Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Weekend in SoCal

Back in town after a quick trip to Los Angeles and San Diego, where I maxed out on California sun and baseball for a couple of days. First, I saw Olemedo Saenz hit a walk-off dinger to lift the Dodgers over the Jays on Friday night. Here's me pretending to be as excited as real Dodgers fans as Saenz rounds the bases:

On Saturday, ShysterBrother and I went to PETCO and watched the Padres' bullpen waste a nice David Wells performance by coughing up a 5-1 lead and blowing the game against the Mariners. Biggest shocker: Jeff Weaver was actually kind of effective for a while for Seattle. Most notable thing about this game? I had sweet seats right in front of the press box (I could have high-fived Jerry Coleman):

Certainly a purer baseball experience in Dodger stadium, where the crowd is treated to simple, pleasant organ music between innings and the fans don't need flashing signs on the jumbotron telling them when to cheer. While people often refer to Dodgers' fans as late-arriving, early-departing dilettantes, this only appears to be the case for the folks in the high-priced seats behind the plate and the dugouts. My compadres in the upper deck down the left field line all fought their way through Friday rush hour traffic to make the first pitch and stayed until the end of the 10th inning. Dodger Stadium could have used some more beer guys -- none came my way all game and the lines on the concourse were ridiculous -- but that seemed minor due to a good game and a nice night.

In contrast to the old-fashioned vibes in Chavez Ravine, PETCO park suffers from blaring rock music between innings and oversized muppets dancing at any moment pitches aren't actually being thrown. Even the groundskeepers get into the act while dragging the infield, engaging in dance routines and full-blown Three Stooges skits while pitchers try to warm up between innings (Boomer seemed annoyed with them). Apparently the Padres think that baseball is so boring that people won't want to come to the park unless they're constantly being assaulted with entertainment.

Which is sad, because it's a really nice park in a gorgeous downtown setting. Check this out:

Yes, Virginia, that's actual foliage adorning the concourse. While Wrigley has ivy in the walls and Coors has some bushes behind the fences, can you think of a ballpark that actually attempts to gussy up the public areas with greenery? Me neither. It's a really nice touch which, my purism aside, I prefer to some more traditional ballpark elements such as, say, urine troughs. Oh, and unlike Dodger Stadium the PETCO beer guys practically set up shop next to me, although that was probably more a function of my ticket price as opposed to the inherent hospitality of the place. But hey, beer is beer.

Quibbles aside, Dodger Stadium and PETCO each have a good beat and you can dance to them, though the folks in San Diego could stand to have a little faith in their fans' attention spans and learn to trust that the product on the field will adequately entertain their guests. If they did, they could take the money they save on whoopie cushions and the Punch and Judy show and plow it into something Padres fans could appreciate.

Like a power hitter.