My friends and family were generally excited by my then-recent hiring to write for True Blue LA. In some cases, their enthusiasm is a bit more robust than when I graduated from law school or passed the California Bar Exam in one try. But I added this preliminary entry to the Guide on the advice of friends and family, because if they asked these questions, other folks would likely ask as well.
Plus, I can hardly resist the urge to pay homage to my favorite book series: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
What is the Guide?
It’s an audio-visual travelogue chronicling my adventures traveling watching Dodger games as I attempt to visit all 30 Major League Stadiums. I see you, Oakland. You stay put - I’m not going to Vegas. So help me...
But what IS it?!?
The problem is that you have never asked the proper question, hence the confusion. Maybe it requires some deep thought.
What makes it different from photos in a slide show in an old Kodak Carousel slide reel? No one likes a braggart.
That’s better! And I’m not bragging - apart from passing the California Bar in one go. #OneAndDone. What separates the Guide from a Facebook post where I just post the photos and videos I took while traveling is that I have a knack for planning and logistics that I will be sharing with you.
I am talented at coming up with plans to get from Point A to Point B in a timely, cost-efficient manner. Plus, I learned quite a bit on my adventures in 2021, but also in prior travels in the pre-pandemic era. If you do decide to travel to Dodger games, my hope is that the Guide serves as a starting point for your trip. As I think I have already done a lot of the basic work for you. Moreover, I leave you with five questions that the Guide will answer for you per city.
But then it occurred to me that someone might take the Guide as binding advice. So let’s put that notion to bed.
Obligatory Legal Disclaimers (that are likely not necessary, but you show me a non-paranoid lawyer, and I’ll show you a bad lawyer.)
I am an independent contractor, and as such, I am not an employee of Vox Media, TrueBlueLA, or Eric Stephen. The advice and suggestions that I provide do not create an attorney-client relationship in any conceivable fashion now or until my inevitable death. Now if you seek me out in California, outside of this Guide, that’s a different matter entirely, but for my own sanity, Michael-as-official-lawyer and Michael-as-baseball-writer, must not meet. Or that was the plan...(#foreshadowing)
The content of the Guide is provided for entertainment and informational purposes ONLY. Do not imbibe the Guide unless medically directed...and then find a new doctor, because you have one that is no good. The content of the Guide does not reflect the editorial opinion of Vox Media, TrueBlueLA, Eric Stephen, or anyone else responsible for overseeing my work. The views expressed herein are solely my responsibility and definitely my own.
The content of the Guide is not and should not be construed as any type of endorsement. I have not been compensated for the information in the Guide in any way apart from the meager pittance that I joke about that Eric (and by extension) and Vox Media pay me at 1/12th of a pittance a time. I mean, if folks want to start bribing me...(please don’t - although I do like money - as I use it to buy goods and services).
Do you feel better? Was that speech really necessary?
Yes, I feel much better. All my speeches are necessary...unless they aren’t.
The Five Questions that the Guide will answer...
Generally, the Guide will help you answer five questions that you need to know before traveling to the locations listed therein. These five questions guide my decision-making when going out on the road and they have served me well, while operating under the Moscow Rules, as both a world traveler and a Dodger fan in this role.
My mother made me promise before I left for Cambodia that I would come safely home to the United States. I promised to do so if it was in my earthly power; after all, I can’t control it if I get hit by a bus, which thankfully did not happen. (It was a cement truck - I thought I was going to die!)
Anyway, traveling is like mountain climbing: if you don’t make it back to where you came from - it doesn’t count! (Although, in traveling - if you do not come back, that fact might just mean that you moved.)
...But First, the Moscow Rules.
What are the Moscow Rules, you ask. Well, these unwritten rules were the mantra of the CIA during the Cold War for operational safety. In the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., the Moscow Rules are displayed below, as are their applicability to the Guide (in parentheses).
1. Assume nothing. (Check and recheck everything. It’s better to feel silly double-checking than scrambling to recover something because you did not.)
2. Never go against your gut. (Golden rule: If something doesn’t feel right, it’s not, and react accordingly. Your gut is your operational radar. If a situation does not feel safe, get the heck out of there. Normally, not a problem at the ballpark, but might apply to lodging or transportation getting to and from your destination.)
3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control. (You are a visiting Dodgers fan, unless you go to Los Angeles, or go to Phoenix on a weekend, you will likely be very much outnumbered. Remember that fact and act accordingly.) Don’t be this person:
A Dodger fan appears at a Padres vs. Braves game— Baseball Fight Club (@mlb_fights) April 15, 2022
This behavior is obnoxious considering that the above game does not involve the Dodgers in any way. You could argue that this behavior could be tarred to the fanbase as a whole, but every group has its share of idiots.
