So what if Dodger Stadium isn’t ready for opening day? Then what?
Stan Kasten expressed optimism that the renovations to Dodger Stadium will be completed in time for opening day. He also said that in the event that they are not, contingency plans are in place, but he wouldn’t announce what they were. So on twitter I read numerous responses from fans pretty much saying that will not be a problem because the Dodgers can play in the L.A. Coliseum.
To that I wag my finger in Dikembe Mutumbo fashion “No, no, no… not so fast my friend,” because as cool as that Coliseum exhibition game was back in 2008, fact is, it didn’t work.
That wasn’t baseball, it was more like pinball. Balls bounced off the outfield wall and the left field line padding, fielded by Rafael Furcal, and he wasn’t even playing LF that day. A crazy game it was. Almost like the configuration of sandlot ball in my back yard. Maybe they should have played with a Wiffle Ball instead. The left field line on my softball field in the beer league I play in has a deeper left field, (yes, no joke). It was 201 feet from home plate!
In that 2008 game, the teams abandoned putting a player in the left field spot because he was breathing down the shortstop’s neck. Dodger center fielder Andruw Jones was so deep out there in the first inning that he was able to eat Dodger Dogs and chug beers sold by the vendors, and nobody even noticed, that’s because left fielder Delwyn Young was playing rover in front of him. The shortstop simply went out and retrieved balls hit to left field wall. Balls hit out there that didn’t go over the wall the umps were calling the “infield fly rule.” By the third inning, Jones must have got caught eating in the outfield, because Torre moved him in to the 5th infielder spot where he even logged a putout on the receiving end, tagging out a would be base stealer.
It looked like over the line, and they closed left field because there were obstructed seats in the way. The chain-linked fence in left didn’t work. Varitek lofted a 260 foot “shot” over the 60 foot high screen. The 2008 configuration was even worse than the 1958 one. Too many changes to the Coliseum have been made – there was no longer a running track. In the 2008 baseball configuration, the front row seats on the first base side were obscenely close to the playing field. And while some of the newer ballparks today are proud of that fact and will even advertise that front row seats are closer to home plate than the pitcher, in the ’08 Coliseum configuration, front row seats were closer to home plate than the on deck circle.
Then there was parking, and the shuttle from Dodger Stadium that didn’t work. It was a disaster of massive proportions. A “cool” disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. We put up with it ‘cuz it was a nostalgic event more than a baseball game. Attendees could say they were present at the highest attended baseball game in history, (recorded to be 115, 300). That’s fine, fine for one game, fine for a game that didn’t count. Can you imagine if the Dodgers were to play 25-30 regular season games in that place? That nostalgia would wear off mighty quickly.
Heck, we didn’t trade for Carl Crawford to play “Rover.” Skip Schumaker may hit left handed slices every now and then, but he’s no “moon shot” artist. And last I checked, Wally was a bit up there in age to sign to a 30 day contract. Heck, I don’t think he could even coach our guys to loft fly balls 120 feet high and 260 feet deep. We didn’t shell out $150 million to Zack Greinke so that his ERA can soar over 9.00 in April. Perhaps the club should have signed Cirque du Soleil performers to acrobatically field balls hit to that left field wall.
Then there will be the festival seating crowd out in Center and Right Field. It can crank up the attendance numbers and allow people to picnic on the grass, but problems are bound to ensue there. Remember how homers used to be hit out at Candlestick Park years ago, and then the fans beyond the chain-linked outfield wall would beat the stuffing out of each other in an effort to retrieve the home run balls? Well, multiply that mayhem by about 1,000.
You think there are parking problems at Dodger Stadium, wait until you try parking at the Coliseum. Shuttles from DS? Yeah that worked swell. Fans arrived two hours early for the shuttles and didn’t arrive until the 5th inning in some cases.
Then there are the little issues that we as fans don’t think about. Press box? Way up top. Announcers? Same place. Locker rooms? Who knows? Bullpens? No idea. Portable dugouts? Probably, and with porta potties too. So many safety hazards in that quirky playing field.
It might be easier to build a new Gilmore Field in Hollywood or another Wrigley Field in South Central. Are there any high school fields with decent seating capacity available?
I know, they can play the games in Angel Stadium and call it “The Big D” and call our team the Anaheim Dodgers of Los Angeles.
Any better ideas out there?