Friday, March 29, 2013

So, What's New at Dodger Stadium?

As you know, Dodger Stadium has undergone some changes- some significant changes.  All winter long construction crews have been working their tail off to finish before the start of the season, and it appears they are going to hit their mark- save a couple of minor details here and there.  Heck, what do you expect for $100 Million?  In realty, there was such a short amount of time to get so much done, I'm genuinely surprised they got this far.  This really was a monumental undertaking, and the Guggenheim ownership were obviously up for the task.
“We have worked extremely hard during the off-season to create the best possible experience for ALL our fans for the 2013 season,” Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten said. “The upgrades were designed with particular emphasis on the Top Deck and Reserve levels and outfield pavilions that had been essentially untouched since the stadium first opened. Our goal is to provide THE most pleasurable experience from the time fans arrive at the stadium until the time they depart, ideally after a Dodger victory.

“We are confident our fans will be delighted with what they experience at the stadium this season. We look forward to receiving feedback from our fans as we continue to work diligently to enhance their experience.” 
Kasten makes an important point here.  Our old owner (who shall not be named), basically neglected the fans who sit in the cheap seats.  All prior improvements during the past regime were geared towards the monied folks.  It's as if he wanted to make clear that he could care less about "certain" fans.  Anyway, Kasten has reset the table, and makes clear that the rest of us are just as important.

BTW, special recognition should go to Janet Marie Smith, Senior VP of Planning and Development, who is the visionary behind these changes.  She is known for her work with the Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park at Camden Yards), Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park) and Atlanta Braves (Turner Field).

So, what's different at the Dodgers new home?  Well, here is a helpful summary:
Top of the Park (Upper Reserve Level) 
  • Expanded concourse area with enhanced views of the downtown skyline.
  • Two new and enlarged concession areas, including new stands, cooking facilities and menus. 
  • All new and enlarged restrooms, including a family restroom. 
  • New team store with ticket windows attached.
  • 5-feet high “retired number” sculptures.
(pic tweeted by LA Times reporter @BillShaikin)
Reserve Level
  • Entry gates extended out 30 feet to enlarge the concourse. Each gate will feature some special Dodger memorabilia, including oversized baseballs autographed by winners of the Cy Young Award and life-size bobbleheads featuring uniforms worn by the Dodgers through the decades. 
  • All restrooms enlarged. Family restrooms added along with water fountains. 
    (pic via @Dodgers on twitter)
  • New concession areas, including new stands, cooking facilities and menus. 
  • A team store on the left-field side and another will be completed on the right-field side on a date TBD. 
  • Kids play areas on the first-base and third-base side. 
  • Expanded concourse allows for more standing room with views of the game and more space for fans in wheelchairs and their companions. 
  • Life-size replicas of bobbleheads and MVP, Cy Young and Gold Glove awards at entry plazas
Club Level
  • The United Suite Concourse houses a display of Dodger yearbook covers, media guide covers and other team memorabilia. The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation baseball display was relocated from the breezeway lobby reception area by the Dodgers’ office to outside the press box. A new display of team media guides was created in the lobby area 
Loge Level
    (pic via @Dodgers on twitter)
  • New concession areas, including new stands, cooking facilities and menus. 
  • All restrooms were enlarged. Family restrooms were added, along with water fountains and a fan service area. 
  • Patio boxes for group seating in a casual setting were created at the back of the concourse. 
  • Wider concourse and additional locations for wheelchair-bound fans and their companions and standing room with drink rails beyond the foul poles. 
  • Enhanced lighting. 
  • Murals depicting Dodger history
Field Level
  • New entry plazas to create standing room areas with a view of the game. 
  • Wider concourse, drink rails and additional locations for wheelchair-bound fans and their companions. 
  • Reduced number of Prime Ticket Club seats along foul lines to improve sightlines (from 1066 to 640), with wheelchair positions on the front row. As a result, there will be an additional six feet of foul territory on left field and right field foul lines
Lexus Dugout Club
  • Hallway leading to Dugout Club was repainted and received wood wainscoting treatment with display cases featuring Dodgers Gold Glove, MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards. This area is available to all fans on daily guided tours of the stadium.
    (pic via twitter @betovision)
  • In both left and right field, new and larger restrooms were created more conveniently located under the pavilions. Picnic areas were added.
(pic via twitter @marksaxon)
Video/Ribbon Boards
  • New High Definition video boards in left field and right field are the first 10mm 1080p light emitting diode (LED) displays in MLB.  While the new scoreboard structures are 22 percent larger, the active viewing area of both video boards is 66 percent larger than before. Existing message boards, including ribbon boards at the Loge level and outfield wall, were replaced with the new technology as well.  The unique hexagon shape of both scoreboards has been restored.
Sound System 
  • A new sound system directed to each seating section will minimize echoes and sound migration outside the stadium and will provide for a much more enjoyable audio experience for fans as they listen to live and recorded music and announcements before, during and after games.
  • A state-of-the-art Wi-Fi network and cellular antenna system to support cell-phone and internet connectivity from mobile devices will enhance the ability of fans and media covering games at Dodger Stadium to communicate. The project was part of a partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media and is expected to be completed in June. An entirely new electrical power grid with seven new substations was added to support these technologies.
  • A new home team clubhouse, expanded and enhanced training/conditioning areas, and new batting cages for both teams
(pic tweeted by @Dodgers)

