Wednesday, July 1, 2009

God, what a baseball day

God does love those that love baseball.

I have lots of proof.

His bestseller starts with, "In the big inning . . ."

Then, there was today. Which actually started Monday.

Watching the Dodgers and Rockies on Monday evening. The announcer goes thru the upcoming schedule and says there is a matinee game on Wednesday. Noon.

I heard God's voice. (Actually, it was Morgan Freeman's voice from those Visa commercials saying, "When's the last time you took your daughter to the aquarium on a Tuesday?" Mr. Freeman has played God alot, so you can see how this all came together.) I had Peanut all day to myself on Wednesday, and we were going to Dodger Stadium.

So, today was the day.

Baseball nuts want to visit all the great ballparks. Dodger Stadium was still on my list.

It is amazing. Just north of downtown LA. Drive over a ridge, into Chavez Ravine, and there is the most perfect setting for baseball.

In the parking lot no less, I asked Peanut what this place reminded her of. "Disneyland", she said. And she was right. You are in Dodgertown the moment you enter the parking gate.

We walk to the ticket window and get two seats in the Top Deck. Eighteen bucks. Less than two tickets to a movie. We were entering one of the shrines.

Entering the gate, they give her a Dodgers hat. Cap Day it was. A good sign.

We got there around 11 so I could teach her how this works. The pre-game activity. The warm-ups. The scoreboard. The food.

Before we hit our seats, I had downed my first Dodger Dog. Hmmmm.

We are sitting in the very top, or last row, of the stadium enjoying the view while she eats her first and I eat my second Dodger Dog.

A young man walks up and says, "Sir, would you be interested in some field level seats?"

"What's the deal?", I ask.

"Oh, no deal sir. My name is Alex. I work for the McCourt's. I am a PR guy for the Dodgers. When there are unsold field level seats, the McCourt's insist we go find fans that would enjoy them."

"You're kidding?"

"No, sir. If you will just follow me. And if it is ok, I will give you a tour of the stadium on the way."

I'm in heaven. Peanut hasn't a clue. One day she will.

Down the secret elevators and stairwells. Past the pressbox where Vin Scully does the best baseball broadcast on earth. Past the Tommy Lasorda workout center. (Not that Tommy ever used it. But a state of the art facility for the players.) To the security room. They have cameras observing everything in the stadium and for a mile radius around it. The White House should be so secure.

Then he shows us the old golf cart that used to ferry in relief pitchers back in the 70's. They retired it in the early 80's. Peanut and I got to sit in it. Oh, the greats that have sat their butts in that seat.

Then Alex excused himself for a minute and asked us to wait. He returned with a batting practice jersey for Peanut. I'm bleeding Dodger blue now.

Down to the bullpen to watch warmups.

Then, he walks us to our seats. Twenty rows up a few feet past first base.

"Are we gonna get a foul ball here?", she asks.

"A good chance", I answer.

We settle in. Make nice with our new neigbors. And continue to eat for the cycle. More dogs. Cotton candy. Garlic fries. Hmmmm.

In the fifth inning, by God, here comes a foul ball right at us. It lands five feet beyond my reach, then richochets under a seat and off my big toe, and a guy two rows down grabs it. Should have worked on the foot glove.

But in addition to everything else, we got a chance to scramble for a foul ball. How does she do that?

And a cracking good game we got to see. Two no-nonsense pitchers. Scoreless until the bottom of the 8th. Rafael Furcal (who was brought to greatness by the Braves) knocks in the only run of the game. Total game time, 2 hours 28 minutes. (They read the blog!)

On the way out, Peanut needs one more souvenir. She points out that the hat and jersey were given to her. I haven't bought anything yet. So, we find the cutest Teddy Bear covered in team and baseball logos. His new name is Dodger.

On the drive home, she falls asleep in the backseat hugging with Dodger in a bear hug.

And I hear God's voice again.

"God, is there baseball in heaven?", I ask.

"I got good news and bad news for you", He answers.

"Let me have it."

"Yes, there is baseball in heaven."

"And the bad news?"

"You're playing shortstop on Friday."

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