That has to be the “sun rises in east” headline of the week, right?
Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium … shouldn’t even be in the same discussion. It wouldn’t occur to me to compare them.
And I usually don’t write off of what other people have said, but Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times actually attempted to make a case for Angel Stadium. Yes. Over Dodger Stadium.
So, after cleaning up my chocolate-milk spit-take … I have two words (well, then, and some others) to contribute to the discussion:
That is the eight-lane highway that about 80 percent of the patrons at Angel Stadium can see behind the stadium in center and right fields.
Behind the fence at Dodger Stadium? Hills. Trees. Grass, for most of the year.
Angel Stadium never allows you to believe you have escaped the city for some little patch of rural splendor. Not with that elevated freeway out there.
Dodger Stadium? You could be out in the country somewhere … with tens of thousands of your best friends, of course.
It gets worse, in Anaheim. During the makeover there a few years back, the Angels constructed in center field a monstrosity — a faux bit of mountain scenery. It is a hideous mess of fake rock, trees and moss that is supposed to invoke … what? The Log Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm? The Matterhorn at Disneyland? It is an eyesore, and was from Day 1. I remember going in there for the first time, post-remodeling and saying, “what the …?”
This one just isn’t close. Never has been. And won’t be, unless the Angels get a stadium built in the Anaheim Hills. As opposed to the current locale, where you’re never out of sight of a major highway — the 57, or Katella or Orangewood or State College — or that plastic pile of junk in center field.
Oh, and Angel Stadium has that train station out behind center field, too. Nothing like a clackety-clackety train sound to make you think “national pastime!” The Dodgers have the Union gas station, but that is more a charming museum piece, now, than a visual pollution.
So, Plaschke is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. About which stadium is a better place to see a game.
Two mitigating concepts.
1. I understand the difficulties of writing multiple columns per week. It’s not easy to come up with a new idea that often and sell it hard. Even if you don’t really believe what you’re writing (which does happen, now and then). I’m thinking Plaschke wanted to write something ball-oriented and provocative, with the All-Star Game in Anaheim, and arguing that Angel Stadium is the better ballfield, well, people will talk. And mock. But they will talk, and that’s half the job-description of a columnist.
2. If we expand the definition of “better” to include aspects not about watching the game … then we have a discussion. Which is much of what Plaschke was aiming at, I believe … though it wasn’t played that way or led that way.
Lots of things around Dodger Stadium are difficult. When you are not in your seat in Dodger Stadium … then, yes, Angel Stadium can compete.
Dodger Stadium can be a nightmare to enter or exit, via car, and rigorous to walk around (all the stairs, and the climbs from one parking lot to another). The concession situation at Dodger Stadium always has been a problem, with long waits and often shabby food, the iconic Dodger Dog aside.
The crowds can be rougher, in Dodger Stadium, particularly in the pavilions. And just the idea of the McCourts turning a profit off your being in the yard … well, that has a crawling-skin feel to it, too.
Also, journalists like Plaschke spend most of their time in the press box, and in that regard Dodger Stadium also suffers. Those of us who have media credentials shouldn’t view a yard through the prism of the reporting experience, but it’s hard to winnow it out, and Angel Stadium is most certainly an easier day for the scribes.
The Anaheim press box is far larger, the dining room far more expansive. The clubhouses for the players are about 300 percent bigger, and it’s possible to turn around without bumping into some scowling player. The Dodger Stadium visitors clubhouse is particularly cramped and primitive. (Randy Johnson reportedly didn’t want to play for the Dodgers because of the clubhouse situation.)
But those are peripherals. They can be fixed. Maybe they will be, some day. Now that we think about them, they should be.
When we get back to the basics … the layout of the stadium, the sweeping regularity of the pastel seating layout, the view from the seats, the view from outside the stadium (downtown Los Angeles, spectacularly lit up, at night) …
I don’t care if Dodger Stadium is the third-oldest park in baseball. I like it that way. Straight-forward but noble. Functional and not tricked up.
Then it’s no contest. Dodger Stadium. By a landslide.