Last night was the kind of thing you always hoped would happen at some point. I was invited to a Nike event for local media types in which we’d go to Dodger Stadium and just see what happens. There was almost disaster on the way in. Apparently, some illegal marijuana dispensery was in a stand off with police at the bottom of Elysian Park, so there was no way into Chavez Ravine. You know the cats were armed because they had such a large perimeter set up. Unless it was Jet Li in there, no knife was getting flung way out there. These were guns, brah.
I found a way in and kicked it in the parking lot meeting some of the other people invited. Had a conversation with a Nike rep about Germany’s new style of soccer now that Michael Ballack was injured. Enjoyed the fact I could drink beer in my car before because there was no security staff in sight. Basically, this was already a new experience as far as Dodger Stadium goes.
We entered through centerfield to see the “wedding cake” view of the stands. It was beautiful. I admit, this was not my first experience on the field at the Ravine, but easily this would be the most intimate. With the Yankees coming into town for just their second meeting outside of the many World Series matchups between these two teams, the field was perfect. There was a quiet before the storm feeling to be sure.
There was a DJ on top of the Dodgers dugout spinning a lot of California themed music so the vibe was good. In the dugout, there were jerseys for everyone attending. I grabbed some Maker’s and just wandered around the field. I wanted to touch the dirt, the grass, the padded outfield walls, the scoreboards. I went in the Yankee dugout and made debated urinating all over it, but then realized that was super uncouth and I like Jeter so I just didn’t risk it. So Derek, if you are reading this, you’re welcome.
There was some euphoria when I got to sit in left field and drink whiskey in the short grass. The sky looks different from the outfield of a baseball diamond, especially one as grand as Dodger Stadium. I can’t believe I am sitting down here on the first wave of summer. I talk a little bit with some cool people. We talk about mutual friends and other pleasantries. I ate some Cracker Jack for the first time in a long time and compared my prize with another writer I deemed to be pretty cool.
Later, the Dodger team historian showed up and took us into the guts of the stadium. I have been into some of the places before, but this was the first time I ever was in the bullpen. I got the chills. Every pitcher dreams of hearing an epic song playing and sprinting out towards the pitchers mound. Man, writing this I regret not doing that. Maybe I would have looked silly, but who cares. Nothing could be sillier than drinking whiskey and running around the greatest building in the greatest city in the world.
If you have never been to Dodger Stadium or didn’t really pay attention on your last visit, you really should. It is stunning. It is the mid-century aesthetic at it’s finest. It is the same charm Disneyland has. It is the same thing that, perhaps ironically, is missing from Angel Stadium. In the strangest way, with the DJ playing beats thudding off the empty concrete enclosing us, with the ghostly lights, this could be the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. All we need is a jellybean pool and some electric lemonade. Well, I guess they had the lemonade.
I love those nights where you feel like a Californian. That might be my favorite part of going to the stadium. Only tonight, I had a new set of memories. Part of the thrill was how many of the people with me had never been on the field. People become little kids on baseball fields. They are magic. The experience is harrowing. The owner of Undefeated was there, a totally cool dude. I look forward to hanging with him at Game 3 on Sunday. I will do my best to remember the experience, but if the Dodgers don’t win before then I may need to hit the bottle like a home run in the ninth inning.
It made me excited about all I plan to do on this blog. I got to live out a childhood dream because I write this stuff everyday. It is great to be invited to events and to meet other people that keep punching the keyboard or snapping the pictures for some unknown reason. It felt like the big leagues.