This is a weekly feature in which I (and maybe you, too, readers) detail the various reasons for hating your ballpark. This week: Dodger Stadium.
Elision fields: Dodger Stadium is the bright, happy face of just about every regrettable development in mid-20th century American life, and none of them had anything to do with poor Doris Kearns Goodwin not being able to go to Ebbets with her daddy anymore.
The Brooklyn Dodgers blew town for Los Angeles in 1957, a sort of white flight on a grand scale and a move so widely and extravagantly mourned that even now New York developers can still sell a large public boondoggle on all that old Dodger necrophilia. The team's new stadium in Los Angeles would be located on a tract of some 350 acres in Chavez Ravine. The land had been earmarked for a public housing project, Elysian Park Heights, but had become newly available because a red-baiting empty suit named Norris Poulson had successfully demagogued the project — and the issue of "socialist housing" in general — straight into the mayoralty. A neighborhood was razed. In 1958, one of the last remaining residents, Aurora Vargas, was carried from her house by sheriff's deputies. The bulldozers arrived just minutes later.
The stadium itself was also a product of its time: a monument to car culture (parking for 16,000 cars against 700 in Flatbush); an ode to consumerism and distraction (Walter O'Malley's original plans included an auto service center, car washes, restaurants, and novelty and souvenir shops); and in general a rebuke to squalid urban living (Disneyland was a model for O'Malley, and in 1982 Forbes wrote: "Dodger Stadium is squeaky clean, beautifully landscaped and rests in a striking setting. As at Disneyland, Dodger Stadium attendants — even in the parking lot — are civil. The bathrooms are clean and safe.") And as with Disneyland, it was thoroughly phony. At the first batting practice in Dodger Stadium, players were said to marvel at the ballpark's deep green grass, but soon they noticed that the baseballs, too, were turning green. It was dye. Groundskeepers had coated the turf the night prior, at the suggestion of Mervyn LeRoy, the movie director.
The place was built on the fever dreams of an era — red-baiting, xenophobia, rapid suburbanization, frisky consumerism — like one big Douglas Sirk movie of a ballpark. Today, you can drive to Dodger Stadium, onetime bulwark against the pinkos, and park your car on the site of Aurora Vargas' former home.
The view from the stands (everything sic'd):
Word of caution: These may strike readers as casually racist. I've included them because, well, just about all the Dodger Stadium submissions were casually racist.
The incomparable Frank Drebin once said being in prison was like being in the stands at a Raiders game. Well the outfield bleachers at Dodger Stadium were where Traitors fans used to spend their summers. Rowdy fans sporting area code tattoos on their shaved heads, six dollars seats and lots of beer always made for an adventure on a hot summer day or night. While it was a thing of beauty to see the entire Left Field Pavilion flip off Barry Bonds in unison, things could turn ugly very quickly. Fights were the norm and wearing a Giants jersey could get you shanked Oz style outside the stadium. You always had to keep your head on a swivel in the pavilion. My particular moment came exactly one inning before the greatest World Series homerun ever. As an eight year old kid I was ecstatic to be at the World Series until two drunks picked a fight with an A's fan. The A's fan ended up losing when the two drunks picked him up and threw him three rows down. He landed square on my back and I face planted into the seat in front of me. Fortunately I was a big and sturdy eight year old (read: model for the Husky Juniors catalog) and having a 200 pound man thrown on top of me only busted my upper lip open. So as Kirk Gibson pumped his fists and rounded the bases I held an icepack on my swollen lip and tried not to cry. (Pieper)
Four years ago I'm sitting with three buddies in the bad section. The games a real snoozer. A dude that looks like Frog from "Colors" and his friend who looks like he ate Frog from "Colors" are relentlessly screaming at us for nine innings of 1-1 baseball. Finally, Derrek Lee hits a go-ahead RBI in the 10th to win, 2-1. As we're leaving, Frog yells at me "What's up Cubs faggot! It took you 10 innings to score two runs!" After I pointed out that the Dodgers only scored 1 run in ten innings he responded with "At least we didn't draft a running back from Texas!" Knowing he was referring to the newly acquired Cedric Benson, I informed this gentleman that his beloved Los Angeles did not have a football team. He responded by pretending to shoot me with a finger gun. (Ike B.)
If you are a fan of the opposing team your chances of making it out alive from the cheap(er) seats are dramatically reduced equal to the amount of gear you happen to be wearing of the visiting team. I don't mean this in a friendly rivalry type of way. The vast amounts of gangsta type individuals are more concerned with berating the shit out of you and keeping their beloved beach balls from drifting over the section than caring even for a second with the going ons of the game on the field. For too many people, Dodger stadium is only ostensibly about the baseball game. In reality the dumb beach balls and chances to find fights are the real draw. Easily the most dangerous ballpark in the country. I went to the clinching game for the Mets in the 2006 NLDS and I survived only after leaving the upper section and huddling with other Mets fans and a few burly security guards. (Sebastian H.)
