Review: A Brewers Fan in L.A.
By Jay Sorgi
LOS ANGELES - This past week, my wife and I took a trip to Southern California for a much-needed vacation, and like our intrepid Gene Mueller, our vacation included baseball.
Not as much baseball as Gene and his son (one game each day of their 2009 trip), but a place Gene has never visited: Dodger Stadium, to watch the Brew Crew face the best team in baseball (record-wise at the time of the game), the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The moment you drove, and climbed...and climbed...and climbed the hills to get up to the hallowed grounds of Koufax, Drysdale, Cey and Gibson, you understood the traditions of that 47-year-old masterpiece of a ballpark.
Before you even see the turnstiles, Vin Scully's booming baritone (still as strong as ever in his 80's) comes over loudspeakers outside the stadium, uttering, "Welcome to Dodgertown. All are welcome. It's time for Dodgers baseball!"
(Suggestion for Brewers fans - bring your walkman to check out a rare treat for us in the Brew City - Vin Scully calling our beloved Brew Crew on radio..."twoooo and twooo to Ryan Braun.")
Next, you step through the turnstiles, and the smell of Dodger Dogs pervades. When you go to Dodger Stadium, it's required cuisine.
I certainly partook of the Chavez Ravine tradition, and though my taste buds and heart will always prefer a bratwurst with Secret Stadium Sauce, a Dodger Dog comes in a close second.
Then it's to our seats, which were on the 3rd deck - and much like Miller Park, the seating view from upper deck levels are fantastic, and not much more expensive that our own grand ballpark.
Our seats were along the third base line, and just $25 - surprisingly low for the second-largest market in Major League Baseball.
We got to our spot about a half hour before game time, and by the first pitch, many fans hadn't arrived at their seats.
It's often a thought that Dodgers fans are just fairweather, "Southern California-types" who go to the game to be seen, to socialize, and not to really watch the game. It's true that the celebs get their face time, like Henry "The Fonz" Winkler did at the game I attended, the 6-5 Brewers win that opened the series.
But there's one factor that most people don't realize: most Dodgers fans can't get to Chavez Ravine on time for the typical 7:00 p.m. first pitch, because of something that's a regular occurrence in L.A.: traffic jams.
For that reason, I don't blame the late-comers.
Still, what they miss, among other things, is the most beautiful view of any stadium, I would argue, in Major League Baseball.
What other stadium has a mountain range in its background? Uh, not Yankee, Fenway or that historic site-turned-broken-down 40,000-seat dive bar called Wrigley Field.
They also miss fantastic baseball with a squad that, as of this story, is certainly on a path to contend, if not win, the 2009 World Series, even if they didn't play like it for nine innings against Manny Parra and company.
The Chavez Ravine crowd was mainly quiet as the Brew Crew built a 6-1 lead until the Dodgers rallied for four runs - and it could have been worse until Trevor Hoffman induced a bases-loaded, 2-out pop-up by Manny Ramirez to produce the win in Mannywood.
But if your team gets blown out by the Dodgers, as the Brew Crew did the next night, 17-4, there's another rare treat to partake in.
You can go to the top deck and look at the awesome LA skyline, or the sunset over the Santa Monica Mountains - a good place to take a date for a secluded moment while the Dodgers fans celebrate.
The fans themselves were mostly wonderful to us, the antithesis of sports fans in big megapolises that make your life miserable, like some New York or Philadelphia bench-jockeyers or the stereotypical Bears fan.
Even those who were constantly on us, if you show them genuine respect, give you the same, like the batch of on-the-surface-arrogant-but-really-cool Dodgers fans who bumped into us a couple times in the concourses.
Certainly, for Brewers fans, it's easier to take the drive to Chicago, Minnesota or St. Louis to catch your team on the road.
But for a fun, rare experience that (besides the airfare) is surprisingly affordable, I recommend taking a 2010 journey to Chavez Ravine to catch the Brew Crew against the Dodgers, especially if the Brewers reign victorious.