Angels in the outfield

The last time I attended a major league baseball game at a park outside of my hometown Bay Area was way back in the early 1980s, when I caught a couple of games at Dodger Stadium during my days at Pepperdine University.

So, when I found myself headed for Anaheim at the beginning of this month — you’ve already read about that, haven’t you? — I thought it might be fun to check out a tilt at Angel Stadium, the home of the most ridiculously named team in professional sports, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (Most ridiculous, that is, next to my beloved Golden State Warriors, whose geographical designation makes them sound like a Division III collegiate squad from Colorado.)

Fortunately for me, the Angels were hosting the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon as I was bound for home. Online ticket in hand and Giants cap on my head, I joined the throng at the Big A (do they still call it the Big A?) for a dose of the national pastime in the southern California sun.

My impressions…

We Giants fans are totally getting ripped off on parking fees. Whenever I go to a game in San Francisco, it costs me $30 to stash my minivan in a lot two blocks from AT&T Park. In Anaheim, I paid a paltry eight bucks to park in a lot right on the property — close enough that with a decent tailwind, I could have hit the side of the stadium with a well-hurled baseball. The parking lot attendant enjoyed a good chuckle at my out-of-towner’s incredulity over how cheap the tariff was.

Angel Stadium is a pretty decent place to watch a game. It’s not as stunning as AT&T — then again, what is? — but it’s nicely designed, with good sightlines, easy accessibility, and a touch of character.

The Angel Stadium customer service staff gets an A for effort. I had no less than five polite, friendly folk pause unbidden to help direct me to my seat. And I wasn’t sitting all that far from the front entrance.

Angels fans, on the other hand, must be the least involved spectators anywhere. I was dumbfounded by how quiet the crowd was — and this was an exciting, high-scoring, come-from-behind victory for the home team. At both Bay Area parks, and especially at AT&T, you’ll hear a constant stream of individually self-directed chatter from the stands, aimed at the players on the field: “Let’s go, Giants!” “Throw strikes, Zito!” “Come on, Pablo, crank one!” That sort of thing. There was none of that in Anaheim. Oh, sure, the Angels fans clapped and cheered when a member of their team got a hit — Vladimir Guerrero’s two-run jack in the bottom of the fifth even yanked them from their seats — or made a good play. They made noise when the scoreboard operator cued them to do so (usually with a caption that read, “Make Noise!”). But they didn’t engage in the kind of random, freelance byplay to which I’m accustomed.

Everything you hear about SoCal physical culture is true. The petite female half of the couple seated next to me sported a prominent pair of mammary accessories that clearly reflected the talents of an expensive surgeon rather than the hand of Mother Nature. And she didn’t lack for company. Doc Hollywood must be making a fortune.

No matter where you go, ballpark concessions are exorbitantly overpriced. I didn’t eat anything during the game, but my lone Diet Pepsi set me back $5.25. I wanted a drink, not a seat at the stockholders’ meeting.

Tough to judge by one game, but the Angels look like a terrible defensive team. I’m mostly a National League aficionado, so I haven’t seen Anaheim play all that much. They were charged with two errors in this game, and a less charitable scorekeeper could have tagged them with a couple more. If that’s indicative of their usual play, it’s a good thing they can hit.

The Angels can definitely hit. See above.

That Rally Monkey is darned cute. I especially enjoyed the film vignettes played on the Angel Stadium scoreboard, which digitally incorporate the Anaheim mascot — a hyperactive capuchin monkey clad in a miniature Angels jersey — into clips from several popular motion pictures, including Shrek and Night at the Museum. I don’t get the connection between angels and monkeys, but somehow, it works. After the game, I hied myself into the nearest souvenir shop and bought my daughter a stuffed Rally Monkey. (I’m still angry about the ’02 World Series, though.)

You can’t make baseball any more convenient than the Angels do. Within a one-block drive of the stadium, I was on Interstate 5 and aimed for home. If only it was that easy to get in and out of China Basin post-game.

Anaheim is not in Los Angeles. Obvious, I know. But it deserves repeating.

Explore posts in the same categories: I Love the Giants, Listology, Sports Bar

2 Comments on “Angels in the outfield”

  1. Alan G. Says:

    Nicely put, Michael! And glad you enjoyed my new home team (formerly the Giants).

    We are more quiet. Speaking for myself, we’re all enigneers and thinkers. You see lots of people on the edge of their seats with the hamster-wheel turning in their head. We think that screaming constantly starts to get tedious and weakens the moments of real cheering. =)

    Beer is only $6, so I think we’re cheap on SOME things!

    The monkey came about in 2002 for some reason. Still not exactly sure, but it works!

    And no, we’re not usually prone to errors like that.

    Glad you enjoyed it! Now I need ot get up to 3co… er… the Stick… er… AT&T sometime!

  2. Harold Rosenthal Says:

    I have been going to the Big A for over 20 years and you mostly hit the nail on the head. Disney did an awesome job renovating the stadium when they owned the team. You did omit the Southern California tradition of arriving int the 3rd and leaving after the 7th inning stretch regardless of the score or situation. Things have surely changed there though. It used to be when I would go see my Yankees there would be more Yankee fans in the stadium than Angel fans. That changed with the playoff series in ’02. I was shocked to arrive and find mostly Angel Fans attending. It has been like that ever since. I am not sure where/when the rally monkey started (I think it was also in ’02) but it has become a staple there.

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