innings – and they were $12.50 per can ($150 per dozen). Likewise queues at toilets were of similar length. There were no tee shirt give aways and the cheapest caps cost $22. In my presumption that I would get a $7 cap I neglected to bring one and therefore got sunburnt. The Dodgers front office did not even answer my request for tickets, and the ones were bought were really expensive for nose bleed seats. All this equated to a less than memorable experience.
This though was the Dodgers opening home game of 2012, and also celebrated the clubs 50 years at Dodger Stadium after the move from Brooklyn, so the crowd was generally in good spirits. I would have to say though that the stadium looked all its 50 years old. The teams former owner Peter O’Malley, accompanied his sister to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch. Their mother and wife of the hated former owner Walter O’Malley, Kay O’Malley threw the first pitch when the stadium opened in 1962. In a highlight to me the Beach Boys, Southern California natives who also begun in 1962, sang the national anthem. It was reported that it was a sell-out crowd, but I would suggest that there were about 10% of the seats vacant.
Pittsburgh Pirates……….000 000 100 – 1
Los Angeles Dodgers.….100 000 01x - 2
The Dodgers went into this game with a three win and one loss record, while the Pirates were two and one. The crowd was announced at 56,000, but I doubt it. After keeping the Pirates scoreless at the top of the first, the Dodgers in their first at bat scored a run. Leadoff hitter and shortstop Dee Gordon walloped a line drive to get on first base. He then stole second and MarK Ellis moved him to third, though getting out himself. Matt Kemp then hit a grounder to shortstop which bought Gordon in for the run.
Enter pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who had pitched only three innings in the season opener at San Diego because of stomach flu was able to protect that single run right through to the seventh innings. He started that innings by giving up consecutive singles to Alex Presley and Andrew McCutchen. The runners then advanced on a long fly ball and Presley came home on a groundout by Matt Hague to tie the score at one all.
Pirates’ relief pitcher Jason Grilli then struck out Ellis and Kemp in the eighth innings. Then up stepped birthday boy and number four (clean up) batter, right fielder Andre Ethier who deposited the ball over the right field wall for the winning home run, as the Pirates could not bother the scorer in the top of the ninth innings.
Kitty and I then joined the throng to leave the stadium and we thought that we would get the “Baseball Special” bus back to the railway station. This time there was a queue of about 500 people, so we walked down Sunset to the Railway station and then the hour train ride back to Norco. It was good to get away from Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium. I will be in no hurry to return – though was I just spoilt by our great experiences in San Diego and Anaheim? Time will tell.