So, I woke up in LA this morning with some time to kill and decided to take the obligatory bus tour through Hollywood and Beverly Hills (on the upper deck of a 2 story bus in 95 degree heat). It was 25 years since I'd last been to Hollywood, so it was kind of interesting - especially getting off and walking the Sunset Strip with all of it's funky history.
I grabbed an Uber to Anaheim around noon. The driver was an Iranian UCLA film student who talked the entire hour about how he would be the next Stanley Kubrick and how his wife would kill him if she knew how many Snickers bars he ate everyday. I'm not knocking Uber. Uber is great and the drivers are all super friendly. Beats the hell out of taking a cab.
After checking in the hotel, what does one do in Anaheim with 4 hours to kill but go to the 'Happiest Place on Earth'
I'll admit, I'm not really a Disney fan and only went since it (like the Hollywood bus tour) was 'obligatory'. But I'll also admit that I loved it and wish I had came straight down from LA first thing to have spent more time there.
The lines for most of the good rides were long and to get out of the heat I went on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride since there were only about 20 people queued up.
Only after I was on the ride did I realize that it was really meant for 6 years olds - which explains all the strange looks that I was getting on line. Who cares, I'm still pretty much a kid at heart anyway. Before I left the park, I made sure I had one of their legendary $11 churros.
My hotel in Anaheim hotel was only a short walk to Angel Stadium (aka the 'Big A') with my passing along the way two Orange County staples Jack-In-The-Box (my first employer in NJ when I was 16) and In-N-Out Burger. The torrid temps cooled down nicely by game time. I had donned an old Jeff Weaver t-shirt (which I have no idea how I got) for the game.
Angel Stadium was built in 1966 (just 4 years after it's neighbor Dodger Stadium) which makes it the 4th oldest is MLB. Being an older park, it lacks the quirks and frills of the newer ones but also lacks the cache and history of it's neighbor in Chavez Ravine. The main entrance to the stadium is kind of cool. There is a 'faux' infield and home plate made of bricks and the main gate is flanked by 2 giant helmets which serve as a popular meeting place for ticket holders.
The inside of the park is roomy and well maintained. The signature feature of the stadium is the rock formation and waterfall out in centerfield which looks even cooler in person than it does on TV. The other notable feature is outside in the parking lot. There is a huge sign shaped like a giant 'A' with the halo around it that lights up after an Angels win letting drivers out on I-5 or CA-57 know about the victory. The park has a capacity of 65,000 mainly to accommodate LA Rams ticket holders when they were tenants here up until 1994.
The fans and employees were a lot friendlier than at Dodger stadium. The cashier in the team store saw I was wearing a Mets hat and gave me a bunch of old Mets baseball cards (mostly crap players like Bernard Gilkey, but the gesture was nice). The SGA was an Angels boot mug (which I gave to the woman sitting next to me).
Food options are so-so at best. La Rotisserrie and Smoke Ring BBQ were two of the better choices I saw, but I opted for a (really good) grilled cheese sandwich instead. They have a Chronic Taco stand, but the lines were way too long.
In the last week of the season, the Angels are fighting for one of the wild card spots so every win for them is crucial. The M's got off to a 1-0 lead when Nelson Cruz crushed his 43rd HR off starter Garrett Richards, but the Halos answered right back with 4 in the bottom of the 1st highlighted by Albert Pujols 37th HR (557th of his career). The Mariners closed the gap to 4-2 but it was all Angels from there on, cruising to an 8-4 victory for their 3rd win in a row bringing them within a half game of Houston for the 2nd Wild card spot.
A nice treat during the game was their tradition of playing 'Build me up Buttercup' during the 7th inning stretch. One of my favorite songs as a kid.
Unfortunately, the score never required the appearance of the Rally Monkey - which was a bit of a disappointment.
Fans - B - More family oriented. Orange county more laid back than LA and Dodger Stadium. Fans and stadium employees were all very friendly
Features C - The rock waterfall is a real nice touch as is the picnic area behind it, Big A sign in parking lot and giant hats at the gate
Giveaways in gift shop. It's the 4th oldest ballpark in the majors (the other LA ballpark is the 3rd oldest) but it's well kept up. It doesn't nearly have the cache of their neighbors to the north in Chavez Ravine
Location C - 15 minute walk from some downtown hotels but you'll be walking on some pretty busy streets. Can easily get there by Uber or driving, but be prepared for traffic on I-5
Food - C - Grilled Cheese , Chronic Taco (longest lines in the park) in addition to the standard old ballpark fare. Not a lot of variety but more to come I'm told
Game C - Watching a first ballot Hall of Famer - Albert Pujols - go yard in his chase for 600 was worth the price of admission alone
Overall Experience - C - Park was comfy and well maintained, but kind of dated and lacking in features that many other parks offer. Same can be said for Dodger Stadium, but the latter has much more history, allure and personality than this place does.