How to enjoy a Dodger loss at the stadium

First of all, let me apologize to the Dodgers and their fans. The team rarely wins when Iím in the stands, but sometimes Iím just selfish, okay? There, Iíve said it. I knew that going to the stadium today would probably kill the Blue Crewís six-game winning streak (and 17 out of 18), but I just didnít care. Not enough to stay home anyway.

I hadnít seen them much this season, mainly because I live in Oak Park and I hate driving all the way across the Valley at rush hour to catch a seven oíclock start. Also because an evening at the ballpark has gotten pretty expensiveóvery expensive if you take your family, which I like to do, and if your kids feel itís their God-given right to sit in the field boxes.

Plus, up until recently, the team was pretty uninspiring. I donít mind seeing the Dodgers lose; they always do when Iím there, so Iíve gotten used to it. But I at least want to see some good baseball.

So today, with the team red hot and playing a day-game, and my work schedule curiously wide open, I invited my son to join me for a spontaneous trip to Chavez Ravine. Hate me if you must, but the Dodgers were up in the standings by three-and-a-half games; I figured one defeat wasnít going to ruin their season.

Needless to say, their streak is now history, and their play was pretty awful too. But should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, be advised that it is possible to have a perfectly fine time, as I did.

Hereís how:

1. Bring someone you hardly ever get a chance to talk to, either because heís 14 and thinks youíve been an adult all your life, or because heíd usually rather play video games than have a conversation. After a while you begin to feel almost like family.

2. Park outside the stadium. The walk is not much longer than it is from the parking lot, and the $10 fee you save will buy you most of a bag of peanuts. (NOTE: Donít park outside the Sunset Blvd. entrance, which closes during the game at least some of the time.)

3. Show up a little late. If the Dodgers are already losing 4-0 when you get there in the first inning, youíve pretty much avoided all the disappointment youíd be otherwise likely to face.

4. Buy your tickets from scalpers. Yep, thatís right. Theyíre mostly honorable and friendly; youíll have a much wider seat selection than you would have any other way; and if you donít show up before the first pitch (see Rule 3), youíll pay less than face value for any game thatís not a sellout.

5. Sit wherever you like. Loge tickets allow you access to any seat in the stadium (except those in the luxury boxes), and Dodger ushers, bless them, donít concern themselves with such matters. If youíre in someoneís seats, the late-comers will either ask you politely to move or theyíll find another place to sit.

6. Buy your guest whatever he wants to eat. The home teamís getting slaughtered; this isnít a time to quibble over health or finances.

7. Think of fun ways to pass the time, like guessing whether Julio Lugo will make solid contact at the plate before booting his next groundball (not today, twice), or whether the Dodgers will have more errors than extra-base hits (tie).

8. Chat freely with those around you. This is an excellent opportunity to delve into the mindset of alcoholics and the unemployed.

9. When thereís little worth watching on the field, check out the various scoreboards. Thereís more visual information on display at Dodger Stadium than at Times Square on New Yearís Eve.

10. Leave early. Yes, itís tacky, but there is that traffic problem. The guideline here is, when Dodger position players start getting yanked from the game, itís probably a good time for you to go too.

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