SoSG Alex Cora and I made it out to the Dodgers' Rally Sunday at the Stadium yesterday evening, and the event was kind of like a kids birthday party at Chuck E Cheese:
- abundant availability of cheap food and drink;
- an atmosphere that was a little bit more chaotic than it should have been;
- a couple of nice moments when everyone chered in unison (except, instead of singing "Happy Birthday," everyone ended up saying "I Love The Dodgers!" at Tommy Lasorda's behest);
- a goofy, out-of-place guy walking around in a ratty / furry costume;
- and a couple of people (including myself) who walked away with a tchochke item or two, as if they had been playing skee-ball for two straight hours just to amass the tickets.
Not that I didn't have other options, but I just couldn't spend $35 on a gray NL West Division Champions t-shirt, even if the shirt logo and design looked a heck of a lot better than the oversized Coliseum pre-season game logo shirts that still aren't moving, even at 50% off. So cheap tchochkes it was, they would have to satisfy.
But let's get to elaboration on the five bullet points above.
Food and drink was offered at prices so low, you'd think Frank McCourt was CRAZY. Or, that he was trying to get rid of excess hot dog and nacho inventories from the 2008 season (at least, I hope it was the 2008 season). Nonetheless, we got our share of nitrates and cokes despite the fact that we were in the slowest queue at the counter (I took a picture of the woman serving our line, intending to post her visage on the site, but realized today that that wouldn't be very nice). Kudos to the stadium for not selling beer, which would have been a disaster because...(see next paragraph)
...the logistic planning was woefully poor for this event. The Dodgers had set up a stage in front of the first base side field level, apparently thinking that only four or five sections full of fans would come to an empty stadium to rally for the team. Well, they were off, by magnitudes of 4-5x. Not only were almost all of the sections of the field level filled on the first base side (I'm guessing, from about aisle 10 and up), but they also had to start shepherding incoming crowds to the loge level, which was also filling up. I don't even know if there were concession stands open up there (SoSG readers know I'm an elitist), but the crowds were clearly more than they had expected from a seating perspective. This was exacerbated when the Dodgers staff simply did not know what to do when their initial sections could not meet the overflow crowd. Ushers forced everyone into the main concourse, forbidding people from taking seats in other sections until they officially "opened up", which led to mass claustrophobia and a stampede of squished people. Fans at the rally with kids in tow had a particularly tough time standing there, with no movement, squished in place for 15 minutes. I kind of expected to see Drew McCourt leading crowd control from a booth in the press box, as it was a logistic disaster.
Once the festivities started, though, it was nice to see people on Diamond Vision (since viewing the stage, from our section, was impossible). Tommy Lasorda of course led off the list of guest speakers, and he was in fine form. You think he sounds angry in the Aamco radio commercials? He sounded pissed off and furious here. Tommy is so pumped for this series, that he did all but guarantee the World Championship title (heck, I'd take a playoff series win, at this point). I expected the bombastic delivery and propaganda, but there were two weird parts, though. First, he called out the few strange fans who wore Angels stuff. Why you would wear Angels gear to a Dodgers rally is bizarre, true; but why waste the time firing up the people by screaming, "the only angels I know are up in heaven, and they're all ex-Dodgers?" I'm not sure where Mike Scioscia ends up, given that logic; perhaps he's a ghost. Secondly, as Tommy was being asked his opinions on each position, when he got to Andruw Jones there was an understandable chorus of boos from the crowd. Lasorda took it upon himself to admonish us for booing Jones ("He's trying his hardest, and as long as he wears a Dodger uniform, we need to pull for him"), which I guess proves the point that obesity loves company (and food).
Lasorda ended up giving way to Don Newcombe and other Dodger legends. I confess that I wasn't able to stay much later, so I missed the arrival of the team and the rest of the show.
But about that goofy mascot guy...Bernie, the Inland Empire 66ers (Dodgers' minor league affiliate) mascot, was roaming around Dodger Stadium, and if I ever needed a last shred of proof that the Dodgers do not need a mascot, here it was. Bernie was not only the mangiest mascot I've seen since Palos Verdes' Marineland closed in the 1980s, he scared the bejeezus out of many small kids with his over-aggressive antics and unprovoked yelping sounds, the latter of which sounded like a sealion about to attack. I saw one child shrinking in horror from Bernie, as the poor kid was too scared to take a picture with the furry weirdo armed with shrieking screams and herky-jerky seizure-like movement. And later on, I saw this clown pretending to eat the head of another kid (the line for Dodger Dogs got worse as the evening went on), and the kid came out dazed and shocked. I thought the first rule of mascot behavior was to not maul children? This guy needed to get the Dodger Stadium security staff treatment, as Bernie was a liability lawsuit waiting to happen. Go send him to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, and let him duke it out with Crater to the death. And who decided it was a good idea to bring Bernie, a bright red sorespot, to a Dodgers rally in the first place?
Our early departure allowed us to enjoy sundown at the Stadium, which was nice, and I was happy to support the Dodgers' rally and cheer a couple times for our team. I was sorry that I couldn't stay for the full event (I had other commitments), but it was nice to take part in the rally, I'm glad that the Dodgers did an event like this, and thankful that Merrill Bank Lynch of America sponsored it, even if the execution was a little flawed. We walked out with a Dodgers fleece blanket and a 50h anniversary pin. Leaving early also allowed me to witness this nutjob who parked smack dab in the middle of the aisle.
Maybe Bernie drives a PT Cruiser.