It's getting to the point that if I don't post these pictures now, they will likely become forgotten and possibly irrelevant, so I'm sneaking this in at least before the Dodgers start their next homestand. Back on May 5, the Dodgers dropped the second game at home to the Brewers, ending the Dodgers' streak of home series victories and dropping LA to a season-low five games below .500.
Things looked bleak. And even though it was a largely pleasant night at the Stadium for Mr. and Mrs. Sax (partially because we left after seeing the Dodgers piss away a key scoring opportunity, right before a five-run eighth inning by the Brewers put the game out of reach), there were enough signs around the stadium to illustrate the sad state of the team.
We hadn't gotten there all that early but the traffic to the game made the journey effortless. Which was probably because there wasn't much traffic at all; the 35,659 in attendance (63.7% full) marks Dodger Stadium's season low mark, even now. And remember, that attendance number marks tickets sold, not turnstile attendees, which had to be half that number. The place was, relative to what I've experienced the past couple of years, kind of a tomb.
Ominous sign number one came upon walking down the field level concourse, when even the staff of Canter's Deli decided to take the night off:
Field-level concession stands: closed. And Canter's wasn't the only one that wasn't open for business. I felt like I was in the Oakland Coliseum. What the heck was going on here?
This left Mr. and Mrs. Sax scurrying for other food options, so we decided to go for one of our favorite food items from last season: the Louisiana Hot Sausage. Ominous sign #2: This item is now gone from the menu, replaced by a Picante Dog which is not nearly as satisfying--basically a hot dog doused in tabasco sauce. Booooo. Not as good.
The game started ominously enough as well, with Chad Billingsley giving up four runs in the first, only to see the Dodgers come back with two in the bottom of the first, followed by four scoreless frames of ball. (It was an ominous sign as well to see a DiamondVision trailer of Gibson's home run and the words "against impossible odds..."--after the first inning--I mean, come on, we've got eight innings to play for pete's sake!)
The Dodgers inched back to 4-3 in the sixth off an improbable Garret Anderson RBI single, but that was as close as they got in that game, squandering a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh by Russell Martin--who advanced to second on a wild pitch with none out--but Ks from Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an IBB to James Loney, and a Casey Blake infield out ended all hope. And then, as I mentioned earlier, we left, keeping us from seeing the ensuing slaughter.
They ran the obligatory blooper reel, except that instead of MLB bloopers, it was a series of home videos. I'm not kidding you. Guys falling on treadmills, stupid Bob Saget-shit like that. Yet another ominous sign.
Somewhere in between innings, they celebrated Cinco De Mayo by having brilliantly colored Mexican dancers come down the field level aisles and do a dance, which was really well-received. I thought this was a nice touch, with the exception being watching some of these young children being kept up way past their bedtime, waiting to dance at the edge of the field level concourse as people walked by with fists full of $12 beers. You can see some of these kids in the first and third shots:
I should also add, before I start ranting, that I had a nice conversation with Dodgers VP of Public Relations Josh Rawitch, who was very kind to stop by and chat for a half-inning. I know he's PR, and I know he's paid to be positive. But Rawitch is one of those guys who loves what he does so much, that even when the team is blowing opportunities before our eyes, he's still got an optimistic outlook that is a little infectious. But who knows--with our seven-game win streak in hand, maybe he was right to be so positive all along.
Anyway, back to the ominous signs. The last ominous sign, sadly enough, was a pretty brutal fight on field level right behind home plate that caught the attention of most of the field level, loge level, and even the Dodger players. I've seen fights before at the Stadium, but usually not in the expensive $125+ seats. And this time, it seemed like it took an awful lot of time for security to get there and restore order.
Now, maybe this was Cinco De Mayo-related, and people had been drinking all day prior to the game in celebration. Maybe the small attendance levels meant more tickets were available for purchase, driving re-sale rates to cut-rate prices (I mean, if I was spending $125 for a ticket to a game, I wouldn't want to get thrown out and miss some of it). Maybe the Dodger security isn't taser-happy like other stadiums' staffs.
But this was the second game of the year in which an incident broke out near my field level seats, and there seems to be a trend here. I mean, the Dodgers still seem to have ushers at the backs of aisles, and I know they are trained to intervene and watch for unruly behavior and cut it off before it happens. Many SoSG readers have commented that there seems like fewer ushers around this year; I can't confirm or deny if this is the case.
But I can confirm that the tradition of the usher walking down the aisle to the bottom during the inning breaks, in order to look upward at the crowd and see what's going on, does not happen anymore. Maybe because there are fewer ushers. Maybe because that line that used to be painted on the ground of the field level, making sure standing room only people wouldn't congregate directly behind the last row of seats, is now gone and not enforced. And maybe it's correlated with what appears to be more and more people sneaking down into seats without consequence (which I don't necessarily mind, so long as they vacate the seats if the proper owners arrive, and they don't start fights and act irresponsibly while they're squatting).
All I know is, I've been at two games this year and both times it has gotten a little dangerous, and I sure as hell ain't causing the riot. There was a middle-aged woman seated next to us who told us that she had stopped taking her teenage daughter to games because it was too dangerous.
I have kids. I'd like to take them to Dodger Stadium. And I hope I can do so without fearing for our lives.
There were a lot of ominous signs around Dodger Stadium that Wednesday evening, and I hope the Dodgers' next homestand proves to have more winning and more peace in the crowd to complement the increase in bobblehead distribution rate. Let's be safe and sane, Dodger fans.
But at least Jenna Wolter probably had a good time, I suppose.