Took some family members to the game on Sunday, watching the Dodgers pick up a victory against the Washington Nationals, 3-1. I had forgotten how incredibly hot that Stadium can get for day games, and though my seats for this game would have been glorious any other evening, for a day game it was pretty unbearable. Beer, along with multiple cups of ice procured from the concession stands, was not enough to keep me from melting in those unshaded seats.
The good news about this season, however, is that even with a Dodger cap giveaway at the gates, there's no one at the Stadium! With announced attendance of just over 36,000 (I would guess it was more like 25K), there were plenty of shady seats on the field level to which my family and I could relocate, and enjoy a couple of rows with legs outstretched and bags on empty seats beside us. I'm not kidding; it was so empty (how empty was it?), I even got a AT&T cell phone signal from the stands. Consistently. So we hung out, sitting between third base and home underneath the ribbon scoreboard, enjoying the rest of the game (from the second inning onward) from the shade.
I had my son with me at this game, and he was a total trouper, asking lots of questions throughout the first four innings and admirably trying to make a dent in his four-foot tall carton of popcorn, before petering out for an inning (he hadn't napped) and then occupying himself quietly by watching Madagascar on the iPhone (which is why my from-game comments on the GT abruptly stopped in the later innings, btw). There was no squirming, no running up and down the aisles (he was a bit more antsy last year, at another non-Dodgers MLB park which will go nameless for now). He was great.
I was even more excited to have my son ask me even more questions later on that evening (after dinner at a friend's house). He recalled the score of the game, the color of the Nationals' uniforms, and other small details that I thought he had missed. We didn't stick around after Sunday's game to run the bases, due to other social engagements that evening; but I think next time he has definitely earned that privilege.
Sunday was a fun game to watch (from the shade especially), since the Dodgers' pitching staff was mechanically efficient past the first inning (13 Ks, no-hitting the Nationals after the first inning), including two big strikeouts and an 0-for-3 day from hirsute former Dodger Jayson Werth.
Matt Kemp's belly flop at home in the bottom of the first inning, scoring from first on a single, was awesome; the Bison seemed to pick up speed rounding third (coaxed on by third base coach Tim Wallach, smartly sending Kemp home), catching the Nationals by surprise (the throw beat Kemp but Jesus Flores dropped the ball, and Kemp avoided a tag anyway by sliding around Flores). And James Loney's almost-GIDP-turned-RBI seemed to satisfy both camps who either expected failure or wanted to see him succeed. The game was quick (2:46), the crowd was into Chad Billingsley's strong performance, and all in all, it was a pleasant day in the park. Just ask this guy, who caught up on some good reading:
I also had the opportunity to spend an inning with SoSG Dusty Baker and the Baker clan, up in the Loge level ($17 a seat was a steal for those seats!). We commiserated together over the lost 2011 season, drowning our sorrows in full-priced beer. Misery loves company, right?