Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Two Things Dodger Stadium Does Right

Two different articles in today's newspapers made me realize that Dodger Stadium has a couple of nice new programs going for it, both of which are credits to the McCourt administration. Perhaps we take them for granted, or we're just so infuriated by this year's additions of God Bless America and Don't Stop Believing getting shoved down our throats like we're preparation for a foie gras meal. Either way, I wanted to pause to give credit where credit is due.

The first article was Steve Lopez' column in the LA Times about the All You Can Eat Pavilion over in right field. Lopez' piece is not revelatory, but it does a good job describing the face-stuffing mayhem and all the joy and heartburn that comes with it. Gluttonous? Sure. But a fun time, especially when the $25 tickets can be bought under face value on ebay? Not such a bad idea for a fun evening out:

One of the ushers told me she'd seen people eat themselves sick in right field, and when the ballgames are over, fans have been known to smuggle more peanuts and hot dogs past security and out of the stadium. There's no way to prevent it, one guard said, so they don't even try.

Despite my rush to judgment, I must say there's something exhilarating about the idea of living without self-control or the desire to develop any. When I saw Paul Galle lift his girth off the bleachers and head under the stands for refills, I noticed that he was smiling like a thief, as if he couldn't believe the Dodgers and Levy Restaurants, the stadium concessionaire, were foolish enough to let him plow through their buffet of saturated fat to his heart's content.

He said he was still hungry after two nachos, one popcorn, two bags of peanuts and eight hot dogs.

Eight hot dogs?

"Actually that's four double dogs," said Galle, who's in his 30s.

Next up is an article from today's New York Times about Yankee Stadium, and how fan contact with the players for a wave, let alone an autograph, is virtually impossible in the new ballpark:

The loss of these traditional access points has fans complaining of the further widening of the already huge gulf between those who make millions playing the game and the fans who support the team with their hearts, time and money.

Doug Geller, 52, of Flagtown, N.J., has amassed a large collection of autographs over his 24 years as a season-ticket holder and continues to show up early in the dimming hope of adding new signatures. Getting players’ autographs at the old Yankee Stadium “wasn’t easy, but it was easier,” he said. “Here, it’s impossible.”

Jason Zillo, a Yankees spokesman, said that players and fans were still adjusting to the new space and that the Yankees were making efforts to better connect players with fans. “Autographs are a part of that,” he said.

In the meantime, the complaints are growing. “The way they made the ballpark, they’re kind of hiding the players from the people,” said Louis DiLullo, who commutes to games from his home in Providence, R.I. “I don’t think the players realize these kids, when they’re 60 years old, remember getting that autograph. That’s how they become season-ticket holders.”

The Dodgers' Autograph Alley isn't perfect; I'm not sure if Matt Luke and Ken McMullen are equivalent proxies for the young fan who idolizes current players like James Loney and Matt Kemp. But the Dodgers are building a tradition of having its former players accessible to fans, as part of an overall effort to show appreciation for the love we give the Dodgers, and this is a very nice gesture (and Luke, McMullen, and all the Dodger greats who participate deserve a lot of credit for taking time to do this).

The Yankees, like the Dodgers, have developed a class system in their stadiums to segregate the rich from the poor based on ticket prices. However, unlike the Dodgers, the Yankees also appear that they've taken all access away from the plebian fan, while the Dodgers are investing in other efforts to reach out and provide opportunities for more personal touches.

Look, there are dozens of reasons why Dodger Stadium is a unique experience that is one of if not the best ballpark experience around. It's nice, as a Dodger fan, to have this sort of home-field advantage.


Alex Cora said...

I agree. I think getting autographs is a great thrill when they occur. Sure it might be Matt Luke or Bobby Castillo, but it is neat to have a part of that for your collection of Dodger memorabilia. Kudos to the Dodgers for setting this up.

Hong Like a Chih Kuo said...

Journey is from San Francisco. Journey should not be played at Dodger Stadium for any reason other than to mock the Giants in some way.

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

One of the best things they did last year was let fans with tickets in any section come in through the left-field gate early to see Dodger batting practice, though it was mainly guys like Danny Ardoin and Pablo Ozuna. Then as the Dodgers would go into the clubhouse, fans could try to get an autograph out of players going by. I don't know if they still do that; when I went to a game this season my seats were too cheap to get in at field level. I'm not sure if that's because of price-segregation or if I was too late or if they just don't let you in on day-games. But that's something I already miss.

rbnlaw said...

Things Dodger Stadium does right:
No rock formations or fountains in center field.
No fireworks after each player is announced or after each home run (although at the current rate, we wouldn't those much anyway).
The music for each batter is not played at ear-splitting decibels.
Two words: Nancy Bea.

rbnlaw said...

Should read, "Wouldn't see those much anyway."

I'm a little rushed to get out of the house.