October 2015

29 Halos in 29 Ballparks: Dodgertown, Halo Number Two, Dodger Stadium

Sunday, August 2, 2015, that was a day I left Halo number two in my seat; as I watched the Angels take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. My lovely cousin and one of her children were kind enough to accompany me into Dodger Stadium. She asked me not to wear red Angels’ paraphernalia in order not to stand out. So what did I do? I wore original blue Los Angeles Angels paraphernalia to blend in a little better and at the same time to support my team. That strategy seemed to work very well; most Dodgers’ fans had never seen the original Angels’ logo before. Some thought it was an alternate Dodgers logo, while others didn’t know what to make of it.

 

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Upon arriving to Dodger Stadium the very first visual impression was breathtaking. This Stadium sits atop of a hill overlooking a valley, it is quite a scenic view. One learns very quickly that it takes a long time to get in and out of Chavez ravine, but the time spent inside the ballpark is completely worth the sacrifice. We got there a little late due to traffic, by the time we arrived, someone had taken our seats. The Dodgers’ Guest Relations department was very accommodating. Rather than move the people from our seats, we were given upgraded seats; once everything was settled we ended up in the first row, field level, down the third-base line. Complementary food was included with our ticket.

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The very first thing one notices is that unlike other ball parks where walls are traditionally green, the walls at Dodger Stadium are blue, beginning the psychological warfare with visiting players and their fans; adding to the enchantment and mystique of the ballpark.

One thing that was very unique about the game was the between inning entertainment, something that I had only seen at a minor-league game, when the Salt Lake Bees played the Sacramento River Cats. A gentleman wearing a generic red hat, was given the opportunity to receive a free Dodgers’ hat, if he could guess the location of a ping-pong ball under one of three Dodger hats. In my humble opinion, this was the only thing that in my eyes that took away from the richness of the experience of the Dodger lore.

While we were sitting in our seats, I was able to have a very pleasant conversation with one of the Dodgers’ ball girls, #91 Danielle. This was definitely the most pleasant highlight of the entire experience at Dodger Stadium for obvious reasons.

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In both Angel Stadium and the Oakland Coliseum I was privileged to step onto the field, Dodger Stadium was not the exception. I am honored to say that I was able to continue that tradition by stepping on the field at Dodger Stadium.

Due to the fact that our seats were on the field, wheelchair access is only accessible through the halls of the clubhouse, exposing the rich tradition of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Access to the area was very restricted. The people that were waiting in the hall as we were leaving our seats appeared to be the players’ families.

 

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As far as the game, the good news was that even though we got there late, we were able to enjoy a lot of baseball because the game went into extra innings. Kole Calhoun hit a home run to left field in our direction causing a tie, making me and the rest of the Angels’ fans that were visiting explode with happiness. The bad news, the Angels lost the game 5-3, allowing the Dodgers to complete the sweep.

Overall my experience at Dodger Stadium was amazing, based on unique and unusual circumstances I was able to have an experience that I was not expecting; an experience, that I will unlikely repeat.

I visited Dodgertown, and given another opportunity I would be glad to visit Dodger Stadium again; this time however, it will be to watch my Angels win.

-ICE

29 Halos in 29 Ballparks: Oaktown Power, Halo Number One, The Oakland Coliseum

The beauty of baseball is indescribable. It is often referred to as “the thinking man’s game”. Each ballpark has its own unique feel, traditions, character, and environment, a unique aura that is not shared with any other ballpark in the major leagues. In an earlier entry, I stated that I would leave 29 Halos in 29 ballparks, is only fitting that I start with the Oakland Coliseum.

The Oakland Coliseum was the first ballpark that I had the opportunity to visit outside of Angel Stadium. It is a very unique ballpark, the last remaining ballpark in Major League Baseball that still is a shared facility with the NFL. I was very lucky to live near a ballpark in the Angels’ division during my college years. I tried to go to the Coliseum every time the Angels visited the Athletics. For the very first time and only time so far, I went to a game that the Angels weren’t participating, in that venue, the Athletics hosted the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Oakland Coliseum itself, is very accessible. The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) subway train has a station right outside the ballpark. It’s really nice to arrive without having to worry about paying for parking. Upon arriving at the station, one can already feel the green and gold soul that resides within the unique confines of that ballpark.

Upon entering the gates, one gets emerged in the pageantry of the ballpark whether it’s the sound of the bats during batting practice, and/or the drummers warming up in the left-field bleachers. The drummers are just regular fans that one day brought their drums into the ballpark and have been there ever since, supporting the team they love.

