Just a word of warning on the intro paragraph - this might get a little graphic heavy, so apologize in advance to those with a slower connection.
I came by about a month ago to ask the locals about Dodger Stadium, and Los Angeles, and after a little coaxing, and an inadvertent rub (which I apologize for), you guys gave me some great ideas on what to do in your fair city. So for all of your help, I humbly thank you all for your great suggestions.
So a week ago, I embarked on a journey to knock out three baseball parks in one trip on my ongoing quest to eventually visit all the Major League Ballparks. I planned my trip so that I would catch the last game of a three-game set between the St. Louis Cardinals, and the LA Dodgers. The following day would involve driving down the highway to watch the Angels start a homestand, but none of you guys here care about the Angels, I take it.
Anyway, the game I went to was this past Sunday's - bear with my ambivalence to your minor league system, but apparently I was on the cusp of witnessing something special with the debut of Clayton Kershaw. A quick glance prior to my trip at his minor league numbers, and his alarming strike-out/inning rate led me to realize that this was definitely a guy that most dedicated fans must have been looking forward to seeing.
Obligatory outside shots:
And the obligatory field shot:
It's always a weird feeling when I visit a new park, because especially with another NL park like Dodger Stadium, where I've seen the place on television when my Braves have battled with the Dodgers, but now I was walking in it, in person. I took my sweet time walking around the entire park, and taking in all the angles of the place - without question it's easy to say that I liked it very much. Felt very much, old school, narrow walkways, kind of cramped seats, but lots of places to get a good view of the action.
I couldn't resist. I know, a lot of Dodgers fans are probably bitter at the results of 'ol Andruw Jones, but many in Atlanta still have a soft spot for the guy who gave us many good memories throughout the last 11 years prior. Please refrain from the "you can have him back" comments, because sadly, we wouldn't - not the way he is now. Cue fat jokes, low BA/SLG/OPS/etc...
The bullpen shot - I was looking for Chan Ho Park. I love that guy. He signed a ball for me in Atlanta earlier this season when I singled him out and endlessly yelled out for him.
Mr. Juan Pierre - it's nice to see a guy like him throw a ball into the stands in between every inning, and give the fans that moment of hope that they can get a piece of the live game to take home with them. I like the guy, and I was glad to see his game-winning run in the 10th inning.
Clearly, Eric Gagné is still very popular in Los Angeles, or there are a lot of people who don't want to pay for another jersey. These were only two of seemingly hundreds of Gagné jerseys/shirts that I saw that day. But anyone who would come to Atlanta would likely see lots of JONES #25 as well, so I can't really say much more.
I'm not stupid, I was rooting for the Dodgers (when in Rome), but I am a fan of Albert Pujols.
The game itself was a solid, defensive game. Kershaw impressed from the get-go by opening up with a strikeout. And then getting hit off of by Albert Pujols is nothing to be ashamed of, especially for when the game was over, and Kershaw had seven K's. It's only a shame that he received no decision, but hey, a ND is better than an L any day of the week. Huge props to Ethier for the clutch walk-off hit in the 10th, because there is no more exciting way to see a game end than on a walk-off.
This seemed to be a reoccurring theme throughout all the games I went to in California. Granted, at least in your park, none of them made it onto the field, but I was amused time and time by the way people booed and cheered for the ball, especially the Phillies-fan-like booing for whenever a security guard snatched one and deflated it in front of everyone.
You'll have to bear with me here - palm trees to an East coaster like me are totally alien. Sure, I see them on television and in movies, and occasionally on my many trips to Las Vegas, but just seeing how abundant they are in LA, as well as just on the Dodger Stadium premises was always entertaining to me. And naturally, this is probably a shot that many of you guys see on a regular basis, but I did like the "THINK BLUE" out in the hills.
Getting out of Dodger Stadium was one of the most difficult experiences I've ever endured. Sure, I'm an out-of-towner, but it was a little frustrating being told to go one way by one attendant, and then getting told to go another by a different one. I also got yelled at by several Dodger fans for wearing a Braves hat, despite the fact that they weren't the opponent, but that's cool. I respect that Dodger fans come out (loyally, too), and quite literally create a sea of blue in the stands. Not like in Atlanta, that has fans that wear ALL the eras of team memorabilia that turn into one pukey mess of colors in the stands.
Either way, I made my way out, and I went to one of your most recommended...
Phillippe's. And a mighty fine recommendation, that I graciously appreciate from all of you folks. The sandwich was absolutely delicious, and the most surprising thing to me was:
The cost of it all. $0.70 lemonade? NINE cent coffee? And the sandwich alone was a steal; my previous trips to California had often resulted in high costs/sales tax, or whatnot, but this was a total bargain! The place was absolutely packed too.
Afterwards, I did a whole lot of aimless driving around. I picked up a map at a Ralph's, and I just headed west, from where Phillippe's was. It turns out that I ended up at:
Very nice, to the eyes of a tourist noob like me. I'd never been to before, and took a great deal of time walking down the beach, despite the chilly weather. (Is it really supposed to be 50s-60s in late May???) Definitely a place to bring the future ex, and not quite a place for a solo-traveling jock, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Got to see me one hell of a beautiful Pacific Ocean side sunset. I can't believe that this is something you folks out west get to see on a regular basis. There is nowhere on the East coast like this, to my knowledge, and I've been to many beaches out here...
I drove down the PCH through Manhattan Beach, and dined at a little Cuban restaurant named Versailles, before retiring for the evening.
As for some of your other suggestions, like Tommy's, I did try, and it was quite a tasty burger - definitely messy. I did do the whole Hollywood/Sunset Blvd. tourist walk the following day, but it's definitely something that a jock like me would do once to say he's done it, but then start thinking about the next baseball game.
Well that about does it for me. I hope you folks enjoyed my outsider's perspective of your awesome city, and experience at your great ballpark. And once again, I thank everyone who helped me out with suggestions and tips on things to do, because without your help, I wouldn't have discovered a lot of the great things I got to do.