Great story from Matt Miller over at the 110 Report on his experience last night at Dodger Stadium. With all of the negative stuff that has come from Frank McCourt’s bankruptcy and Ned Colletti’s curious baseball moves, it’s nice to know that there is still a good time to be had at the ballpark. Enjoy!
The takeaway from the Phillies 2 to 1 victory over the Dodgers on Tuesday night could easily be the Phillies are the real deal. Cliff Lee struck out ten (and homered in the seventh for the game winning run) en route to a routine victory—the 11th of their last 12. The takeaway could be the Dodgers continued inability to score runs. Mind you they did face Lee, but they squandered a quality outing from starter Ted Lilly.
Given the nature of this trying season, with the McCourt divorce as the forefront not the backdrop to the Dodgers actual sub .500 results, I would like to report what I saw beyond the outcome, and in the bleachers. It was a mixed bag, but besides the result I felt better that its not all gloom and doom in Dodgertown.
The usual traffic left me missing the pregame ceremony honoring Brooklyn Dodger centerfielder Duke Snider. After the Dodgers left runners on first and third in the first with no one out, Lee went on autopilot. The repetitive 3 up 3 down for the Dodgers most of the night all sort of ran together like a broken yolk in the frying pan. The rest is what stood out.
The early part of the game was highlighted by the extraordinary amount of security in the stadium (or at least the bleachers). Not just security too, but police. Following the home opener beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow in the parking lot the Dodgers don’t appear to be taking any chances. Fans in the bleachers who were thrown out numbered probably between 10 and 20 in the bleachers alone. The fans I saw at least did not appear to do anything particularly egregious. Perhaps just yell at a fan in a giants shirt. It might seem harsh, but all the parties did exit the stadium peacefully.
Additionally, the family sitting behind me had made a sign. Across five people read “We (heart) the Duke & Fam.” Attempting to make it onto the bug screen, the sign made it through the first 5 innings before security came to confiscate it. The pretty blondes sitting adjacent as well myself were shocked. Seating attendants always grab beach balls, but this was new to me. Even the Phillies fans were appalled.
And you couldn’t miss the Philly fans. The attendance for this game was 46, 547, well over the 36,700 average for the year. The Phillies owning the best record in baseball certainly draws more Dodgers fans out to the game than say the Astros would. But credit the Phillies fans for that number too since there was a lot of them in their team’s color. The area behind the visiting dugout erupted when Cliff Lee hit his solo shot into the right field pavilion. However, as I informed the Philly fan next to me, none of them likely would get as much flak as the Giants’ fan in the next section. In return, he informed me that any of the Phillies and even Michael Vick were more popular in Philadelphia than Desean Jackson and the guys from Its Always Sunny. Now I know.
No one likes to see their stadium overrun by the opposing fans, but I think the security worked because the moments at the end of the game were much more what I am looking for when I come to a game. By worked I would say made the game a more friendly, baseball-centric community rather than a ranting and raving community. That can be fun, like the fans who relentlessly booed recent brawler Shane Victorino (he brawled with the Giants, I actually thought he might be applauded), but not necessary.
So there was good news at the end of the game. So first the Dodgers almost mounted a comeback that saw them finally score a run in the ninth on a Casey Blake single to left. But the second really stuck with me. There was a mother and her two very young kids trying to start the wave in the bleachers in the bottom of the eighth. They had a couple unsuccessful attempts, but then with her daughter on her shoulders, the mother convinced her daughter no older than 4 and a half to yell in her cutest, and probably usual tone, “we are going to do the wave. 1, 2, 3.” The majority in section 113 stood up, yelled, waving their hands. It was a tense moment, watching and cheering as the wave moved around the stadium counterclockwise. The mother pointed around the stadium demonstrating to her daughter the wave that she created. The bleachers were united, clapping for her as the family returned to their seats.
It’s not entirely accurate to categorize the wave as a baseball-centric activity. But despite the McCourt blunders and tumultuous season, despite security confiscating signs, ejecting fans, and despite opposing fans amuck in the stadium; the end of the game resonated with a purer form of game experience. You don’t get that on TV (even though the view is better from the couch). But the crowd was together around the attempted comeback and wave. It was a pure feeling. I was proud to be there. And third I got a date to the Hollywood sign with a pretty blonde on Friday. It is a small example, but it made me feel a lot more optimistic about the Dodgers future than the rest of the headlines. See, its not all gloom and doom.
Thanks again to Matt Miller at the 110 Report for a great perspective from last night’s game.