Column

Having a ball on a journey around Dodger Stadium

Bouncing around the stadium on a summer night at Chavez Ravine. Or as I like to call it, the second arrondissement:

Dodgers dugout: Dog trainer Cesar Millan is preparing to throw out the first pitch to Cesar Junior, a beautiful pit bull sculpted of pewter. From the name, I would guess they are related, though Cesar Junior is far better looking. The lesson: Never hang out with a pet more attractive than you are.

Field level, Section 27, Row S: Run across reporter Roger Vincent and architect Doug Hanson. I tell them my plan to buy all the Club Level suites and turn them into condominiums. Or a cluster of high-end bait shops, I can't decide. This immediately reminds them of a hotel overlooking some stadium where a couple made love in full view of fans. I move on.

Left field pavilion, Row K: The Dodgers' version of the bleachers, though why they don't just call them "the bleachers" eludes me. Lots of things elude me. Like, why is Matthew McConaughey so pensive in those Lincoln advertisements? In any case, I consider the pavilions to be God's country, brimming with true fans who follow every pitch, yet manage to have a rollicking good time. The place heaves like a hive. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am.

Left field plaza: Strange to be here, where all manner of liquor is being served, and where there are heavy hints of romantic entanglement. Definitely not my scene. But I pass through as I pinwheel around the stadium, taking advantage of the fact that you can now loop around the entire field level. It used to be segmented, Balkanized, overtly classist. Now you are free to roam, one of the smartest adjustments Crazy Guggenheim has made. If I were a bargain hunter, I'd buy a low-priced pavilion seat, then make my way around to the field-level counters behind home plate. I don't think they necessarily want that, bleacher bums breathing down the necks of the scented people in first class. But that's L.A. That's Dodger Stadium.

Press box: This place is nobody's idea of a good time. I find the inhabitants sardonic and a little sad. No wait, that's me. Fortunately, I run into former Cincinnati Reds beat writer Bill Peterson, who is more flippy than even me. I mention the condos and the bait shops. "Genius," he says. "I can't help it," I insist. He says he loves ballparks on slow nights like this: the acoustics are different, the vibe more soothing. "Does anyone in this city really care about an NFL team?" he says. No.

Reserve level, Section 10, Row S: I'm so high it's almost celestial. To the northwest, the final drippings of the evening's sunset. Of all my musical-chair stops, this is the most stunning. I may turn it into condos. Or high-end bait shops, I can't decide. To my left, a woman sneezes so hard her ears move to different places on her head. For a moment, a beery mist hangs over the field. "Gesundheit!" someone finally yells. Might've been Mattingly.

Top deck, Section 2: First Dodger Dog of the night. Like carats to a Kardashian, Dodger Dogs for me contain some impossibly addictive substance. My newest friend Henry, who works stadium security after a related career in mental health, is telling me how he and his father used to watch Sandy Koufax. "Gone are the days ... " he says wistfully with almost every story. He also tells me how Casey Stengel and Don Drysdale attended the opening ceremonies of his Little League. "Gone are the days ... " I say. Talk turns to fishing. He tells me about the many bass he pulls from gravel pits near City of Industry. Seriously, bass.

Top deck exit: I leave the park, my back to the action, my face to the dramatic downtown skyline. If I were Mark Walter, I'd mount a 10-story apartment building atop this underutilized top deck. One end of the apartments would overlook the glowing games; the other would face the city's diamond-laced downtown. Sell the units for $5 million a pop, a price point only Manhattan, Tokyo or L.A. might manage. With those views, they'd still be a bargain.

The only drawback: Each night, you'd have to watch the Dodgers attempt to run the bases.

So, OK, $4 million a pop.

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
61°