Saturday, August 24, 2019

Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Dodgers - August 21/22, 2019

One of my many idiotic quests is to see the Toronto Blue Jays in every active major league ballpark. I really do enjoy cheering on my team, but this year's edition has been pretty awful. I got lucky with a sweep in Oakland and saw a win against woeful Detroit, but this three-game set against the best team in the National League was not promising. As they only play at National League stadiums every six years, I did not want to wait until 2025 to see them again at Dodger Stadium, so I booked the trip, fully expecting a sweep. I even skipped the first game to stop in Vegas for the Aviators, which turned out to be a good decision as Toronto lost 16-3. The next day, Sharpy and I flew to LA and after a stop at my favourite place in the world (the In-N-Out by LAX), we headed to our hotel next to the stadium. The last time I visited here was 2010, and my camera battery had died, so there were no pictures. I will rectify that in this post.

We stayed at the Super 8 at the corner of Sunset and Vin Scully Blvd., from where you can just walk up the hill to the ballpark. Prices aren't cheap, especially for a Super 8, but I used points. If you are driving, you should be able to find free parking on Sunset or elsewhere to avoid the massive jam coming out of the lots after the game. There's also public transit from downtown, and after the game, you can walk back to Sunset and find a spot to wait out the traffic. Note that the address of the stadium is 1000 Vin Scully Avenue, named for their iconic announcer who retired in 2016 after 67 years with the team.

As we walked in past Sunset Gate and up through the parking lot, we passed these old-time ticket windows, which do say Go! Dodgers when you are facing them head-on. With hard tickets no longer printed in advance, these relics only serve as a reminder of the storied past.

We eventually arrived at the Club level entrance (above). From there, you take an outdoor escalator to get to the Reserve Level and the Top Deck.

The stadium is 9 stories high, so that Top Deck is far away, as you can see below.

Still, you'll want to make your way up to both levels, as there are things to see outside the gates at both. For example, at the Reserve Entrance above Left Field, there is a statue of Jackie Robinson sliding.

Moving on up to the Top Deck entrance, you find the retired numbers with descriptions of the players who are so honoured. That's Roy Campanella's #39 below.

There are also a few giant bobbleheads here. The one below has a Brooklyn cap; although the Dodgers left in 1958 they do maintain a sense of their history in Brooklyn.

There are six levels of seating here, starting with the Top Deck and moving down through Reserve, Club, Loge, Field, and Dugout. The club level is quite small, and mostly suites these days, though there are some original seats still in place well down the lines.

Each level is a different colour that represents LA in some way. The Top Deck is blue for the sky, the reserve is a green for the area around the stadium, the orange in the loge evokes the sandy beaches, and the yellow field level is for the sun. The dugout seats were added after the 2004 season, with that blue reminiscent of the Pacific Ocean.

There are also two outfield pavilions that are not accessible from the main structure.

The stadium is perfectly symmetrical, all the way down to the scoreboards above each pavilion.

The reserve section is the largest, with 19,000 seats, over a third of the 56,000 capacity. That number is fixed, so if new seats are added, then other seats must be removed, so as to not have more fans annoying the neighbors.

The picture below is taken from the farthest point above right field on the reserve level. Amazingly, fans were sitting here an hour before the game.

From a similar spot, but looking down at the pavilions.

Around the first base side of the top deck, you can look out at the LA skyline. This shows that the stadium isn't that far from downtown at all.

There is also a lot of history around the Top Deck. Along the walls beside two restrooms across from the team store you can find posters honouring every Dodger All-Star by position. Interesting to see how All-Star selections have been devalued over the years.

Nearby is a collection of old signs and the original seats.

A similar display has giant copies of old hard tickets. A shame that these are no longer available, but hey, enjoy your printouts everyone.

Each restroom has a painting at the entrance commemorating some sort of stadium anniversary or other event. Notice how the seat colours are different in the one below.

For the first game, we ended up with loge seats in Section 104, almost behind the plate. One thing to note is that the Dodgers have 7 different types of games from 7-Star down to 1-Star (both Jays games were 3-Star affairs), and then about 50 different price points per game, depending on level, section, and even row. I think face for these was about $80, we paid $55, still way too much. But hey, once in a lifetime and all that.

