The following is not a Guide entry, because I am still sifting through my notes on how one should best fully experience Angels Stadium in Anaheim. That said, Eric previously suggested that we could always use more content regarding my experiences on the road.
The “third” adventure of 2022: Back to the Big A
Prior to this trip, it would be fair to say that I have a complicated relationship with the Big A. Anaheim was the last stop on my original, ill-fated 0-8 #SaveEli trip. While the Dodgers had lost every single game, which was less than ideal, the games were still entertaining.
I might be an apostate if I admit the following statement, but here we go: sometimes, an entertaining loss is more enjoyable than a blowout victory, especially if you are at the ballpark. Games that go back and forth have a tension that is utterly intoxicating. Blowouts tend to deflate the tension, unless the other team fights back, which is often easier said than done. Plus, if you are at home and the Dodgers start losing badly - be honest, you change the channel and do something else. We all do that! When you are at the ballpark, you do not have that luxury.
Last year in Anaheim, I was harassed while watching the Dodgers fall all over themselves in a 9-2 loss in a stadium that was not taking COVID precautions seriously. The culmination of all the losing, and watching Dustin May be injured for the year, was enough for me to take a break from Dodgers’ baseball and swear off ever returning to Angels Stadium. But when my friend and his wife stated they were free to do a game at the Big A this past Friday, what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t go?
July 15, 2022 - Deja vu all over again.
Clayton Kershaw was perfect for seven innings in a start I was fortunate enough to attend. Again. If that sentence sounds familiar, it should, because I wrote that exact sentence about three months ago when trying to keep myself warm in the confines of Minneapolis.
My friends and I were sitting in the upper deck of Angels Stadium, as ticket prices for this series were generally absurd. We were in the sun for a bit but we had a bird’s eye view of the action, as you can see.
How does it feel to be a perfect game bid? Honestly, the first time was a surprise, because Kershaw managed to give me quasi-PTSD in 2021 by how bad he generally was when we coincided. If you told me prior to his 2022 signing with the Dodgers that Kershaw would nearly be perfect twice and I would be present both times, I would laugh at you and say go play a video game. This time, Kershaw’s brilliance felt almost routine - like the good old days. As previously discussed, I have been fortunate enough to be at some of Kershaw’s most dominant, non-no-hitter outings.
It was quite evident from early on that the Angels had no answer for Kershaw. Around the second inning, I was cracking wise on Twitter that Kershaw finally completed “Michael’s perfect game.” What differentiated this outing from Minneapolis was the quality of defense behind Kershaw. While Gavin Lux had himself quite a stop to preserve the perfecto bid in Minneapolis, Kershaw had two such web gems backing him up.
When I am at ballgames with friends, I am not taking as much footage as I do normally and I do not exclaim in shock very often. But I do not think I will ever forget the live reaction to Turner’s stop at third. I honestly did not believe that he could still move like that. It was absolutely stunning. Hanser Alberto had a heck of a stab.
And after Kershaw made Ohtani bend the knee in the seventh, there was this feeling that if it was going to happen, it was going to happen that night, right now. Kershaw was not going to be denied and I was going to be a witness to history.
Nope. Denied in the eighth - again. At least, it was not fatigue and snow this time.
Unlike Alex Vesia in Minneapolis, who did get an out when handed the baton, Kershaw’s bid was thwarted at the top of the eighth inning. For the record, until that double, Clayton Kershaw had been literally perfect in my presence for fourteen straight innings. If anyone else braved that cold April day and also happened to be in Anaheim that night, I would love to hear it. Once again, the Dodgers ignored me on Twitter - again. Such is life.
For what it is worth, what you are hearing when the perfecto was broken up was my friend absolutely losing his mind, enraptured that the perfecto was broken up. I did not begrudge his reaction but I did (and do) not understand it because now the game is just a rout. Moreover, he was fortunate enough to be at the Reid Detmers’ no-hitter earlier in the year. It was still a marvelous performance ... until Reyes Moronta showed up. I kid though, as it was a fun night overall.
July 16, 2022 - Do not adjust your television.
So if you watched this game, your eyes were not deceiving you - that is indeed me on your television. I was not trying to have television end up on me. Yes, I was wearing home whites as a bit of cheek towards the fans of Anaheim. I pulled the same stunt in Arizona and I will likely do the same thing in San Diego.
Ultimately, I had tentative plans to be at this game with someone and those plans fell through. It happens. Ticket prices for where we were going to sit were absurd and I had no desire to sit in the upper deck again. As my plans were in flux, I was watching prices on the secondary market throughout the day and I had a rather dumb thought while annoyed that I was going to this game on my own: I was prepared to spend [redacted] over two tickets, so what is the harm in combining that number on one really good ticket. You can see where this thought ended up going.
In the interest of modesty, I will spare you how much I spent. It was easily the most expensive ticket I have ever bought, apart from last year’s World Series tickets that were refunded for obvious reasons. Saturday’s ticket was more expensive than the NLDS ticket in San Francisco. If there is a moral to this story: do not buy tickets when you are annoyed. And I have thoughts as to the premium seating in Anaheim, which I will share at a later date.
Would you sit in fancy seats like that again?
Probably. I have not learned any sort of lesson but I am not wealthy enough to pull this trick off every time. Moreover, I do not really want to. The last time I splurged on tickets in this way, I had fun in Chicago but I watched the Dodgers implode to the Cubs in spectacular fashion in the heart of 5-15. If anything I was stressed out until the Dodgers started winning big. The last time I had seats this good for any baseball game was for Tommy Kahnle’s rehab outing in Visalia, CA at the beginning of the season. That seat cost me $15.
It is impossible to describe how bizarre it is to watch a major league game from as close as I was. I felt as if I was trapped in a video game for the first couple of innings. This feeling intensified, especially when members of our community were texting me saying that they could see my left arm. And as the first two seats on my left were empty all night, I figured I might as well move over one and get in the frame. Because why not at that point, and an hour into the game’s telecast, I shifted over. And of course, I had to watch the telecast while preparing this essay. I had fun posing with Adric at various points.
It was odd watching myself enjoying the game and working on taking photographs with my phone. It was odd talking to other people in the section who I chatted with and they asked me “what do you mean you write for TrueBlueLA?”
Yes, yes, there was a game, the Dodgers beat their far inferior cousins down the road. Trea Turner went deep twice. Max Muncy (figuratively) murdered a baseball. To me, the story of the game was the fact I basically Truman Show’d myself.
Freddie Freeman forgot how to catch a pop fly. Urías absolutely shattered Ohtani’s bat.
I got very specific with heckling Angel players. Anyone can heckle, but most are lazy about it. But shouting “hey, you ruined everyone’s good time with that stupid double last night” or “get a haircut because your adolescence wants its ponytail back” is gold. If you listen closely to the telecast, you can hear me. When I got back to the hotel, I ended up making up dumb memes because why not.
There is plenty to say about why the Angels are so bad and have been so bad for so long. We will cover that topic together soon. But as for now, let us enjoy this All-Star break (which will be concluding by the time you read this essay) and reflect on how good these 2022 Dodgers have been. At 60-30, we are a long way from needing a pep talk. My next update will be in roughly two weeks' time when I share my field report from the increased elevation of Coors Field. See you then.