Saturday, November 19, 2011

Joey's Small Bites: Dodgers & Padres & Bears, Oh My! (Part One: Dodger Stadium Tour)

Greetings, my fellow Mets fans!  It's your fav'rit blogger/culinary expert/tour guide, Joey Beartran, here with another edition of Joey's Small Bites, although today's bites might be slightly larger than normal because I'll be discussing my recent tour to the National League ballparks in Southern California, focusing on Dodger Stadium in this post and Petco Park in a separate post.

That's right, Mets fans!  The cast and crew of Studious Metsimus was California Dreamin', and we've got the pictures to prove it.  So sit back, grab yourself a Pink's hot dog or a California roll (I'll pass on the roll, as I'm not big on sushi), and enjoy our tour recap!

 It might never rain in Southern California, but it sure gets cloudy sometimes.

The tour of Dodger Stadium began in the upper level, where they have their own parking lot and entrance.  It's the only stadium in the majors where a fan can enter through the upper deck.  My sister and tour companion, Iggy Beartran, enjoyed the view of Chavez Ravine from up here, but what we loved the most was the proximity of the entrance to the nearest Dodger Dogs stand, even if was closed for business.  (Hey, didn't they get the memo that we were coming?)

Did they close the Dodger Dogs stand because we added a little orange to the Dodger blue?

Our Dodger Stadium tour guide took us to many parts of the stadium, and asked us Dodgers trivia questions along the way, such as which players' numbers have been retired by the Dodgers.  It surprised me that my Studious Metsimus colleague correctly matched all of the retired numbers to the players who wore them.

Of course, Fred Wilpon could have named them all as well, but he would have chimed in and said that No. 32 should also be retired in perpetuity by major league baseball in addition to Jackie Robinson's No. 42.  Not only would he want No. 32 retired for BFF Sandy Koufax, but by taking that number off the table, he wouldn't have to give it to a one-and-done player like safe school-seeker Mike Hampton again.

One went to shul, the other seeked schools.  One of them also had a far better career than the other.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of tributes to their history in Brooklyn.  Although they do not have a gargantuan No. 42 inside a Jackie Robinson rotunda like Citi Field does, they do have awards and various rare photos of their time in Kings County.

On the way to those awards and photos, we passed through a hallway that has the names of all the players who played at least one game for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers painted on the walls.  We had a tough time locating Mike Piazza (we were assured that he was up there) and had fun trying to find other former Mets on the wall.  Among the names we found were Gil Hodges, Darryl Strawberry, Eddie Murray, Pedro Astacio (yes, he was a Met), Bobby Valentine, Roger Cedeño, Bob Ojeda, Gary Carter and a certain pitcher who recorded the final out of the 1986 World Series.  It was an original tribute to the team's long history, one that I wouldn't mind having the Mets copy.

I love Jesse Orosco, but hate that he won a World Series ring with the 1988 Dodgers.

From there, we saw the tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers, which was done quite tastefully without going over the top, the way a tribute should be done (I hope you're reading this, Mr. Wilpon).  There were photos of the Boys of Summer, including the 1953 Dodgers who won a franchise record 105 games (but lost the World Series to the Yankees for the millionth time), the actual home plate used at Ebbets Field from 1913 to 1957, and many (and I mean MANY) photos of Gil Hodges.

It's a shame that the Mets only have an entrance at Citi Field named after Gil Hodges, when he's just as instrumental in Mets history as a manager as he was to the Dodgers as a player.  Although the Dodgers have never retired his number (that honor is bestowed to players in the Hall of Fame), they have many tributes to Hodges inside the ballpark.  Among them are old photos, buttons and his No. 14 jersey.

The Dodgers show more love for Gil Hodges in L.A. than the Mets do in N.Y.

There is one piece of Brooklyn Dodger history that takes precedence over all other items and memorabilia found in Dodger Stadium.  Earlier I mentioned the Brooklyn Dodgers' loss to the New York Yankees in the 1953 World Series after they had established a franchise record with 105 regular season victories.  Two years later, the Dodgers and Yankees squared off again in the World Series, but this time the results were different.

In 1955, the Dodgers won their only World Series championship in Brooklyn, defeating the Yankees in seven games to take the title.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have an entire section devoted to that team, one that includes pennants and photos and would have included a World Series trophy had one existed at the time (World Series trophies weren't handed out until 1967).

Of course, no trip to a major league ballpark would be complete without the obligatory trip to the dugout and the field.  So let's not dilly dally with words here.  How about I just show you the pictures, including one of our tour guide's special Dodgers footwear and one of my Studious Metsimus colleague wearing his "Shea" shirt in the Dodger Stadium dugout.  Hey, if Fred Wilpon can show his love of Ebbets Field in New York, then we can show our love of Shea Stadium in Los Angeles.  Enjoy!

That'll do it for Part One of "Dodgers & Padres & Bears, Oh My!".  Please join me for Part Two, where I'll talk about our trip to Petco Park in San Diego.  The Padres don't have nearly the history of the Dodgers, but they do have a history and they're quite proud of it.

Until then, keep counting down the days to pitchers and catchers, don't buy any Brooklyn Dodgers merchandise from a vendor whose nametag says F. Wilpon, and let's go Mets!

"B" is for Beartran, that's good enough for me!
"B" is for Beartran, that's good enough for me!
"B" is for Beartran, that's good enough for me-e-e-e!
Oh, Beartran, Beartran, Beartran starts with "B"!

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