One sad note about these seats: they are one section away from where a woman was struck by a foul ball last August. She died 3 days later, but the Dodgers never publicized the news. Only when the family contacted ESPN in December did it become public, but even then, it wasn't widely broadcast. Dodger Stadium is unique in its setup in that the sections are not as steep down below and the ball can enter the lower rows of the loge very quickly. We had a couple of balls land in our row (L) and if you weren't paying attention, you could easily get hit. The lesson, as always, is watch the game and if you are concerned about your location, move somewhere farther away.

On the morning of the second game, we took the stadium tour, which cost $20. This allows access to both the press box level and the club level, neither of which are available to regular ticket holders during game time. This gave me the opportunity to take pictures of the empty stadium, as well as to see a lot of very interesting memorabilia. The pictures above and below are from behind home plate in the top deck, which is where the tour started. Again, the symmetry is obvious.

Down on the field, they were filming a commercial with Clayton Kershaw. It was interesting to watch all the work necessary just for one take; seemed like 15-20 minutes at least for maybe 2 seconds of footage.

The next few photos are from the press level and the club level.

The Dodgers nickname comes from Trolley Dodgers, the name given to the fans who had to avoid trolley cars around Ebbets Field. The painting above captures that quite nicely.

The team has gone through many uniform iterations over their long history (they first played in 1890) and all of these are shown on two walls. As you can see above, the team did wear green for a single year back in 1937.

More ticket memorabilia. Again, why stop giving out hard tickets when they can serve as such a simple souvenir. Oh that's right. So people can BUY a souvenir instead.

The last plate used at Ebbets Field and the first at Dodger Stadium.

The MVP awards that have been won by Dodgers. Silver Sluggers, Cy Youngs, and Gold Gloves are also on display here, but you'll have to shell out the $20 to see them as I did not take pictures of everything. There's also an entire section dedicated to Vin Scully that is very well done.

Jerseys of all Hall of Famers are also shown, along with pictures and a description of the career achievements. I wish we had more time to read everything here, but the tour lasts just over an hour and you are shuttled from one room to the next fairly quickly.

Finally, the most important part - the two World Series trophies. The Dodgers have won 6 titles in their history but until 1967, only bats were given to commemorate the achievement. Bats are still awarded, so the Dodgers have 6 of those but only two trophies.

We did get down to field level, but were not allowed in the dugout due to the commercial being filmed. Kershaw was on the scoreboard though, with Hankook, the commercial's sponsor, on the fence.

Looking back through the dugout seats, which have tables to rest your food and drink on. Few if any who sit here would bother to score the game I would guess. Sitting this far down this low is a terrible angle for baseball, but people will pay several hundred dollars for the chance to say they sat in these seats.

The tour turned out to be fantastic and well worth the cost. I love seeing the past honoured like this, and awards and trophies are the ultimate accomplishment for players and teams and it is rare that you can see so many at one time. They should be on display at every ballpark, so that every fan can see them. If you are in LA for an extended period, take the tour, you will not regret it.

The Games

Needless to say, the Jays lost both, but at least they were good games. In the first, Rowdy Tellez hit a homer to tie the game at 1 in the top of the 9th, only to have Max Muncy win it in the bottom of the 10th with a solo shot of his own.

In the second game, for which we sat down low (view above), the Jays held a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th. The only hit they had given up was a weak single by pitcher Kenta Maeda.

Of course, Ken Giles was on paternity leave, so Derek Law was called on to get the save, and after walking Muncy and getting Justin Turner to line out, he gave up two doubles that tied that game and a single to Kike Hernandez (on his bobblehead night no less) that sent me red-eyed to my red-eye. I barely made that flight due to traffic at the airport, but reached home in NYC a mere 9 hours after leaving Dodger Stadium.


I still have to see the Jays in Seattle's T-Mobile Park (I skipped the weekend series as I figured more losses were likely and I was mostly right as they went 1-2) and Washington, where I was rained out in 2015. As well, next year Texas opens a new ballpark and with the schedule already out, I know I will be there in May to see the Jays in the new stadium.

Next Up

A short trip to Pittsburgh at the end of September to see four sports in just over 24 hours (Pirates, Panthers, Penguins, and Riverhounds ruining the alliteration). After that, I will head to Eastern Canada to see 3 QMJHL games in 3 provinces in early November, thereby completing my quest to see a game in all 10 Canadian provinces. As always, check back for recaps.



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