Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At-Game Recap: Taking It From The Top (July 11, 2010)

I got nothing against the Top Deck.

The sightlines in Dodger Stadium's Top Deck are awesome; you still feel like you're closer than the top deck at Staples Center (and unlike at the Staples Center, at Dodger Stadium you still have a chance to catch a ball). The food fare isn't the best, but at least the lines aren't too long for the four or five menu items they do serve (it still would have been nice to have brought up some ice cream and picante dogs, but hey, it's their lost sale). The vertigo isn't all that bad walking down a flight of stairs with a full tray of beers and dogs, even if you have to hold your arms out fully extended so you can see every step down the staircase to your seat.

And on a special date with an ESPN-sponsored afternoon start time of 5p, the Dodgers / Cubs game Sunday was just too good to pass up. Weekend Dodger games are usually the witching hour for families with small kids; the 1p games are too hot and interfere with nap times, while the 7p games are too late and sometimes too cold for little ones to bear. But, like the three bears fairytale, a 5p game is just right.

So when my wife showed a shred of interest in attending Sunday's game, and I was able to ally with a good friend of mine (a Cubs fan) to bring his two young kids as well--I wasted no time in securing the tickets ($6/seat through Stubhub) and firing up the jalopy to go.

Which brings us--and in my case, me literally--to the top deck. The top deck isn't for rally monkeys or waterfall-encrusted rockpiles. It's not for fighting (that may have been all right on Saturday night, Elton, but not on Sunday afternoon). It's not for Bill Plaschke or Antonio Villaraigosa.

It's just for people who want to eat their Dodger Dogs in peace and watch the game unassaulted by roving souvenir vendors (omnipresent in the field level); if you really need something, there's the Top of the Park Store nearby. Not to insinuate that the Top Deck crowd won't drop some serious coin--I happened to follow a woman from my section into the store (I bought a shirt for my kid), and watched her spend $1100 in one fell swoop--but they don't need these distractions. They're there for the game. To cheer. To root root root for the Dodgers.

This Top Deck environment would have been perfect for my kids, with one exception: I selected seats in Row A. For an adult, being separated from one's view only by a railing and thin wire mesh is incredible; no one is in front of you, the perspective is incredible. For a child, being that close to a forty-foot drop to the Reserved level was simply terrifying to the young girls and dangerously intoxicating (like, moth-to-a-bugzapper-light) to the young boys.

If you're an adult, this view is awesome. If you're a four-year-old kid, that view is acrophobically scary. Here's the pre-game announcement of the 2010 Dodger All-Stars: Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal, and Hong-Chih Kuo.

Kuo gets up on the big screen. VR, SS.

So as a parent, I was on pins and needles trying to watch the game and maintain the safety of my kids all at once. Luckily for us, we had food to keep the kids occupied: Dodger dogs (1.5 innings), popcorn and kettle corn (1.5 innings), and malts (2 innings, since it was difficult to scoop at first). I was using the food options like a manager uses the bullpen arms, which got me into the fifth inning, at which point Vicente Padilla was still working on his no-hitter.

And then this left me with a tough decision. The kids were starting to melt down (we were two hours into the game by now, thanks to Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva's protesting some close calls at first base (from my vantage point, he had a point on at least one of them), and the Dodgers teeing off on his pitching, including a back-breaking first-inning three-run HR by James Loney (what is it about Loney and back-breaking HRs against the Cubs?). And of course, there's the no-hitter going on, which my friend recognized but our wives hadn't, and of course I didn't want to say that term to my wife in fear of jinxing Padilla's outing. (This didn't stop my friend from saying "no-hitter" a thousand times, of course--but more on karmic revenge later.)

Cubs fans, in the flesh. If you close your eyes you can almost hear the little one saying "Go Cubs Go!" ad infinitum.

The kids were hot and tired and a little bored by this stage of the game, and frankly, I was grateful that they had made it this deep. I appreciated the opportunity to have seen the Loney HR from the front row of the Top Deck, getting my kids to cheer along with me, and to have seen the Dodgers take a 7-0 lead into the later innings. So it was time for us to depart, to make the long trek back to the farthermost reaches of Lot 1, and head home as the sun set around Chavez Ravine. At least Charley Steiner could keep us company on the way home, right?

Oh yes, and about that karmic revenge. My Cubs-jersey-wearing friend got razzed pretty hard by the Dodger employees scanning tickets at the gate, inquiring to him about leaving early. It was sweet.

This was my first Dodgers victory I'd seen since Opening Day. It may have only been a bit more than five innings, but I'll take it. (After all, I did see all the scoring.) The kids, and the wife, loved this visit to the Stadium. So I'll bank that goodwill away until the next 5p start, when we'll be going back. As a family. Maybe even to the Top Deck again.

In Row B.


Fred's Brim said...

1100 biscuits? Damn. What did she buy?

Fred's Brim said...

I see Snooki and the Owl, but where are the bears?

Todd said...

I'd like to say thanks for being polite enough to not dump anything over the rail. From your pics it looks like we were right below you down on the Reserve Level.

Our seats are first row under the Top Deck and are on the brink of being full on "drip seats." At the Sunday Yankee game a guy in the row ahead of us got pelted with a full soda ice cubes and all.

Kyle Baker said...

So she spent $6 for a seat and $1100 on gear? Interesting priorities.

At least you stayed the requisite 5 innings to get the W for yourself before being pulled.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Top Deck is fun just for its raw simplicity.

Kyle Baker said...

Is EK going to do a video of those Cubs humping?

Kyle Baker said...

I like Top Deck for a reason similar to what MlASF just expressed. It's sometimes fun to go sit there on a nice day and just take in the whole thing the way one goes to the beach, puts out a towel, dons sunglasses, and just...well...is. The way one can't do when one is right in the thick of things on lower levels.

Alex Cora said...

The other thing about that front row on the top deck is that there are no cup holders and there really isn't any leg room for a normal sized adult. But the view is nice.

Robert Timm said...

Thanks for the recap. As one with kids (ages 4 & 6), I can certainly relate. I recently took the fam to Anaheim when the Dodgers where in town. Arrived in the 2nd inning due to enormous traffic, and left after the 5th due to kid boredom. Once the food was gone, it was all over - especially for a 7pm first pitch.

karina said...

Sax, I see you're a man of picante food. Nice!