I returned to the Stadium last night for my second Dodger game of the year, and one could feel the electricity in the air following MLB's decision to remove Frank McCourt as operator (if not yet technically removing him as owner) of the Dodgers. There weren't many people there, but the few that did show up did seem pretty happy. On top of that, Dodger fans were on their best behavior...probably due to the very visible presence of a new police state at the Stadium. But more on martial law later...
As for the team? Well, they certainly played inspired, scoring six runs for only the third time this season (in 19 games), and stoking a five-run lead for only the second time this year. With two runs in the first and three in the second chasing Derek Lowe (who lasted only three innings, giving up 5 ER and 9 H), it seemed like the Dodgers were playing with more vim and vigor, too.
And Jon Garland, who got shellacked for 5 ER and 9 H in four innings (a Lowe-esque performance, I suppose) in his first start, came out gunning on April 20, with a CG performance (1 ER, 2 Ks, 4 BB), cutting his ERA by more than half to 4.25. Gutty performance by Garland.
So the on-field activity was inspiring, and the scattered groups of fans were well-behaved. And the LAPD? They were everywhere:
Now, I mentioned that attendance was poor last night 29,473 announced, but fewer people than that in the ballpark. As such, The Dodgers Deli Formerly Known As Canter's was closed from the get-go.
So the alternative was to consume my first-ever Doyer Dog (chili, nacho cheese, onions, jalapenos, and tomatoes):
The Doyer Dog experience was...unfulfilling. The layer of nacho cheese lying under the wiener is bland, even with the onions and peppers. And the chili is pretty watery, more like Pink's than Carney's. I don't think I'll be getting one again.
The Dodgers appear to have recruited more ushers to work at the Stadium as well--there are two ushers in this shot alone--and I think they have been trying to staff every aisle at the end of every half-inning (as I recall they used to do back in the day).
So Garland was rolling, cops were overseeing, and Sax was thirsty. Rewind a couple of innings (this next picture is not chronologically ordered), when Sax went to go visit Mr. Customer and celebrate Liberation Day together. Prosit! It was a nice treat to see Mr. C again (after meeting him at SoSG Fest 2010 last year; from the look on Mr. Customer's face, he still has the same repertoire of facial expressions).
Thanks for grabbing a beer with me, Mr. Customer!
So all in all, a safe and subdued crowd and a pleasant and protected evening at Dodger Stadium. Walking out to the car with my wife, win (almost) safely in hand (Come on! It was a school night!), the lingering happiness in the air seemed like a burden had been lifted from the shoulders of the entire franchise, and all of its fans.
Or maybe that feeling was just the giddiness we had, seeing the RCMP on the way out. You know what stops boorish drunken misbehavior? Men mounted on horses. That's right. Hi ho, Silver! Away!