The ballpark itself is very accommodating; it is one of the few ballparks that I know of, where a wheelchair using patron can sit in the first level on the field. (As a result of a successful lawsuit by fans) and were one can sit with their companion for half of the regular price. I used to sit there all the time, in section 115 row 20, seats 20 and 21. I still have fond memories of the Oakland A’s’ Usher, Rodney, who would give me a hard time, but was also very fond of conversation. From what I understand, he is still there.

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The Oakland A’s fans are very passionate. As every baseball fan should be. I distinctly remember for the Angels’ games people would walk in with rally monkeys at the end of the stick hanging from a noose. The beautiful women of Oakland would walk into the ballpark wearing devil horns, and the kids would shout At the top of their lungs, “let’s go Oakland!”

As an Angels’ fan I was very lucky and spoiled to have the experience that I had in that beautiful ballpark. I was able to see the Angels clinch the American League West championship in two consecutive years, 2004 and 2005. In 2005, I met the Angels current owner, Arturo Moreno the very night the Angels clinched the division title. A fond memory that I still carry with me today.

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Eight years have passed since I left the Bay Area, however I still hold the Oakland Coliseum very close to my heart. I hope that I will one day be back to once again partake in the beauty of Oaktown Power.

-ICE

Songs of the Baseball Season

Baseball is full of tradition, from singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch to the Phillie Phanatic, and everything in between. New traditions are established: such as the Presidents’ race in Washington D. C. leaving the Nationals’ fans asking themselves, “when is Teddy Roosevelt going to win a race?”

Other teams such as the Angels are trying to build questionable traditions such as singing “Build me up Buttercup” by the Foundations during the seventh inning stretch, similar to the way the Boston Red Sox use to sing “Tessie” and now sing “Sweet Caroline”.

I have several quarrels with “Build Me up Buttercup”, first and foremost, the song is one of disillusionment, the singer is complaining about being let down by the girl that he is interested in. Although this is a catchy tune, I don’t believe this song is appropriate to fire up a crowd as big as 45,000 people. The Los Angeles Dodgers use “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey which seems appropriate for the moment.

However, “Build Me up Buttercup” is appropriate for how the Angels preformed this season. After a disastrous month of August, the Halos came roaring back in September, at one point they were victorious in seven games in a row. They ultimately fell short and were knocked out of postseason contention by the Texas Rangers, losing the game 9-2.

For many people the Angels’ season ended yesterday October 4. For me, the season ended in the top of the seventh inning in the game versus the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, September 30th. Mike Scioscia made a questionable move, replacing second baseman Johnny Giavotella who was a principal reason why the Angels had a 5-3 lead at the time, mainly because of the home run; in favor of Taylor Featherston who committed a costly error by mishandling and dropping the ball; a play that would’ve been routine for Johnny G. Featherston’s error allowed the Oakland Athletics to extend the inning, and in the end win the game 8-7.

Mike Scioscia has made many questionable decisions this season; he underutilized David Murphy in the Texas Rangers series, his reason for doing so? Matchups, according to Scioscia Murphy did not provide the appropriate matchup for left-handed pitching; however Murphy had an extraordinary average against such pitching. As a former Ranger, David Murphy is familiar with that ballpark, if Murphy was in the lineup, perhaps this entry would be discussing the upcoming Wild-Card game or reflecting on back to back American League West division titles.

The seven-game win streak built a fan base up, and bad managerial decisions by Mike Scioscia let us down. This begs the question: “why do you build us up Buttercup, just to let us down?”

One thing is clear however, Mike Scioscia needs to refine his decision-making skills because he is the primary reason why the Halos lost September 30th, and by extension he is a primary reason why the Angels are not making a postseason run this year. Yes, the injury to Houston Street was a big as far as the closers role. However, the effect is minimal compared to bad managerial decisions which Mike Scioscia is clearly guilty of.

It was not all doom and gloom however, for the first time in Angels’ history two players hit for at least 40 home runs; Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. I’m sure that both players would be more than willing to trade in those accomplishments in exchange for a World Series ring.

The off-season has officially begun, the Angels have officially hired a new General Manager Billy Eppler the Assistant General Manager from the New York Yankees. I will expand on his hiring as well as reflect on all season activities and personnel changes in future entries.

Which team will I be supporting on the road to the World Series now that the Angels are out? This is probably the easiest answer of all, I wholeheartedly will be supporting the Chicago Cubs, not only would it be wonderful to see their over 100 year drought end, but I would also be supporting a connection to the Angels in Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, who is a former member of the Angels’ coaching staff.

The post season is upon us, as for the Angels’ fan base, we will have to wait yet another year to put on our postseason Halo.

-ICE

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