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On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric: Added value for the would-be traveler in 2022

Or “What’s in a name, anyway? or “Where can you get the most value if you travel to see the Dodgers during the 2022 season.”

A Vista-shot of Dodger Stadium at Tour Time on September 13, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

Introduction

The question that I am most often asked—

What’s your name? Do we call you Michael or Eli? I’m just going to call you Eli/Michael!

That’s not the name you were born with! What’s wrong with Michael?!?

After being grouchy about it for half a day, and after having a cup of chili, I realized that the answer was literally staring me in the face. So, I’m nipping this question in the bud. I was Eli as a commenter, but I’m going to use Michael as a writer. A pen name only really works when you’re attempting anonymity anyway. The previous posts have been edited, and hopefully, my byline will be adjusted shortly. But with a slight edit, I think I can do a turn of phrase that won’t disrupt the flow of what I’m doing.

Join us for “On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric.”

Now, where was I?

The OTHER commonly asked question

Apart from what we just talked about, the other commonly asked question I’m asked (not counting “Should I get TSA Precheck?” – If you travel more than twice a year, yes, yes you should. Skipping that security line saves you time and energy and you get meme-mileage if only for you to reenact that walk that Elisabeth Moss did in Mad Men.)

Yeah, that’s the one. Or you can think of the classic song “Lowrider.” I’ve done both.

But the question for today, which is the topic of this essay is this:

“Eli, er Michael – if you were me and if you had your choice of going to any Dodgers game in 2022, which one would you go to?”

The general answer I have is that, if able, you should go to whatever game you’d like to that you are able to.

Eric is clearly paying for some solid writing here…1/12 of a pittance, you say?

Advice saying that “you should go to Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium” or spend thousands of dollars that you don’t have is about as helpful as it sounds. That’s not added value. I’m already worried that I come off as bragging when I’m not.

Wait…didn’t you admit that you bought potential 2021 Dodgers World Series tickets?

Sure did. Just potential Game 6 and Game 7 2021 World Series tickets at Dodgers Stadium.
Michael Elizondo

It was the best, yet weirdest purchase I have ever made. Sadly, the half-life on the enjoyment for said tickets was literally a day before the Dodgers were eliminated in Game 6 against Atlanta. #MookieAtTheBat. Then the tickets went poof and I got my money back two weeks later. I would have incurred some debt, but I would have made it work because I generally live within my means.

Disclaimers and the Obvious Answers to the Question

First, my point is that unless you are dying or have just won the lottery or are on some sort of a bender (disclaimer: TrueBlueLA, Vox Media, your mother (or another applicable parental unit), and I do not condone going a reckless bender of any kind - none of us can stop you, but I’m not going give you reasonable grounds to blame me either) it makes no sense to blow up any sort of budget that you might have just for an afternoon or evening of Dodgers baseball.

I try not to play the “I’m a lawyer” card very often, but in good conscience, I can’t recommend that people spend more than their means. I don’t mind if folks live vicariously through my travels though - that’s kind of why I’m getting paid now. But most folks aren’t going to be able to visit half of or all of the league following the Dodgers around due to a variety of reasons.

Second, the question misses the obvious answer: If you’re a Dodger fan, and you haven’t been to Dodger Stadium (be it ever or since they opened the new Centerfield Pavilion), you should go to whatever game you’d like at Dodger Stadium.

I’d share those photos and videos but the goal is to not cannibalize other entries in the Guide.

I would recommend picking a promotion day and going to town. I’m partial to bobbleheads myself. In fact, when I was a poor legal secretary, not even a law student even, that’s exactly what I did. I was maxed out on vacation time, so I took a day off, and I drove myself from near-Fresno to Los Angeles and back in an afternoon in April of 2012, in my old Mitsubishi Mirage. By some miracle, I made it over the Grapevine. I visited the Kogi food truck and relaxed in a nearby park by Dodger Stadium...

It was Friday Night Fireworks. I almost forgot I went to this game.
Michael Elizondo

Wait, something about this story seems familiar.

Woah, I completely forgot that Joe Kelly was the Cardinals starter. Chris Capuano started for the Dodgers. I remember that part because he didn’t last very long. I had never driven to Los Angeles before this outing. That adventure was quite literally ten years ago this April. The world was so much bigger then.

However, if you go to Dodger Stadium regularly (good for you) and there’s no novelty in going there (no judgment, I get it), and you have the same “where should I go?” question, then I have an alternate obvious answer. If you haven’t been to Oracle Park in San Francisco recently, then I would invite you to pick a Dodgers/Giants game to see the classic rivalry from the other perspective.

From the bleachers of Oracle Park. May 21, 2021
Michael Elizondo

Maybe I’m setting up a tease for the first true Guide entry.

The Added Value of Elsewhere

But if you’re looking for added value in the entirety of the 2022 calendar (assuming the owners don’t screw up the season), then allow me to explain my reasoning behind my actual answer if the obvious answers aren’t satisfactory to you. (And spoiler alert, expect this essay to be an ongoing annual feature of the Guide.)

As to added value, it’s best to think of it as a subjective range from 0 to 10, with zero being no added value and 10 being a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I freely admitted in the Introduction to the Guide that shenanigans tend to happen when I’m around. I declined to go to the almost perfecto by Max Scherzer because I was riding solo, I was in a mood, and it was hot. So I instead decided to work from my crummy motel room and ended up going to a laundromat. Then my phone blew up and I sulked for the rest of the afternoon - mostly because I couldn’t find a home jersey in my size.