A few years ago, when Dodger Stadium wasn't as "family friendly" as today, the ball comes out and is played with until a fat bald dude with a fu manchu snatches the damn thing and pops it, laughing at those around him. I was secretly and silently applauding him, but I knew shit was gonna hit the fan when stupid Dodger fans come into play. First people start teasing the guy and throwing peanuts and ice cubes. Two guys a few rows up from Bull Hurley continue to taunt him and the argument escalates. On this given night, the organization provided fans with wooden mini bat replicas. Bad idea.....one of the two Ben Davis wearing clowns releases a beast of a loogie onto Bull who retaliates by swinging his bat at them. The other guys exchange bat swings with him and get the upper hand, though no serious blows were registered by either side.
Amazingly, only one of the Mexican Mafia guys was taken away by security. The other dude remained slumped on his seat the rest of the game while Bull had to tend to some bruises. It was a fun site, especially seeing all the people in the surrounding seats part like the Red Sea towards my direction when the bats started flying. (Nato)
I was 16 years old at Dodger Stadium with a buddy of mine from High School. We were sitting in the right field pavilion. Early on in the game a guy gets up to go the bathroom and asks if I'll watch his stuff (a bag, jacket, Dodger gear, etc). I say sure and proceed to kind of forget about it until a middle aged cholo walks over, grabs the stuff and begins to walk away. I stop him and tell him that that the stuff he's taking aint his and to put it back. He looks at me for a moment and asks me what the fuck do I care, I tell him that Im watching it for someone else and to put it back. He does so, and walks away.
About 5 minutes later he yells to me from a few rows up "Hey!....look out for your own...remember that...look out for your own". I absent mindedly nod and try to watch the Dodgers play the Cubs. Then, for the next two innings he yells anti-semetic slurs at me while his other forty something year old Vato Loco homies laugh. Evidently he saw that I had a Star of David Around my neck (nevermind that I grew up in North East L.A with mostly "his own"). In that same game, and in most games I attend at Dodger Stadium there were fist-fights inside and outside the stadium between various tatted up pelons, and lots of shouts of "faggot!' and "Bitch!" directed at anyone, man, woman or child dressed in the opposing teams gear. Most Dodger fans are cool, and way more knowledgeable than annoying East Coast douche-bags in tight jeans would ever want to admit, but there is a shittily pervasive criminal element that gives us Dodger fans a thugged out reputation. (Lex)
This is too easy, Dodger Stadium. When I was in high school, my family took a trip out west. We're a NY-area family, so there's always been interest in the Dodgers in the bloodlines. I'm a big baseball fan, and was very excited to take in a game with my pops. However, as soon as we got there, which was about 20 minutes early, we did the walk around. You couldn't tell there would be a game going on that day. The place was empty til about the 3rd inning. People started filling in the seats around me and my dad. Then, the first thing this L.A. blogger/douche that shows up late/sits next to me does, is blow up a beach ball and start smacking it around, and then takes his shirt off and rests in on our shared armrest. Now, I wanted to be into the game, but between Douchey A with his shirt off smacking a beachball and douchey B who is as amused as Simple Jack by the concept of the ball going around plus a 4-tier wave, it was miserable. Then, I was pissed because we had to leave early, the 7th inning, to go to a party of a family/friend that lived in Santa Monica. As soon as my father and I stood up to leave, it seemed as if everyone in the stadium would follow us out. I kept jokingly reminding people that the game wasn't over, we just had to go to a party, there were still a few more innings.
