Today is day 2 of the much anticipated road trip to Los Angeles to watch the Diamondbacks face the Dodgers. After last night’s loss the Diamondbacks find themselves just 0.5 games ahead of Los Angeles. With Brandon Webb on the mound the Diamondbacks fans were feeling fairly confident that they would keep their hold on first place. The problem was that nobody told the Dodgers that this was Brandon Webb, leading Cy Young candidate. For the second straight game the Diamondbacks found themselves on the short side of the scoreboard taking them out of first place for the first time since April 4. Rather than dwell on the game, I thought I would instead write a bit about my experiences at Dodger Stadium.
I’d first like to thank the Arizona Diamondbacks for their assistance in getting tickets to these two games. It was an incredible gesture and I will be forever grateful for their help. I made a few initial observations yesterday but wanted to add a few more comments.
Dodger Stadium is an extremely large structure compared to other ballparks I have visited. The location is beautiful nestled in Chavez Ravine. Approaching it reminded me a little of driving up to Disneyland. You are anticipating seeing the stadium but it is hidden from view until the very last moment. It is not a ballpark that you are just going to stumble upon, you have to be looking for it.
The Dodgers control much of the land around the stadium giving them nearly complete control of the parking. This is both a positive and a negative. On the positive you are probably not going to get gouged too bad during times of high attendance. On the negative side they have a near monopoly on parking so there are no competitors that could drive the prices down. We ended up paying triple what we normally would at Chase Field and we had to park farther away from the stadium.
The fans at Dodger Stadium are very passionate but overall well behaved. They love their team and the stands were filled with fans wearing Dodger blue. Not just the stadium giveaway apparel but thousands were wearing Dodger jerseys. When we arrived in our Diamondbacks gear we were warmly greeted by the Dodger Stadium personnel and the fans but they did let us know that they were going to win. There was good natured ribbing on both sides and never did I feel nervous or worried. I can’t say the same thing for other stadiums or cities. In fact I think they were better behaved than the crowds in Chase Field. I did not witness any fights in the stands; I can’t say the same for our stadium.
Dodger Stadium has some interesting rules and what is allowable and what is not. For example you cannot bring in signs, whistles, brooms, beach balls, flags, air horns, pets, fireworks, bottles, hard sided coolers to name a few. The fans at Dodger Stadium would make great smugglers as I saw more beach balls get tossed around than I did at the beach. The two most interesting ones were signs and flags. When I saw the no flag rule I nearly did cartwheels! Finally a stadium that would banish Rally Sally, what more could I ask for?
Another interesting fan experience point was that during the pregame the Dodgers read the fan code of conduct of how they expected fans to act during the game. This included asking fans to watch their language and their behavior. This is similar to what they do at Chase Field. The difference was that at the end they displayed a phone number that fans could call during the game and security would come and remove the obnoxious fan from the stands. At first I just kind of chuckled but during last night’s game we witnessed this in action. Below us was what could only be described as Rally Sally’s son. He was dressed in some obnoxious clothing and was wearing a Burger King crown. He got up between innings and began dancing back and forth along the row similar to what Rally Sally does in the upper deck. Like the fans at Chase Field, people began to cheer for this bonehead which just made him act crazier. When he finished the crowd roared their approval. It was not offensive but obviously someone didn’t think it was appropriate or they couldn’t see. Either way a call was made and within 4 pitches security was in the section and led the Rally King out of the stadium. Man if I could do that with Rally Sally I would be one happy fan.
Last night I tried a world-famous Dodger Dog at the concessions. It was good but quite honestly I was not that impressed. Today I travelled along the concourse looking for something different. It was interesting to see that every vendor on the level all sold Dodger Dogs. I guess that way you never have to wait too long for a dog. It did seem weird that the Mexican concession and the frozen yogurt vendors both sold hot dogs.
Talking to some of the fans they recommended the sausage if you were crazy enough to buy something besides a Dodger Dog. I had an Italian sausage just so I could compare it to Hungry Hill. I will stack Chase Field’s concessions up against any in the league and feel they would come out on top. The sausage was ok but nothing compared to those we get at Hungry Hill. The sausage cost $6.75. If you wanted grilled peppers that was another dollar. If you wanted sauerkraut that was another dollar meaning that to get a loaded sausage like they serve at Hungry Hill would cost $8.75. It was smaller than Hungry Hill as well making the $6 Italian Sausage at Chase Field one of the best values anywhere and better quality to boot.
Prices across the board all favored the Diamondbacks. From tickets to food to team shop items to programs were all less expensive at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks have long touted that they were the best value in baseball but until this trip I thought this was just a marketing ploy. I have come away from this trip now understanding exactly what they meant.
When you enter Dodger Stadium you do so at a specific level of where your seats are located. The ushers ensure that you are on the right level and are helpful to fans trying to find their seats. We were greeted with a smile and a friendly attitude no matter who we talked to. What I did find interesting was that the ushers made sure that you stayed at that level. We wanted to tour the stadium before the game and look at the various levels but were told that our tickets only admitted us to a specific level. Security was stationed at each stairwell and escalator to make sure you didn’t wander to another level. We therefore were kept away from the areas so I can’t really comment on anything other than the loge level.
We weren’t the only Diamondbacks fans at the stadium. I talked to several people who were also wearing Diamondbacks gear. It was good to see some Sedona Red and I am hoping this trend continues to where there will be patches of red show up in every stadium. Once we get the Diamondbacks fans there we can work on making them more vocal. At today’s game we had an opportunity to sit near Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young’s parents. Mr. and Mrs. Young were wearing their Sedona Red jersey and shirts proudly. When they arrived they said hello to all the other Diamondbacks fans before finding their seats. I do have to publicly apologize to them as one member of our party went and sat behind them talking to them for a couple of innings. He meant well but that would drive me crazy if someone was talking to me during the game. They were very gracious about it and it was a highlight of his trip. If it is any consolation, he did the same thing to Conor Jackson’s neighbor the night before. We had bets going that Mitch was telling Mr. and Mrs. Young about Conor Jackson’s neighbor.
Overall it was a great experience and we had fun despite the game outcome. As I walked out of the stadium I reflected on the past two days and I realized that Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was right; there really is no place like home. I can’t wait to get back to Chase Field to watch another game.