Monday, June 29, 2009

Justin's Review: Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Ballpark Design:  Angel Stadium of Anaheim opened in 1966, but has had two extensive renovations – the first turned it into a much larger, football sized stadium, and the second reverted it back to a more intimate baseball-only facility.  To a certain extent, it’s history certainly shows – the outfield lacks much of the charm and unique design that many other new ballparks have, and it’s one notable feature, the rocks with waterfalls in centerfield, looks almost out of place, as if it was part of an attraction at next door Disneyland.  The ballpark also feels older, with some of the narrowest and ugliest concourses we’ve seen yet.  That being said, when you’re actually watching a game there, the ballpark doesn’t look half bad.  The quirky dimensions, for whatever reason, feel more natural here than at many other new ballparks.  The high wall in right centerfield and the really low walls near both foul poles add some real character, and the stacked bullpens in left center give it a different look than many other ballparks.  The Angels have also done a good job making the ballpark look better on the outside.  The stadium is located in the middle of a parking lot, but by adding features such as two gigantic Angels hats and a huge “A” logo around the outside, it makes it clear who plays there.  Unfortunately, we did not have much of a chance to explore the rest of the ballpark (particularly the outfield concourses) because we arrived later than we would have liked, due to (what else) LA traffic.  But from what I did see, Angel Stadium is an older park that is doing an adequate job of making the best of what it has.  B-

Scoreboard/Soundtrack: With two large video screens, one above each left field and right field, the Angels provide plenty of information about all aspects of the game.  Strip boards along the facing of the upper deck act as auxiliary boards, and the out of town scoreboard is located on a screen embedded in the right field wall.  But of course, no mention of scoreboards at Angel Stadium can be without mention of the horrible/ridiculous/hilarious rally monkey, the furry creature that appears on the video boards to get the crowd going during big moments in the game.  While the gag itself is a bit overplayed (can you believe that people actually go to baseball games holding stuffed monkeys?), the ways in which the Angels have him “appear” are pretty funny, placing the monkey in the middle of dramatic scenes from famous movies (they used Ghostbusters while we were there).  It probably gets old after a while, but at least for the first time, it's pretty amusing. B+

Food/Drink:  Being an older stadium, there was less room for food stands in the concourses than in new stadiums, however, the Angels, for the most part, did a good job providing some options that differed from the usual ballpark fare.  In our very brief walk through the lower concourse, we saw a bunch of different stands, and the upper deck also seemed to have options other than hot dogs etc, something that is not true of many ballparks.  Both Mike and I had Chinese food from a stand in the upper deck right near where we were sitting, which was pretty good.  Only complaint – there was no TV anywhere near the Chinese food place, so we had no clue what was going on in the game while we were waiting there.  B

Fans:  It was very hard to truly judge what the stadium is usually like, simply because of the nature of a game between cross-town rivals.  As you would expect, there were many Dodgers fans there in addition to Angels fans (I’d say it was just about 50-50).  Both fan bases were very much in to the game, egged on by fans of the other team.  After the first few innings, when the Dodgers took a sizable lead, the place quieted down a bit, but for the most part the energy was very high.  B+

City/Stadium Neighborhood:  Go read what I wrote about LA in my Dodgers review.  Then remember that this stadium is located in Anaheim, in Orange County, which makes it all the more awful. City: D; Stadium Neighborhood: F

Game:  The highlight of the game was the pitching matchup: Jeff Weaver vs. Jered Weaver (they’re brothers).  Despite being the less successful of the two over the past few years, Jeff Weaver won the intrafamily duel, pitching 5 innings and allowing only two hits.  While the first few innings of the game were exciting, the Dodgers blew the game open with 3 runs in the fifth and another in the sixth.  The final score of 6-4 in favor of the Dodgers makes it seem closer than it was, as only a 2-run homer with 2 outs in the ninth by Gary Matthews Jr. made it a close game.  Still, a fun game if only because of the battle between brothers and between teams from the same city. B

Overall Experience:  In terms of the ballpark alone, Angel Stadium probably will not rate towards the top of my list – it’s a perfectly adequate place to watch a game, but lacks anything truly special.  However, we had a great time watching a game between two good teams with a lot of clearly passionate fans.  B

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