Anyway, I know this might sound stereotypical of an LA trip, but come on, doesn't that say something on its own? (TheOnlyNetsFan)
Actually, I don't have that much bad to say about Dodger Stadium, but ever since the O'Malley's sold the franchise, the owners (both FOX and McCourts) have endorsed a limited or now no tailgating policy. WTF? I remember going to my first Dodger game after they were sold to Fox and was unaware of the no tailgaiting policy. We set up shop in the (near) empty parking lot about 90 minutes before game time. We were in the middle of setting up our bbq when the police come driving up telling us that it was against the rules now. I asked them if that was permanent or temporary. They claimed it was probably only going to be temporary (a limited bbq area was later established and then banished) but for now we had to put our bbq away. They saw our drinks (non booze in appearance, but filled with delicious alcoholic goodness in reality) and they mentioned it was a good thing that we weren't drinking alcohol as that was against the rules too. The cops then relayed a story from the last group of people they were harrassing, wait, I mean, informing of the new tailgaiting rules. Basically, that group was drinking their alcohol in the open and the cops wrote them up tickets, made them dump all of their booze and one of the group got pissed off at the cops so they arrested him - and slammed his head into the cop car on purpose - as they put him in the back of the car. They thought it was hiliarious. We laughed along with them and went back to boozing as soon as they left. Well, we were pretty pissed off at the new policy and when the game was over we raced back to our car and fired up that grill and ate our non Dodger Dogs just out of principle. (ADR)
Dodger fans get a well deserved rap for arriving late, leaving early, and checking tmz.com for the remaining 4 innings they're in the stadium. My story however reflects the 3rd world soccer enviornment that sitting in the "cheap" (read $15 to park, $25 per shitty seat, and $5 for the ground possum anus Dodger Dog) seats entails. I'm sitting in the far right-field upper deck with my girlfriend and another female friend watching the Padres get demolished by the Dodgers. I'm the only white-guy in the section (including my friends, both hispanic) and I'm taking a pretty fair amount of abuse for being a "faggot", I assume since I have a Padres hat on. Anyhow, dealing with homophobic abuse in two languages is about par for the course in a town that hasn't won a baseball championship since I was 8, but the only thing that really bothered me was the little boy behind me kicking my seat for 5 innings asking his papa how many points the Doyers had. They decide to leave in the middle of the 6th (to beat traffic I assume) and as the kid gives my seat one last kick for good measure I finally turn around and politely tell the father that he should at least educate his son enough to know that points are for soccer or jai alai, they're called "runs" in baseball. In short, he questioned my sexual orientation in Spanish (in front of his son no less) and then called me the Spanish version of a motherfucker (failing to see the inherent contradiction in his insult). This was merely the most interesting story in a day that ended with the local chapter of MECHa pouring beer on the two women I was with, while I was in the bathroom. No public transportation to a stadium built over the razed homes of thousands of families, a worthless fan-base, and a history GM's running the team like a bad fantasy roster (signings of Kevin Brown/Eric Davis/Daryl Strawberry/Darren Dreifort/Carlos Perez/Juan Pierre/Jason Schmidt/Andruw Jones) are why this soulless team peaked in the Reagan administration. (Chris)
The biggest issue is the damn parking lot, which works to undermine the whole experience of being a Dodger fan and certainly the image we have. Everybody thinks Dodgers fans show up late, and leave early. And you know what? It's true. Due to the shitty parking lot that takes for-fucking-ever to exit after a game, coupled with the insanity of SoCal traffic, and considering that a ton of Dodgers fans are admittedly idiotic assholes (there is a lot of crossover between Dodgers and Raiders fans), every Dodgers game features the annoyingly late attendance of about half the crowd, and the early exit by about the same amount. To make matters worse, the same half who show up late and leave early spend the entire time playing with goddamn beach balls and talking about whether they should leave before or after the Dodgers bat in the eighth. If a committed fan feels the urge to yell, jeer, or to stand up for any moment other than immediately after a homerun, they are pretty much alone in doing so and are sometimes outright mocked by other fans who are seemingly so road-weary that they can't be bothered to actually pay attention to something they just spent all their drug money on. So, sometimes, even when they're winning, or in an exciting season like this one, it's just not that fun to be at a Dodgers game and the parking lot that the O'Malleys designed when they brought the team to Chavez Ravine is 90% responsible for that. (Daniel B.)
It is a universal truth that anyone visiting Doger Stadium for the first time is, as we say in Texas, shit out of luck (SOL, when kids are around). We arrived 5 minutes before first pitch, took a decent looking parking space, and got to our seats in the second inning, after climbing up 143 stairs, walking 2/3 of the way around the stadium, and trying 4 different gates before we could enter, only to have 4 ever-so-helpful ticket takers tell us that OUR gate was the next one down. Three of them were lying dicks. The fourth was also a dick, but at least he was honest.
After the game, another super-helpful usher told us to go the other way around and take the escalator to get to our parking spot. The single escalator was running the wrong way - set to help lazy Angelenos, surely worn out from hours of hot yoga, take a treacherous journey down a stairway. Somehow we ended up climbing up another 50 stairs.
193 steps up, none down. Chavez Ravine is clearly some hell pit vortex, which defies all sense of logic. This somewhat helps to explain Dodger fans' love affiar with Tommy Lasorda. (Jacob L.)
Photo via hburrussiii's Flickr account.
Next up: The San Diego Padres' Petco Park. Got any horrible experiences to share? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.