The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Where Have You Gone Dodger Stadium, a City Turns its Angry Glare On You….”

June 5, 2011
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     Went to a Dodger game the other day.

     Pretty depressing.

     And not because the Dodgers won.   At this point I don’t even consider the Blue Crew a legit threat to my beloved World Champion Giants in the race for the National League West pennant.   No, it was because that wonderful Dodger Stadium magic—a magic that was an integral part of my youth and the youth of millions of baby-boomers like me—was gone.

The Sports Philosopher wears his Giants T-shirt to the Stadium, in honor of Bryan Stow, who was neary beaten to death by two drunken Dodger fans on opening day.  (As you can see, there were very few scary Dodger fans in attendance on this particular evening, drunk or otherwise….)

The Sports Philosopher wears his Giants T-shirt to the Stadium, in honor of Bryan Stow, who was neary beaten to death by two drunken Dodger fans on opening day. (As you can see, there were very few scary Dodger fans in attendance on this particular evening, drunk or otherwise….)


     I blame the McCourts.   And if you’re a Dodger fan, you should too.

     These two sad people, Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt (we should probably call them the “battling McCourts”) deserve all the bad press they’ve gotten lately.   And then some.   And not just because of their messy public divorce.   Lots of people have ugly divorces.   And not just because, or precisely because, of the way Frank debt-leveraged the purchase of the club and is now in hock up to his balls…uh, er um, I mean his eyeballs.   People borrow money to buy everything in this country.   It’s the American way.

     No, it’s the way their reckless personal lives have affected not only their team, but the leisure experience they are in charge of safeguarding for the average fan.   Their financial overextension compounded by the armies of lawyers bleeding the cash till dry has turned Dodger Stadium into California’s most grotesque high-end flea market.

     It starts before you even enter the ballpark.   My kid and I entered the grandstand from left field, and to even get into the grandstand you had to pass through a gift shop.   Yeah, they funneled us right through this huge, sterile, bloated gift shop full of nauseatingly overpriced Dodger raiment.   Yeah, I know they do the same thing at amusement parks like Disneyland, but it’s usually after you ride the ride.   Not Dodger Stadium.   They make you pass through this overstuffed cash cow before you even get to see the crisp greenness of the outfield.   Put me in a bad mood right away.

     And speaking of the outfield, the outfield fence was plastered top to bottom with advertisements.   Now I realize advertisements on outfield walls is as old as baseball, even Wrigley Field and Fenway Park had ads on the walls in the old days.   But where ads on the walls of those parks screamed “charm”, at Dodger Stadium it screams “Let’s pad McCourt’s coffers so he can make payroll this month!”   It reminds me of that great line of dialogue from the comedy classic Major League II, where the immortal Bob Uecker, playing the Cleveland Indians announcer, says, “The outfield wall looks like the yellow pages out there!”   Seriously, I half expected to see a Knee Deep Fertilizer ad on one of those walls, or one of those ads in Major League II for a proctologist.  I tell ya, everything these people do nowadays seems to shout “We need money, and I’m not kiddin’!”

     And speaking of Fenway and Wrigley, the only two parks in baseball older than Dodger Flea Market, how come they get grander and more noble with age, whereas our stadium just gets older with age?   Could it be because Wrigley’s ivy-covered wall and Fenway’s Green Monster ARE charming, whereas Dodger Stadium has been allowed to age like an old import-export warehouse?   It’s a tired, old, non-updated, behind-the-times dinosaur of a ballpark.   A mausoleum.   And since everyone knows the McCourts are too busy covering up their past lavish lifestyle choices with legal maneuvering against each other to pour money into the park, that’s exactly what it feels like and WHY it feels that way….

      I left my kid alone with his friends and wandered around the park a little.   I wound up by one of the box office ticket windows.   The ticket prices are painted right on the wall nowadays.   Remember when left field pavilion seats were $6 bucks apiece as recently as about four years ago?   Well, they’re $18 dollars apiece now.   The worst seats in the house now go for $18 bucks, the price tripling in just four or five years.   Field boxes that went for $25 a few years ago now go for $60.   VIP boxes go for $500 apiece….can you imagine paying $500 bucks to watch THIS team???   I wouldn’t pay $500 bucks to watch the 2011 Dodgers (who are under .500, just like last year) if they hand-fed me filet mignon washed down with complimentary campari-and-sodas while one of the Dodger wives gave me a sensual massage at the same time.   Bottom line is that people are starting to stay away from Dodger Stadium nowadays (not in droves, but staying away to a significant degree) because in the last couple years of the McCourt regime they have simply put a poor product on the field and a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. 

     But of all the ways that Dodger Stadium depressed me the other day (speaking of taste) and proved to me once again that all the McCourts care about is money and NOT what your entertainment dollar actually dollar buys, is the food.   I’ve written about the lousy Dodger Stadium food in this space before, but it’s worth hammering away on again.   In a word, it’s awful.  

     In two words, it’s really awful.

     I paid $9.75 for a gourmet barbeque chicken pizza.   Well, for $9.75 I figured that maybe it stood a chance of providing me with a pleasant tasty meal while I watched the Blue Crew pound out a rare 8-2 victory.   I was wrong.   It was like eating a lukewarm Frisbee.   They hand it to you in a cardboard container that had been sitting there since, I don’t know, since the last time the Dodgers had a good team.

     Then I got some fries.   Same deal.   They let them sit there in those paper cups for minutes on end.   Nobody in line, but dozens of paper cups with french fries just sitting there, long since cold.   They are cold, stale, tasteless sticks of deep-fried fat, nothing more.   Five bucks.   A warm drink with melted ice was also five bucks.   Talk about a lawyer-gobbling profit margin….

     My kid didn’t care.   He eats like a lumberjack, and doesn’t have any taste buds.   Between the two of us I think I wound up spending over forty dollars on food alone.   And I employ the term “food” loosely.

     I’ve been to quite a few of the newer ballparks around this country during the last few years.   Without exception, their food is outstanding.   At AT&T Park in San Francisco (home of the World Champion Giants) you can get clever, high-end chow like tangy, fresh, pulled pork sub-sandwiches, shrimp and crab cocktails, rich sweet dark imported beer, and the like.   At Progressive Field in Cleveland they offer tasty made-to-order roast beef sandwiches and gourmet hand-dipped ice cream, and it’s to die for.   I had a piece of freshly grilled chicken at Seattle’s SafeCo Field that made me want to move there.

     What it comes down to is this: Frank McCourt has contempt for you the average Dodger fan.   If he did not have utter contempt for you, he would not subject you to such prisonlike cuisine at prices designed to feather his mortgaged-to-the-hilt nest and then smile smugly and act like its okay….

     I think we should all boycott Dodger Stadium this year.   Let’s send a message.   And the message is you people need a new owner as soon as baseball can force that issue to fruition.   Write letters to Dodgers HQ, demanding the McCourts go away, and demanding, at a minimum, both better food and a statue of Sandy Koufax out in the left field parking lot in place of that horrific gift shop.   Do it, people.   You can make a difference.

     In the meantime, the chaos surrounding the Dodgers’ finances and worries over whether or not the players’ checks will bounce has to be affecting the team’s performance on the field.  It has to.   For which I am grateful.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0021

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and connoisseur of ball park food.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for it on,, or….its easy!





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