Thursday, I visited what should now be called MLB Stadium at Chavez Ravine. The name on the ballpark is still Dodger Stadium, but a change is in order after Major League Baseball took over the Dodgers from Frank McCourt.
Availing myself of our many colorful public amenities, I took the Blue Bus to Wilshire Boulevard, then the Red Bus to the Western Avenue Metro station where I caught the Purple Line subway to Union Station. There I met my friend Tony Finizza, who had just emerged from Gate 12 after his Amtrak ride from Orange County. We boarded the shuttle to the stadium; bought big Dodger Dogs and large beers and settled into the excellent seats Tony had obtained behind the Atlanta Braves dugout.
The stadium has always been an important stop in the many years I’ve wasted watching sports events. There have been great ones —my first World Series, playoff games, beer, friends, and harmless, mindless days. Through it all, I’ve never completely given my heart to the Dodgers. When Kirk Gibson crushed the A’s with his 1988 World Series home run, I had a bad feeling in my gut that Oakland, my hometown’s team, was doomed. I still feel bad about it. I am probably the only person in the Southland who feels that way.
The stadium also has great allure for me as student of the political fix. Its construction was one of the greatest fixes in Los Angeles history, a brilliant collaboration between Dodger owner Walter O’Malley, City Hall and the Los Angeles Times, with its slanted political coverage. If Walter had been alive and running the Dodgers, instead of his son Peter, the fix would have been in again and a football stadium would have been built next to a refurbished baseball park. The O’Malleys would have been richer and we wouldn’t have had McCourt.
All that open space around the stadium cries out for development. A friend who was then a City Hall aide and I used to fantasize about it during slow innings. We’d ring the fringes of the parking lot with condos—Stadium Gardens. We’d put restaurants, bars and shops all around the ballpark. You couldn’t get out without surrendering to the temptation of buying a drink or a meal. We had the vision, but not the money.
McCourt had a similar vision but he and his wife Jamie couldn’t resist the temptation of becoming high spending, flashy LA big shots. As has happened to so many like them, their story has become one of broken dreams and the sudden shock of no longer being able to get a good table.
Enough of broken dreams. The game was great. After Matt Kemp won it with a homerun, scoring Andre Ethier, Tony and I high fived like mad with the two nice guys seated in front of us Then we rode the shuttle back to Union Station and joined our wives for dinner at Traxx. Tony’s wife Carol had no trouble getting us a good table.