On the past two Tuesday evenings, I was able to attend a major league baseball game involving my favorite team, the world champion San Francisco Giants.
The first game, on the night of April 2 was at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The second, was last night, April 9, at AT&T park in San Francisco.
The Giants won both games, beating the Dodgers in the first, 3-0, and the Colorado Rockies in an altogether different kind of matchup, 9-6.
I hadn’t attended a game at Dodger Stadium in decades, although it was the ballpark of my childhood, which was spent in Southern California. I knew the Dodgers were under new ownership, and had spent several fortunes in the offseason on new players to challenge the Giants. I also knew that two years ago, Santa Cruz resident and Giants fan Bryan Stow was nearly beaten to death — and suffered catastrophic injuries — at Dodger Stadium at the opening game of the season between the two teams.
Nevertheless, we showed up in Giants gear. No problem there — but though I’d heard security had been beefed up after the Stow disgrace, if there were more cops and security I sure didn’t see them.
The stadium itself remains a great place to see a game, although the scoreboard appears small and antiquated considering the high def jumbo screen of the Giants ballpark. Unlike AT&T, you could also sit pretty much wherever you wanted in the higher seats. No one was checking tickets at all. People came and went up and down aisles no matter what was happening on the field — also in contrast to the Giants park where if a hitter is in the batter’s box, ushers keep movement in the aisles at a minimum to allow the paying customers to actually watch the game on the field rather than someone’s rear end nudging past their face.
The food? Well, the nearby concession stand — we in reserve, behind home plate — ran out of Dodger Dogs in the fourth innning. The horror.
The asphalt walkways leading to Dodger Stadium were cracked and misshapen from too many small earthquakes, and weeds were growing out of many of them.
Parking? Dodger Stadium was built more than a half century ago, and everything just seems so old school. Essentially one road in, through a tough neighborhood, and another out. I understood why Dodger fans have long been derided for coming late and leaving early. The traffic is so horrible and so mismanaged that to get there by the third inning is a miracle, and to get out, well, we just stood in the lot for two hours waiting the long line of snaking cars to begin to break up after the game. The lucky ones probably left in the sixth inning or so. Makes for a quick night, but gotta beat the traffic, right?
The parking lot was lighted, but strangely with a lot of rented equipment powered by noisy generators. The good thing about parking at Dodger Stadium’s one lot is the price: $10.
I was ready to praise Dodger Stadium for another reason as well — the warm April weather, but Tuesday night at AT&T was probably the first warm night in San Francisco in the usually foggy-windy-chilly San Francisco as I’ve ever experienced.
Otherwise, the Giants ballpark, like the team these days, is a marvel of marketing ingenuity, corporate culture and efficiency. You never feel like the staff is anything but courteous and helpful — and you never show up without a stuffed wallet to pay for parking and food.
As for glitz, the Giants last weekend put together three days of impressive ceremonies commemorating their latest World Series triumph that were a combination of Hollywood schmaltz, and LA Laker bravado. The Dodgers, who haven’t won a World Series since 1988, could learn a lesson or two on putting on a show from their rivals up north, who have won two in three years.
And while they’re at it, maybe put a few bucks into their facility in between high-profile contracts for sure-to-disappoint players.