It was once one of the beautiful stadiums in the world without rival. It stood atop of a hill overlooking the City. It was a marvel of its time known as Chavez Ravine.
The view inside is still the same idyllic pastoral setting baseball of your childhood can provide. The 1960’s roof line of the outfield bleacher below the iconic scoreboard still stand and the Dodger Dogs are as good as ever before, with the mustard and onions to top off dinner at the ballpark. The legendary peanut man still throws bags to those who want to buy, but instead of the two attached small bags, there is only one larger filled with the roasted goodness as before.
The play on the field this past week was the team from Milwaukee that took the field against the ancestries of the old Brooklynites. The Brewers were the better team this week against the best the Dodgers could throw, including a Cy Young pitcher. Play on the field was superb. One play defensively stood out above all others. Aoki, replacing Hart who was replacing Ishikawa who was replacing Gamel who replaced Fielder at First, showed how everyone should play baseball in Right Field. With runners on First and Second base and one out, playing off the line in right, a loopy single dropped over the first baseman’s head. Kemp raced around third on his way to score at home. But rather than trying a throw to home, which probably only legendary arms like Clemente could make, Aoki took the ball off of the grass and ran it back into the infield, holding the runner at second. That was one of the deciding factors in the Brewer’s one run victory.
Martin Maldonado jumped into Big League action behind the plate for the Brewers, replacing George Kottaras who replaced Jonathan Lucroy, and noticeably took charge. At one time during his first game on Tuesday, when he got his first hit, he was paired with another rookie, pitcher Michael Fiers (who replaced Marco Estrada who replaced Chris Narvason as the fifth starter) making it one of the first times the battery mates were both making their Major League debuts. Fiers won. In his second game on Wednesday, Maldonado went out to the mound and put his arm around veteran pitcher Gallardo which appeared to settle Yovani down. On Thursday, he did the same with Zack Greinke. During this entire series, it looked like the Nashville Sounds were wearing Brewer uniforms. At shortstop, Edwin Maysonet replaced Cesar Izturis who replaced Gonzalez. Taylor Green replaced Hart who….you already know that long thread at First Base. Brooks Conrad was seen at Second, Shortstop and Third on occasion. In the end, you could see a rookie pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman and shortstop playing for the Crew. During this series, you really couldn’t tell the players without a program. One has to feel sorry for the Nashville Sound. Who are they playing with today?
But in L.A., that is only part of the game. The second part is the celebrity watching. Sharon Stone was there. Rob Reiner was in his customary seat just off of the screen in the second row on the aisle on the first base side. Harry Hamlin of ‘L.A. Law‘ fame was there. The owner of the Brewers, Mark Attanasio, was noticeable at every game (after all he lives in Los Angeles). He was ever present, behind the plate, behind the dugout, walking the aisles talking to fans (“Mark. Let’s bring home a Brewer win.” to which he responded “Let’s hope so.”), signing balls and shaking hands and visiting with friends. Jimmy Iovine, the talent dude of ‘American Idol‘ was there schmoozing with Attanasio. Remember, Attanasio’s son has a band. Iovine’s bigger role is that of Chairman of Interscope Geffin A&M Records. Suffice to say, there were more stars in the stands than in the heavens on these nights in the City of Angels.
In the end, the fans were the same. This is the third part of a ballgame at Dodger Stadium. They booed Braun over the favored Kemp. They replaced the words ‘home team’ for the ‘Dodgers’ in “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the Seventh Inning stretch. The ‘kiss cam’ caught a proposal in the grandstand as a fellow dropped to his knees and offered a ring to a young lady. (Yes. She accepted.) The crowd applauded wildly. You would have thought the Queen was celebrating an Anniversary or something. Vin Scully for the Dodgers and Bob Uecker for the Brewers made up the oldest announcing team in the game today. The young fellow on ‘kid cam’ danced like he was auditioning for ‘America Loves Dancing‘. All was right with the world if you were a Brewer fan.
Leaving this legendary ballpark each evening and flowing swiftly in and out of traffic brought memories of nights long ago in the back of my father’s car, furiously finishing up my scorecard and making all of the stats official. Those were the glorious days of few trials and fewer worries. And that’s really why baseball is so important in a person’s life. It allows you to escape the rigid confines of today, full of problems, apprehension and worry while remembering the wide open hope the future could bring.
Remarkably, on an evening at a ballpark of your choice, even Dodger Stadium, it can do the same today if you let it.