Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day 51: Dodger Stadium

All photos of USC and Dodger Stadium available on Flickr.

Today was our final day in Los Angeles (finally) and we spent the afternoon touring the USC campus, which Erik attended for a year before transfering to UW-Milwaukee. Before heading into the city, we made another deposit into the Habitat account and we are now up to nearly $1200 - quite a bit below our goal of $3000, but still a good amount of money raised. It was another one of those 30-mile, 1.5 hour drives that we've been encountering all week, and we are definitely glad to have experienced the last of our LA traffic jams today.

USC, as Erik warned me, is in sort of the ghetto area of Los Angeles, a bit northwest of downtown and really close to Dodger Stadium. This is the main area where the 1992 riots occurred and Erik took the Liberty of pointing out to me which buildings were burned down and since rebuilt. We saw the Shrine Auditorium (former home of the Oscars), the LA Coliseum where the Trojan football team plays, the main pedestrian walk, Heritage Hall where the Heismans/trophies are kept, the bookstore, and of course the architecture building. We also saw the California Science Center and the Rose Garden, which are adjacent to campus. Erik was a very good tour guide and told me a lot of the stories of his time there and some USC traditions.

Around 5pm we headed to Dodger Stadium, which was only a couple miles up I-110. Dodger Stadium was built in 1962 upon the Dodgers' move from Brooklyn. Much like Angel Stadium, it has undergone significant renovation over the past decade, including 8 new rows of seats closer to the field, expanded dugouts, and 56000 brand new seats. The park is located in Elysian Park, a beautiful 200-acre landscape in an area known as Chavez Ravine. The stadium is perched up on top of one of the highest points in the city, and patrons park at the bottom and ascend the hill to the entrance gate. The main gate is known as the "Top of the Park," and unlike most major league parks, you enter the stadium at the very top row instead of on the first level. This provides for a spectacular view over the rest of Elysian Park, including mountains in the background and a giant "Think Blue" sign built into the hillside, much like the Hollywood sign. Our seats were up here and we had great views of the sunset during the game. We didn't really get to see any of the bottom level, but we were there in time to catch a little BP since it was impossible to even attempt to set up for fundraising at Dodger Stadium, since this would involve us descending the hill and setting up by a freeway off-ramp. We spent a good hour before first pitch watching "Did You Know?" fun facts about Dodger Stadium and Carlos Lee pounding balls over the left field bleachers.

Los Angeles did not represent themselves well on national television, as the game was another woeful offensive output for the Dodgers. They have lost 9 of their last 11, including 4 shutouts and a dreadful 28 innings without scoring a run last week, with over half of those innings coming against the cellar-dwelling Cincinnati Reds. They lost 4-1 behind a lackluster pitching performance by Chad Billingsley that included 4 walks and a hit batsman. Roy Oswalt tossed 8 strong innings and Jason Lane homered in the win for the 'Stros. The lone eventful inning for the Dodgers was the 5th, in which Rafael Furcal hit a sac fly to score their only run, and Nomar Garciaparra was tossed in an animated exchange. He has since been placed on the DL, possibly for pulling something on the way back to the locker room.

Tomorrow we head two hours south for sunny San Diego!

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 4
views from park - 9 (Chavez Ravine)
view to field - 7 (not bad for how high up we were)
surrounding area - 3 (USC is relatively close, but stadium is perched on a hill)
food variety - 4
nachos - 5 (chips tasted weird, salsa was good)
beer - 3 (very pricy - 8 and 11 bucks - but souvenir glow cups are available...only Bud and Tecate on tap)
vendor price - 3
ticket price - 6 (about average)
atmosphere - 5
walk to park - 1 (very confusing and tiring)
parking price/proximity - 1 (down the hill, $15)
concourses - 4 (concourses on top have nice view)
team shop - 9 (three huge ones)

best food - Dodger Dog
most unique stadium feature - "Think Blue" sign in the hills
best jumbotron feature - "Did You Know" and player facts
best between-inning feature - "California Girls" spotted on jumbotron

field dimensions - 330/395/330
starters - Roy Oswalt (HOU) v. Chad Billingsley (LAD)
opponent - Houston Astros
time of game - 3:02
attendance - 49510
score - 4-1 L
Brewers score that day - off

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