Our first baseball trip of 2006 took us to Southern California to see games in Los Angeles, San Diego and Anaheim. The baseball foray was included in a longer trip covering portions of Southern California and nearby Mexico. When traveling to Northern California a few years before, I chose to go in September, when the weather is at its best. Unfortunately, I did not give the trip to Southern California the same amount of thought when we decided to go in early June.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, low clouds and fog often cover coastal sections of Southern California during June, when ocean temperatures are still fairly cool. Known as “June gloom” by the locals, the low clouds can cover the sun for days at a time, resulting in gloomy conditions. My timing for a trip to Southern California almost couldn’t have been worse, but we were determined to enjoy the trip, regardless of the weather.
Headquartered in San Diego for the week, I drove up to Los Angeles during a Wednesday afternoon. Leaving the hotel in San Diego hours before the first pitch (scheduled for 700 pm), I made good time traveling Interstate 5 north until we approached LA. Apparently I caught the beginning of the evening commute, and sat in traffic for almost an hour. The delay reminded me of traffic in NJ or Long Island NY, but at least there was some movement. Despite the delay, I arrived early enough to explore Dodger Stadium.
Wearing my black Mets jersey, I worked my way through the massive onsite parking outside the stadium, when I encountered a group of Dodgers fans just outside the park. To my great surprise, the group slowly encircled me, taunting me for wearing the Mets jersey. Being from NJ, I was well acquainted with abuse by hometown fans, but it was shocking that it was happening in LA, where I assumed fans were relatively mellow.
The incident ended quickly with no violence, and I went about my way explore the outside of the park. At no time did I feel threatened, as I believed that the fans were generally harmless. However, based on what happened to the Giants fan not long after my incident made me reflect on the encounter. Perhaps I was in more peril than I thought.
The unpleasantness behind me, I met my brother (who was staying nearby) and we wandered around the outside of Dodger Stadium. Third on the list of oldest active ballparks in MLB, this was a baseball shrine, with a long storied history. On this night, however, with low clouds and smog providing a dank environment, Dodger Stadium felt a bit less regal, almost washed out. Still, we were in the presence of a baseball cathedral, and we weren’t going to let immoderate conditions to ruin it for us.
Emerging from the tunnel from the concourse behind home plate, the smog and low clouds were clearly evident. In fact, the haze and smog were so bad that the nearby San Gabriel Mountains to the north of the park were not visible this evening. Apparently, the “June gloom” was insistent on making its presence known.
Once inside, we wandered throughout the ballpark taking pictures. To my great dismay, the clouds and smog were wreaking havoc with the cameras, forcing us to go manual with the settings. As a result, we didn’t take nearly as many useful pictures as I had hoped. Regardless, we could feel the presence generated by the place. Since I was young, watching Mets games at Dodger Stadium late at night on the East Coast, I dreamed about seeing a game at the venerable ballpark, and many years later, here we were.
After grabbing a baseball dinner at the concession stand (complete with fabled Dodger Dogs), we headed for our seats. Sitting near the top of the lower level, we had an excellent view of the playing field and the stadium. Still having a hard time believing we were actually there, we settled in for the first pitch.
Starting for the visiting Mets was veteran Tom Glavine. In his fourth year as a Met, Glavine was in the midst of his best season in New York, sporting a 9-2 record. On the hill for the Dodgers was Odalis Perez, a journeyman left hander who was struggling through a rocky start to his 2006 season. Perez’s task was even more difficult, facing a potent Mets offense that featured several All Stars.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers starter, the Mets scored four runs in the first inning, followed by a run in the second. However, the Dodgers offense jumped on Tom Glavine for a run in the first and four more in the second inning, effectively neutralizing the Mets advantage. The cool conditions did not totally stifle the offenses, with a total of three home runs hit in the game.
Two more runs for the Mets in the fourth inning ended Oadlis Perez’s night, after yielding seven runs on 11 hits in just three and two thirds of an inning. Glavine’ s night wasn’t much better, ending in the sixth inning after surrendering six runs in five and one-third innings. The game then became a battle of the bullpens.
The Mets scratched out a couple of more runs in the seventh inning, and the Dodgers responded with a run of their own in the eight. A quartet of Mets relievers held on for a 9-7 victory, as Tom Glavine earned his 10th win, despite the rocky performance. As expected, the partisan crowd filed out early, leaving a nearly deserted stadium by the time the last out was recorded.
Though I was able to fulfill a baseball dream by seeing a game at the historic Dodger Stadium, I couldn’t help but feel as though the experience was diminished to some degree by the cloudy and cool conditions. It was my own fault; my research failed to account for the apparently well known “June gloom”. Hopefully I will return when the weather is better to enjoy Dodger Stadium in all its glory.