I swore off of Dodger Stadium two years ago. The parking lots are miserable, there’s little to no charm and I have been harassed by fans (read: hooligans) more than I care to remember. I also don’t understand the appeal of Dodger Dogs. They are just extra large Farmer John hot dogs. Essentially the same thing anyone could get at any little league game across the country. Sorry, I just don’t get it. I broke that oath for Game 3 of the NLCS. What could go wrong? Jake Arrieta was pitching in California, where he has been utterly dominant over the previous two years, and at a ballpark where he threw a no-hitter. I took nothing for granted, but I also was hedging my bets on this one and broke my own rule.
The last time I was at Dodger Stadium a guy named Rich H. got lit up by a team wearing blue. I was hoping for history to repeat itself. It did, but not in the way I was expecting or hoping, but I’m guessing you know those gory details and I won’t waste time or emotional baggage on them. Instead, I want to address my Dodger Stadium experience, which, after talking to many other fans, seems fairly typical.
My brothers and I arrived at the ballpark a few hours before the game and slowly made our way to our section in the top deck. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised by the section. There was a spacious concourse with high bar tables scattered around and a nice view. My brothers enjoyed a beer (in the process becoming beer holders/hand models for some unknown publication) as we whiled away the time until the game. We headed to our seats relatively early due to the fact that I have mobility issues and don’t like being a spectacle or recipient of pity as I make my way to my seat.
We ended up sitting in the front row, which meant that–unlike some other ballparks I have visited– I had to walk down many very steep steps, rather than entering at the lowest level with the rest of the section above and behind. While not terribly comfortable or convenient, the trek to the seats was not the end of the world. As we waited for first pitch the seats around us started to fill up–as expected–with Dodger fans. While there were other Cub fans in the general vicinity, we were all scattered apart. No little pockets of Cubdom in our section.
Immediately sitting behind me was a gentleman who was very knowledgeable about baseball and more or less a decent guy until he met his neighbor, who was a loud, ignorant aggressor throughout the entire game.
My brothers and I sat fairly quiet during the entire game, only talking to each other in relatively quiet voice and not at all engaging with the people around us. This didn’t matter to the aggressor who spent the game screaming and making comments intending to infuriate us and get us to engage with him. We did not, but that didn’t stop him. In addition to his harassment of our group, he was adamant about getting a “wave” started. In the NLCS. The “wave” is never acceptable and certainly not in a game of this import, but I digress.
As the game ended my brothers and I stayed in our seats and let our section empty, again due to my slow speed and lack of mobility so I wouldn’t block or delay any other fans trying to exit. As our area cleared we recieved some empty platitudes of “good game” and “there’s still a lot of baseball to come,” which redeemed some of the fans around us, but, of course, nothing from the aggressor. I expected nothing less. As we were walking to our car there was a man in a Dodger jersey literally walking up and screaming in the faces of any Cubs fans he could find. Simple people and families who were just minding their own business. Seeing that left a terrible taste in my mouth. Fortunately we were able to avoid him and get to the car without further harassment.
What started as a promising redemption for Dodger Stadium ended as further damning of my least favorite ballpark that I have ever visited. The staff was friendly and helpful, but the all too common dealings with bad fans negated any goodwill that the staff earned. On the way home I went on Twitter to vent about my experiences and got many responses from fellow Cub fans who indicated that my experiences were not isolated incidents, which saddened me further.
Would my feelings be different if the Cubs had won 6-0? Maybe. Maybe that would have quieted the cocksure fan and their bullying…or maybe it would have made things worse. There is, after all, nothing more dangerous than someone with nothing to lose and this is the place where an opposing fan was beaten into a long term coma.
I do not condemn all Dodger fans. I have many friends who are fans and are civilized human beings. I’m not even saying that the bad fans make up a majority of the fanbase. Every team has their “bad fans.” Witness the idiot throwing a bottle of beer on the field at the Orioles in Toronto of all places. All I’m saying is that a majority of my experiences with Dodger Stadium have been tainted by bad fan interactions and I know I’m not the only one.
Hey future self, please remember this game the next time you think about visiting Dodger Stadium and remember one of the most miserable sports experiences of your life. I went into this game expecting very little and left receiving even less.