Cubs 1 @ Dodgers 3
Dodger Stadium is a lousy place to watch a baseball game. It’s no fault of the stadium itself–it’s actually a beautiful facility, with good sight lines, good seating, and attractive, old-school architecture. The problem is the people surrounding you. Not all Dodger fans are awful people–I have to be clear about that to avoid the grief I would otherwise receive from my Dodger-fan friends.
But every negative stereotype and cliche about Dodger fans–and Los Angeles residents, in general–is present in the crowd. They show up late, they don’t pay attention to the game, they’re more interested in people watching and other in-game nonsense, they’re loud, they’re drunk, and they’re aggressive toward opposing fans and other Dodger fans alike. Vast swaths of the crowd are exponentially more invested in doing the wave, bopping beach balls, and watching the inning-break shell game on the scoreboard than they ever are in the actual baseball game. In fact, I’ve never been to a sporting event where the fans are less invested in the game than they are routinely at Dodger Stadium. Consequently you spend a fair amount of your time at the game dodging beach balls, insults, and occasional garbage while trying to determine how many of your neighbors are looking for a fight, drunk, high, drunk and high, or on parole.
Saturday night was no different, and while we weren’t sitting with many other Cubs fans, we did seem to be in a fairly calm, well-behaved part of the park (they were actually great seats on the field level, down the third base line in left field). Only a couple of people nearby seemed to be looking for trouble–the rest were mostly looking for beach balls. (Security guards at Dodger Stadium have to be adept at spotting and snagging beach balls without disrupting the game. The guy in our section last night was actually ripping them apart with his bare hands–an impressive, veteran move.) Add my nephews–an enthusiastic toddler and an infant–to that mix and I wasn’t able to pay the closest attention to the game.
What I did see is that the Cubs were unsurprisingly ineffective against Clayton Kershaw. The lone bright spot came early, on Alfonso Soriano’s 4th inning double. But with the speed of the game–it only lasted 2 hours and 33 minutes–there wasn’t much time left for them to get a rally going. It was the kind of game where a 1-run deficit felt huge. And for what it’s worth, I think Matt Kemp’s 2-run shot in the bottom of the 4th would have gone out even if it hadn’t hit Joe Mather’s glove–it was heading for the top of the wall, and I’ve never seen one hit there and bounce back into fair territory.
But the real story for me was the shockingly effective performance from Chris Volstad. For the first time this season, he managed to avoid his patented One Bad Inning, and if the Cubs had been able to mount any kind of offense behind him, he could have been in line for his first win. He did get some help from his defense, but his 7 strong innings made for his best performance of the season. He may have lost the game, but for at least one night, he won the battle against himself.