To best explain my thinking, let’s use the #SaveEli year as an example when reviewing the calendar. As always, the proper GIF sets the tone.

Hindsight is 2020 (ha!), but when planning after the initial trip in 2021, there were two sets of series on the calendar in the regular season that really stood out to me on the calendar when I was planning, even with all the traveling of the original trip:

  • July 1-4 @Washington
  • July 5-8 @Miami

AND

  • September 3-5 @San Francisco
  • September 6-10 @St. Louis

D.C. and Miami

You’ll notice how I didn’t end up going to a game in DC. It was not for lack of desire to return to DC for Nationals Park is a lovely park that is easy to get to. I’ve spent the 4th in DC – and when the humidity cooperates, there’s no better place to watch fireworks anywhere than sitting at the Lincoln Memorial. And I would have had a front-row seat to absolute PR-immolation of Dave Roberts’ media credibility in the whole ongoing-Trevor Bauer fiasco.

But like I said, at the time I didn’t feel the need to go in 2021. But if I had the funds and inclination, I would have gone to a couple of games in DC and at least two in Miami.

The Lincoln Memorial on the 4th
Michael Elizondo

Now, as you may or may not recall, I went to a solitary game in Miami where I had to dodge a tropical storm all while being buzzed about a tornado warning, while racing there and back, before my movers arrived in Oakland in less than 48 hours. All in all…it was quite memorable. I do have thoughts as to loanDepot Park but all in good time.

Heck, if the Comments hadn’t vanished, I’d post where Eric wished me Godspeed when I was racing into the mess at the San Francisco International Airport as my final word on the topic.

San Francisco and St. Louis

The latter set of games in San Francisco and St. Louis is worth discussing because the first series was the last series between the Dodgers and the Giants in 2021 and it turned out there were actual playoff implications. Moreover, the series in St. Louis was a potential Wild Card preview, for those who were willing to concede that the Dodgers were not likely to win the Division but that would require an epic collapse on the part of San Diego. (Warning: Pittsburgh YouTuber attempting to rap. /hat tip for the content though. I’ll better introduce you to the work of UTree in a later article.)

Granted, my general rule, going forward, is that I don’t go to games in San Francisco unless I’m with friends and family because I’ve been to Oracle Park way too many times for there to be any novelty whatsoever. But I was with my family on September 4th and I just happened to catch two very memorable games in St. Louis…and a third where Dave Roberts decided to manage a Triple-AAA team for the afternoon in the midst of a pennant chase.

My main man, Tony Gonsolin, deserved better. (Mostly joking but I will always remember how there was one indignant commenter during the getaway game in that game thread. I was like “dude - you aren’t here - calm down, plus it’s a nice day and I was way too tired to get all that worked about it…as was the Dodger offense that day.)

“But Michael, I don’t want to go to Los Angeles or San Francisco!”

So if you decide to not do Dodger Stadium AND Oracle Park, but you still want to travel, we return to the original question: where is the (circus of) value?!

If I hadn’t already committed to naming my travel for 2022, there is one stretch of games in early May 2022 that scream added value:

  • May 6-May 8 - @Chicago (NL)
  • May 9-May 11 - @Pittsburgh

At the risk of cannibalizing the travelogue entries for both Chicago (NL) and Pittsburgh, let me provide you with a couple of tidbits for each locale to make my point.

Wrigley Field, May 5, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

Wrigley Field – it’s one of the two remaining jewel box stadiums in baseball with odd sightlines and architecture that you just can’t find anymore. If you’re just a baseball fan, it’s worth going to Wrigley purely for the baseball bucket list.

Adric before the rains on May 3, 2021
Michael Elizondo

And odds are, as of right now, the Cubs are going to be lousy in 2022, in theory, you should have a far better time baseball-wise than I did. But the Dodgers lined up Kershaw, Bauer, and Buehler and still got swept off the field...baseball!

Field Level, PNC Park, June 9, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

Pittsburgh – In my opinion, right now, PNC Park is the gem of MLB - at least of the places that I have visited. I love Dodger Stadium, to the point if I can have some of my ashes spread there when I die, I’m all for it. (That’s not a will!) I could and probably should gush about this ballpark. I won’t because I’m not going to cannibalize the Guide entry. The hype is very real. And the Pirates are likely going to be even worse than the Cubs in 2022. So you should have a blast.

Field Level. PNC Park. June 10, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

That said, if I had one ballgame left to go to in my life and I could pick when and where (and ensure that there’s no rain – for god's sake…three games with rain…), the first image that comes to mind is sitting in the 200 section of PNC Park (behind home plate) with a Pittsburgher (from Primanti Bros.) in my left hand and my phone in my right. Adric would be in the cupholder in front of me.

The Pitts-burgher from Primanti Bros. (add hot sauce - you’ll thank me later.)

Now, the write-ups for both entries of the Guide are going to be a lot of fun. But if you wanted to save some time now to start saving to do these sets of series back-to-back, you’d likely have one unique and amazing Dodgers’ experience to treasure for the rest of your days, if you based the decision on travel in 2022.

Going to Wrigley and PNC Park in May 2022 is where the added value is in the Dodgers’ 2022 regular season, in my humble opinion.