We took our first trip to Chavez Ravine (we forgot our non-telephonic camera, sadly) this Saturday evening to see the Major League-best Dodgers take on Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. Some observations:
- Most diverse crowd I have ever seen at a ballgame. We sat in the upper deck, reserve seats. $19, and a great view, sight lines nearly perfect. The crowd lives up to its reputation of LA insouciance: relaxed, intermittenly paying attention, truly enjoying themselves. A very nice atmosphere.
- Even understanding tendentious history of Chavez Ravine and eminent domain, the site and park are beautiful. Clean, situated in lovely fashion, with sunset views of the San Gabriel mountains as the game wore on. The most beautiful professional baseball park I have been to that sits outside a downtown. And during the approach to the stadium and at the plateau for the upper decks, you get full views towards sparkling (or smoggy, depending on the time of day) Los Angeles.
- The stadium is segregated by ticket type, even more so than Yankee Stadium. We sat in the upper deck reserves, and there was no way to go anywhere else, even if we wanted to bowl over a security guard. We could have base-jumped, I suppose. The upper sections are separated completely (not by barricade or fence, but by air and space) from the lowers. Yankee Stadium seems positively democratic by comparison. Chatter around the park was that the Dodgers are interested in renovating and changing this, which would be welcome. It is really quite shameful that you can't move around.
- We didn't sample much food other than what we had for dinner, this was no culinary expedition (that was left to an earlier evening and a Top Chef Master - thanks to Ludo for a genius meal and good conversation, the wine provided by a tastemaster). The grilled Dodger Dogs were fantastic, the Gordon Biersch garlic fries even better. Despite a decent crowd they were able to serve them to us fresh, crisp, and covered in garlic. The bagged peanuts were generic, oversalted, dry. With a bottle of water dinner ran $16.
- Felix Hernandez is very impressive in person, even from the top shelf of the stadium.
- The Mariners lineup is not, despite their win. Oh, except for Ichiro, who put on a display. Though he also dropped an easy fly ball (channelling Luis Castillo, almost!).
- We get to say we saw Ken Griffey Jr. hit a homer in person, something that we weren't able to do up until this weekend, and something on which we thought we'd miss out.
- In the fifth inning there was a video tribute to Fernando Valenzuela, who was in the house. A treat to see him and also the highlights. The crowd went nuts (as nuts as LA fans go, that is) for Fernando.