Another early start for me today. I boarded a 6:15 Greyhound bus in San Diego for (what was supposed to be) a 2 hour trip up north to LA.
This particular bus was not one of the better chariots in the Greyhound fleet. Most of the seats and carpet had some kind of indecipherable stains on them, a good percentage of the riders looked like they were on parole and just about every overhead compartment door was broken and clattered the whole trip. But the view along Route 5 was beautiful. We were making excellent time until we made a stop in Long Beach to pick up more passengers in a neighborhood somewhat like Newark, NJ with palm trees. The bus was delayed in leaving due to the driver arguing with a passenger who was trying to board with an old, filthy mattress. Once we got rolling, we got onto The 110 at rush hour and commenced with 2 and a half hours of 15 mph crawling. We finally arrived at LA past the 'tent cities' below the underpasses and into the bus depot around 10:30. I checked into my hotel on S. Figueroa Ave and grabbed an Uber for the ride out to the Stadium for a 12 noon start. There's no mass transit to the park and it's not easily walkable from anywhere in the city. Even if you have a car, Uber is really your best choice here.
Located about a 10 minute drive from downtown in the valley of Chavez Ravine, Dodger Stadium is truly a no frills ballpark, but that's part of it's beauty and allure. You get a real sense of the history of Dodger baseball and all of the greats that have played there, being the 3rd oldest ballpark in baseball.
With the retirement of the original Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in 2008, the park reigns as the largest capacity ballpark in the Majors.
The stadium is very well kept up but no real touches of modernization and still very much bears the looks of a stadium from the 1960's. A really nice feature was the colors of the seats - yellow, light orange, turquoise, and sky blue - unlike at any other ballpark.
But clearly the most appealing feature is the view beyond the park. Despite being only minutes from one of the biggest metropolis on the continent, there's not a building in site beyond the outfield walls, just the breathtaking vista of background that includes swaying palm trees and the San Gabriel Mountains. I made it a point to get up to the upper deck to take it all in. If you head to Dodger Stadium - arrive a little early and make your way to the upper deck to take in this amazing view yourself. While the views are quite remarkable, the story of how the residents of the ravine were displaced by the government in order to build this ballpark is not a pretty one.
Two of Dodger Stadium's most distinctive features are the wavy roof atop each outfield pavilion and the top of a 10-story elevator shaft bearing the Dodger logo rising directly behind home plate at the top of the uppermost seating level. A unique terraced-earthworks parking lot was built behind the main stands, allowing ticket holders to park at roughly the level of their seats, minimizing use of ramps once inside. The stadium was also designed to be earthquake-resistant, an important consideration in California, and it has withstood several serious earthquakes.
The park has a few cute features, most notably the interesting life size bobblehead statues around the outfield pavilion. In addition to those of Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, and Don Sutton, the retired numbers of Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Tommy Lasorda, Walter Alston, Roy Campanella and Jim Gilliam are mounted on the club level facade near the left field foul pole.
My biggest moment of gratitude came when I was on line for concessions. Like all parks, the TV broadcasts are on at concessions stands so fans don't miss any action while they're waiting to pay $12 for their cold garlic fries or 'legendary' Dodger Dogs. It was when I heard the unmistakable voice of Vin Scully that I realized that I was actually in the same building as this true baseball immortal who's been calling games for the Dodgers since their days in Brooklyn.
My seat was wonderful with the only problem of it being fully exposed to the sun on a 95 degree day.
Another treat was getting to see the great Clayton Kershaw pitch for the Dodgers matched up against the D-Backs ace, Patrick Corbin. Kershaw clearly did not have his best stuff and struggled through 5 innings allowing 3 runs (although he struck out 9). The Dodgers picked him up though by unloading on Corbin with 6 runs in the 5th highlighted by a Chris Heisey grand slam. Between innings, Kershaw could be seen engaged in a heated argument with his manager Don Mattingly in the dugout, probably over Mattingly's decision to take him out. Regardless, the Dodgers 6-3 lead held up and Kershaw got his 15th win of the season. A total of 39 players were used in the game.
After the game, I headed down to Santa Monica walked the pier, witnessed a gorgeous sunset, had a great dinner and spent some time on the 3rd street promenade before heading back to my hotel in LA. I'll probably spend some time in Hollywood tomorrow morning before heading down to Anaheim.
Fans C Loyal to their Dodgers but brimming with LA attitude. A huge departure from the mid-west hospitality that I was treated to just a few weeks ago
Features B+ A no frills, old school ball park. Beautifully maintained with the best backdrop in baseball. The stadium is filled with history and, of course, Vin Scully. Park Info Guide
Location B- An "A" for the beautiful setting, but a "C" since it (like everything else in LA) isn't walk-able from anywhere and can be a challenging drive based on the time you head over there
Food D Food quality equivalent to that of a prison mess hall. Dodger Dogs may have been a special thing 50 years ago, but aren't so special now. Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria had slightly better options. There are some plans to upgrade the fare next season
Game C Got to see the great Clayton Kershaw work his art (well for 5 innings anyway).
Overall Experience - B It's hard to rate this venue a C given it's such a great baseball institution. But honestly, so many other parks offer a much better experience