Moreover, during the Freezing Rain game on Tuesday, I sought shelter in the bar area where the Twins’ organist plays. She is a very nice lady and loves talking to kids and it is a very surreal experience to suddenly hear organ music while enjoying a beverage. On this particular night, I was keeping warm and a short man was attempting to get in my face by shouting “Let’s go, Giants!” He was wearing a full jersey and Giants’ gear. I was more confused by his behavior than anything because I’m in Minneapolis, I would never wear a Dodgers jersey to a game where the Dodgers aren’t at (would and have worn a cap), and I would never attempt to start something with someone under 99.99% of circumstances. So I ignored him. That really ticked him off. So I ignored him even more before his friends dragged him away. So yeah, don’t do that.
4. Do not look back; you are never completely alone. (Do not be paranoid, but realize that there is probably always someone watching you. Just be mindful of that fact and act accordingly. Remember - ending up on SportsCenter likely is a bad thing - unless you did something cool.)
5. Go with the flow, blend in. (You’re a baseball fan, not a spy - just roll with the events of the day and enjoy yourself. Don’t succumb to the Arrival Fallacy - “oh I’ll be happy, once I [fill in the blank,] enjoy the moment.)
6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover. (Not really applicable as you aren’t a spy. But if you want to pretend to act like a spy...you do you.)
7. Lull them into a sense of complacency. (Pick and choose your moments to cheer. I’m not going to lie - it’s always a thrill when my booming voice is the only one I hear during critical moments when the Dodgers pull ahead on the road.)
8. Do not harass the opposition. (You are outnumbered. See number 3 above. It’s okay to cheer, just don’t be a jerk.)
9. Pick the time and place for action. (You are outnumbered. See number 3 above. I leave my boisterous fun inside the stadium walls. Outside the stadium walls, I’m on my best behavior - even after a Dodgers loss.)
10. Keep your options open. (Build leeway into your plans because most plans don’t survive contact with life. It’s better to build buffer time into your plans than have to scramble. Although...)
We are not spies; we are Dodgers fans who (might) like to travel. But common sense is regrettably, quite uncommon, especially when alcohol or stupidity is involved.
The Five Questions that the Guide will answer.
1) Is it worth going here?
Your time is valuable, and so is mine. That said, I’ll always start a formal entry with an answer to that basic question right off the bat.
Not all ballparks are created equally. Thankfully, we share a fandom of a team that is competitive and usually compelling; after all, we’re not Pirates / Orioles / Reds / Rockies fans (sorry, those respective fanbases, I really try not to punch down. You like what you like, but I have really to make this point).
So far, I’ve been to sixteen of the thirty current stadiums in Major League Baseball. Even a bad day at the ballpark beats most days at home. That said, there are clear places I’d recommend and clear places where lowered expectations would serve you well, barring the deployment of ironic enjoyment.
2) How should I get there?
If you follow the Guide, generally, you’ll be arriving at these cities by airplane. But not always - and I’ll share the lessons that I had to learn the hard way. Even then, the Guide will inform your decisions on whether you need a car or whether you can rely on other methods to get to and from your selected Dodger game.
3) Where should I stay?
If you follow the recommendations of the Guide, you don’t necessarily need to stay at the Ritz. That option doesn’t hurt if you can swing it. However, the closest option or the most expensive option is not always the best option. I’ll share my experience on options of where to stay and advise you where to avoid so that you can get to and from the ballpark with relative ease.
4) Where should I sit?
To some, the $64,000.00 question of the Guide. And obviously, I will ignore the obvious answers (sit directly behind home plate at field level, sit by the Dodgers dugout), and give you my insights on where to sit, depending on your budget. Moreover, the Guide will provide the following three recommendations.
- Whether you’re on a budget.
- Whether you want to sit somewhere fun.
- Whether you want the sit somewhere that has the best value for your dollar.
The Guide will have photographs and videos so that you can see the view for yourself and not rely on an approximation like say on StubHub/SeatGeek.
5) After all is said and done, would I want to go back?
It’s one thing to plan a trip when you have a stated goal (go to every Major League ballpark - I see you, Tampa - you stay put too! I’m not going to Montreal...so help me...). It’s another thing entirely when you go to a place, and you realize that your experience ranges from:
- Hey, that was fun! This trip needs to be a yearly event, if able!
- Hey, that was fun. I can hardly wait to go back!
- Hey, that was fun, but I don’t need to go back right away.
- Hey, that was fun, but I probably don’t need to do that again.
- Hey, that was somehow NOT fun. Why did I put myself through all of this work?
Of the locations I have been to so far, there is a clear distinction between locations that I would make annual trips to (if able) and places where I could see myself going back in a few years to some places where I do not feel the need to visit...ever again.
Also, I will attempt to add extras that I have uncovered in my travels that are optional, but still worth checking out if you have the resources and inclination.
Now, you have clear expectations as to what to expect from the Guide. Well, that and photos of Adric. Spoiler alert, there will be lots of photos of Adric in my adventures in the Guide.
As with most, if not all, things, your mileage may vary and you might disagree with portions of the Guide. Please note that you paying the low, low, low price of nothing. If you have a complaint, it will be reviewed provided that the complaint is signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months, and recycled as kindling.
With these preliminaries finally out of the way, the time has finally come for the first entry of the Guide: Chicago by way of Wrigley Field.