Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Mariners @ Angels

I headed on down to Anaheim to see the Angels play the Mariners last night. Here’s the report:

  • I bought these tickets mostly to see two teams I’d never seen, in a stadium I’d never seen. I had almost no vested interest in either team, except maybe a minor interest in the Mariners, because I lived in Seattle for four years and never saw them.
  • The drive to Anaheim took about an hour, and had its moments, but wasn’t horrible. It’s always nostalgic to be back on the I-5, where I spent a good chunk of my life in the mid to late 90s, except on the other end of the country.
  • Parking wasn’t hard, although it’s still weird to me to have to drive to a baseball game and then park. I’m still used to walking.
  • The outside of the stadium has two giant baseball caps suspended above the ground, maybe a hundred feet around. The front entrance to the park is very Disney, decorated in an overly esthetic manner. It’s not the typical brickyard ball park, but it doesn’t look like a generic cookiecutter stadium either.
  • I got inside, and my general impression is that Angels Stadium is a really nice old park. It was built in 1966, which is weird for me, because almost every park I’ve seen was built in the 90s or 00s, except for Yankee Stadium (which feels like it was built right after the Civil War), Dodger Stadium (which feels older than that), and McAffe (which is multi-sport hell.) But, because of rennovations, it doesn’t feel like a 42-year-old park at all.
  • Angels Stadium used to be a multi-sport arena, when the Rams played football here. After they left for St. Louis, they tore out the back wall again, and opened up the view to the mountains.
  • The stadium is not bad for food. There’s a lot of restaurants on the ground concourse, but the big attractions are the food places on the large patios outside of each base line. There are a bunch of kiosks and bigger open-air barbeque places. Add to that the palm trees and nice weather, and it’s a pretty cozy place to hang out before a game.
  • I had seats in section 349, which is the club level, back in front of the foul pole, in the front row, middle of the section. These were $40 seats, which I think weren’t bad for the price. (Although $50 at Coors Field gets you the same seats right at home plate. But at Dodger Stadium, $40 gets you seats in a strip mall five miles from the park.)
  • The club level was lined with doors that were entrances to the suite boxes, alternated with stairways that went down to the club sections. That meant all of the ushers in the section were exceedingly nice and friendly, and you saw a lot of the corporate suit types that were like the meta-ushers, helping out the box owners with finding a good place to service their lear jets or something.
  • As the stadium filled, there were lots of people wearing red. LOTS. It felt like I was back at IU again. One of my regrets about the Rockies is they have such a stupid color (purple) that they can never get people to pull this off.
  • Going into this game, the Mariners were the worst team in baseball, and were something like 30 games behind the Angels in the division. The story of the 2008 Mariners is pretty brutal: starting with a promoted bench coach for manager, an almost-complete coaching staff change, the dismissal of their general manager, another manager fired and replaced with a bench coach. Add a good list of players designated or released, and you have a team with a $117-million dollar payroll that’s facing possible sale in the near future. (And in a town that just lost their NBA basketball franchise to Oklahoma, that’s got to suck for a Seattle sports fan.)
  • And going into this game, the Angels have the best record in baseball, with their nearest divisional rival being over a dozen games back. What’s always weird to me is that the Angels have a huge local following, but they are not a national brand across the country. They’re probably the best baseball team that nobody gives a shit about.
  • Oh, and to add to the lineup, the Angels recently nabbed Mark Teixeira from the Braves, and he has been doing monster work at the plate, driving that lead in the division even higher.
  • The game started, and was boring as hell. Seattle up: three down. Angels up: three down. Seattle up: etc. It was like watching a minor league game. And since the Seattle team was basically the Tacoma AAA team plus Ichiro, it was a minor league game.
  • In the third, the Mariners managed to connect together five singles to drive in three runs. I almost had to check my ticket stub to see if I was at a National League game. It was deathly quiet for the whole half inning, and for some reason, I really started hoping the Mariners would pull it together for the game.
  • Then in the fifth inning, both Juan Rivera and Vlad Guerrero hit monster home runs, bringing in a total of four runs. The park has this fake mountainy thing in center field with fountains on it, and with each home run, they launched off a barrage of fireworks. They also shot them off in the national anthem, and at the end of the game. I guess Disney gets a bulk discount on fireworks.
  • I forgot to mention, the food in the club level wasn’t great. There was a big restaurant/bar/club just over from my section, with a patio, lots of glass, a nice bar, higher-end food. But everything was way out of my calorie range, and expensive. I ended up going to California Pizza Kitchen, which sucked.
  • There was another home run later in the game, I forget who, but more fireworks.
  • With the game down to the last out, Mark T (I can never spell his name) fucked up a completely pedestrian out at first base, by just dropping the ball out of his hand as he went to the base. Everyone was ready for the game to be over and more fireworks, but it was a total putz move. Not like they would have scored four more in a 2-out ninth, but man that sucked.
  • Last out. Final score: 7-3. More fireworks.
  • When I left my car, I noted to myself “it’s right in line with this huge pile of construction dirt outside of the parking lot.” I got outside and realized every parking space looked like it was in line with that pile of dirt, especially at night.
  • The drive was my first long(ish) trip with the Yaris and the ScanGauge. My mileage for the 40-mile drive: 43.5 MPG.

That’s it. I have one more game this Saturday, my 10th of the year, and probably my last. It’s Brewers@Dodgers; I want to see the Brewers win, but I’m pretty sick of seeing the Dodgers, especially at Chavez Landfill.

I will eventually get pictures posted – I am trying to redo all of my baseball pictures into one place, which I will probably finish in 2047.