Sunday, June 17: GIANTS 4, DODGERS 1
OK, so it isn’t really ‘Day 12′ and I’m not really on the trip any longer, but I wanted to continue writing until I’ve made it around to every park, so I better keep going. I had not ever seen Dodger Stadium before, and it’s definitely worth the trip, especially when you’re a Giants’ fan and the Giants are in town and they win and it’s Father’s Day and you’re with your kids and you get to go on the field to play catch after the game.
Dodger Stadium is pretty much everything that the Oakland Coliseum is not, although that isn’t necessarily a good thing all the way around. It was packed, which was certainly different from my last game in Oakland (probably 30,000 fans different), but it also took close to an hour to actually get into the stadium. Security lines are god-awful, so we missed the first inning after thinking we’d left the hotel in plenty of time. L.A. is also the worst stadium I saw in terms of public transportation since wandering the vast and hellish wastelands surrounding Globe Life Park in Texas. There’s not really any sane way to get from LAX to the ballpark via public transportation, although the kids and I gave it our best shot after the game, mostly because I was stubborn and wanted to see if it was possible: a bus to Union Station, then three separate Metro trains (red then blue then green, I think) through some rather interesting neighborhoods back to the airport, followed by a shuttle to the terminals, followed by a half-mile walk back to our hotel. I think it took about two hours, all told, but it also only cost us about five bucks, instead of the $35-or-so we paid to have our Lyft driver get us there AND miss the stadium exit twice. Probably a wash.
Still, though, once you ACTUALLY GET INSIDE THE STADIUM, it’s fantastic. The level of nostalgia here is seriously high; not quite in Wrigley/Fenway territory but not as far off from those as you might think. For whatever reason I loved the color scheme; the baby blue (aqua? teal?) seats are my favorite of any I’ve seen. The fact that it’s packed and people are into the game adds to the atmosphere. Nobody hassled us the entire time we spent in LA despite our SF gear, which was a little surprising and, frankly, almost a little disappointing. But the people were super polite and enthusiastic and you had the sense that this was a stadium with a far better home-field advantage than people give it credit for; I always sort of assume that it’s laid-back enough here that there isn’t any intimidation factor for opposing clubs, but even a minor threat by the home team in the bottom of the eighth caused a bit of nervousness for the Giants’ fans in attendance. You got the sense that the raucous fans could make things go bad for visiting teams here in a hurry.
Jude and I had to get Dodger Dogs, although I’m not quite sure if there’s a mystique around these or not. They were pretty much just hot dogs, though longer than average. I may just be nostalgic for ‘Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks,’ a cool book I read when I was a kid about a high school teacher who visits all 26 ballparks in a summer. Other than being part of the title, is there something special about the Dodger Dog? I’m not actually sure. Plus the mustard dispensers poured a ridiculously large quantity of mustard without warning.
A middle-aged couple in the hotdog line in front of us flipped out about my KISS Giants’ shirt, which is admittedly a pretty cool shirt. The woman even took a photo of it and claimed that she would be making it, since she made t-shirts. Again, they were Dodger fans but also super nice. It might have just been too difficult for people to be mean to Giants’ fans who were dads on Father’s Day. Who knows.
After the game, Jude and Dylan and I decided that we’d get on the field as part of their ‘Play Catch on the Field with Dad’ promotion. Technically, I decided and they had very little choice in the matter, as they had no idea how to get back to the hotel. We waited in line for probably close to 45 minutes, snaking our way around the stadium to the center field auxiliary entrance where we were provided with a rubbery, Dodger-logoed ball and told in no uncertain terms that using actual hardballs for catch on the field was prohibited. Once we got onto the field, we realized why that was important: there were maybe 300 people chucking balls in all directions with very little accuracy.
This was a seriously awesome event, and the Dodgers’ management is brilliant for holding it on Father’s Day. Both kids thought it was cool, after having serious doubts during our wait in line. Like, they LEGIT thought it was cool; this is not me pretending that they liked it too just because I liked it so much. Stepping on the grass at a major league stadium is a different feeling than being at the park. Knowing that you were walking on the same spot of lawn once patrolled by Duke Snider and Kirk Gibson is special. It’s probably not the same exact lawn, but you know what I mean. It’s definitely the same lawn patrolled by Yasiel Puig, who was standing on it an hour prior, and that’s something. Dylan likes Puig, mostly because she was convinced his name was ‘Pug’ and she really likes pugs. At any rate, I wanted the kids to feel that this was hallowed ground, and I think they did.
As with all of these trips, the game was only a fraction of the event, and that was emphasized even more in L.A. because I was with the kids. We flew in without incident on Sunday morning before the game, spent most of the day either at the stadium or traveling to & from it, and then went to bed. Then we had all day Monday before a flight home that was scheduled to leave just prior to midnight. We definitely made the most of it, swimming in the nearby Sheraton pool (the one at the Crowne Plaza was being repaired) and then catching a Lyft to Manhattan Beach to kill most of the rest of the day. After lunch at Sloopy’s we spent all afternoon at one of the nicest beaches I’ve seen. I think the kids were in the Pacific Ocean for about five hours, and I even managed to get sunscreen on them so they didn’t fry. We did have to walk along the beach for about a mile-and-a-half with our backpacks and all our stuff, since we were essentially without a home base for the day. And they somehow didn’t even complain. Much.
After dinner at Pitfire Pizza (we highly recommend the Honey Bear and the Big Sur) and a quick trip to the Manhattan Beach public library (50-cent paperbacks at the Friends-of-the-Library sale!), we headed back toward LAX for what we were hoping would be a smooth trip out of town. Everything had gone perfectly thus far, so we were feeling pretty confident.
Alas, Alaska Air had other plans.
First we changed gates. Then we changed gates again. Then they told us that the plane wasn’t there, which we kinda guessed since you could see that the plane wasn’t there. This was followed by another gate change, which was weird since we were switching from one gate that didn’t have our plane to another one, which also didn’t have our plane. But we went along with it. Finally, about an hour late, a plane showed up and we all collectively got excited. Until an announcement from the gate that informed us there was too much fuel on the plane, and also they needed another plane to put that excess fuel on. Which they couldn’t find. Another hour later and we changed gates because they couldn’t find a plane to take the excess fuel, so we were just taking a different one altogether. EXCEPT, this plane was significantly smaller so they were going to have to bump about 20 people.
As soon as the ‘unfortunately…’ part was out of the gate agent’s mouth, I was sprinting toward her from our far-away seats, ready for whatever compensation we might be able to get. Knowing that it was 2 a.m. and the kids were out of their heads after being in the sun all day (and also covered in a decent amount of sand, since we had no towels and were wearing old clothes), I was eager to get paid for this craziness. And get paid we did: three $250 vouchers, a quick night’s stay in the Aloft Hotel nearby, plus breakfast and a flight to San Jose the following morning. I got another $300 bucks in vouchers emailed the next day, I’m guessing because of my snarky and frustrated late-night tweeting (sarcasm pays, kids! Big time!). It was not the most pleasant of airport experiences, but a thousand dollars in airline tickets went pretty far toward making up for it, especially since our original flights were under a hundred bucks each.
So now we’re home, and well-rested after a day-or-so of catching back up on sleep. And for the first time in several months, I have no baseball games scheduled. I’ll have to fix that soon.