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Here are some 2013 Opening Day Details

The Dodgers just released details on the events for Opening Day on Monday at Dodger Stadium.  Here they are:
  • Entertainment will begin at 12:15 PM and auto and stadium gates open at 10:00 AM.  The game against the Giants starts at 1:15 PM.
  • Opening Day pregame highlights will include the unveiling of two new high-definition video boards with a historical look back at Dodger Stadium’s scoreboards leading into “A Whole New Blue” season-launching performance by the Blue Man Group. Dixieland and Mariachi bands located in new plaza areas throughout the ballpark will provide live entertainment for fans entering Dodger Stadium gates.
  • A pregame recognition of the Dodgers’ 1963 and 1988 Championship seasons is planned, with this season marking the 50th and 25th anniversaries respectively of each milestone. 
  • A special Opening Day video chronicling the journey of the Opening Day first-pitch baseball will feature notable Los Angeles athletes and celebrities. The first pitch baseball’s journey will conclude with the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
  •  The United States Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard stationed at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow will present our nation’s colors riding on Palomino-colored wild mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management’s Adopt –A- Horse program. One hundred fifty uniformed personnel from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will unfurl a giant flag on the field during the national anthem.
  • All fans seated in the Right and Left Field Pavilions will participate in an interactive card stunt during the game, a first for Dodger Stadium.  This can be a rowdy bunch, so I hope this works out.
  • The Dodgers will pay tribute to the men and women of our nation’s Armed Forces by honoring a “Veteran of the Game.” Opening Day’s veteran of the game is United States Marines Corps Corporal Fernando Salazar of Monterey Park. Salazar joined the Marine Corps in 2000 and served as a machine gun squad leader with Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 4th Marines during Operation Enduring Freedom and RCT I, the first group to enter Iraq for which he was awarded the Navy Achievement medal with a Combat V for Valor, which can only be issued during a time of war.
  • New to Dodger Stadium concessions are LA Taqueria (Reserve Level) and Elysian Park Grill (Two locations on Reserve level and Top of Park).  LA Taqueria will offer items including Fish Tacos and Street Style Carne Asada and Pork Carnitas Tacos. Elysian Park Grill will offer a Dodger Blue Heaven Burger, Kids Grilled Cheese, Santa Fe Turkey Burger and the new Brooklyn Dodger Dog, an east coast take on the classic Dodger Dog.
  • Loaded Dog Concessions are back with several new options and vegetarian-friendly items include the Veggie Dog. 
  • Soft serve, garlic fries, kid-friendly items and ICEE will be available on the Reserve, Top Deck levels and throughout the stadium. More than 30 items are priced at $6 or less.
  • Official Team Merchandise Stores locations - left and right field tent stores, Top of the Park and Reserve - will now open 2 hours prior to game time. 
  • The Reserve level third base side store has been enhanced extensively and will offer merchandise for all ages. There are several season-long in-store promotions that make Dodger Stadium the most affordable retail location to purchase Dodger merchandise.
  • For the first time, there will be several carts that will assist in transporting the disabled, seniors and families with young children from the parking lots to the ticket gates. There will also be gate greeters to assist fans with questions as they enter stadium gates in addition to ambassadors at parking gate entrances.  
  • Additionally, family restrooms have been added and there are now dedicated fan service locations throughout the stadium.

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A Couple of Willard Mullin "Brooklyn Bum" Drawings at Auction

As I've written numerous times before, I can't stop enjoying the artistic works of Willard Mullin.  As you probably know, he was the sports editorial cartoonist who created the "Brooklyn Bum".  Currently, a couple of his original drawings are available for auction at Goodwin & Co., and I knew I had to share them with you in this post.  BTW, click on any pic to embiggen.

Below is an undated drawing that has been titled, "Now Pitching for Brooklyn," but based on the subject matter it is likely from mid-1947 or a little later.  As you'll see, it laments the loss of the pennant to St. Louis in 1946 - noting that some argue that the trade of Billy Herman to the Boston Braves handed the pennant to the Cardinals (they eventually won the World Series).  Later on, it addresses the mid-1947 trades of pitchers Kirbe Higbe and Hank Behrman to Pittsburgh as unwise.  After all, sending those pitchers away can only come back and bite us in the rear. In the end, Mullin suggest that there maybe a secret high-priced ace (the Dodgers received $100k in the trade with Pittsburgh) coming to the Dodgers, but screams out, "that will be the day!"

As we know today, the trades made at that time are closely related to the promotion of Jackie Robinson.  The team felt it necessary to rid the team of certain "southern" influences (to put it lightly) in hopes of making Jackie's transition to the team a little bit less taxing.  After all, it's bad enough that the opposition has it out for you, but your own teammates?  Well, Durocher, Rickey and O'Malley found a solution - ship them out of Brooklyn.
(Auction Link)

This next drawing is titled, "Duty Calls, 'Yoo Hoo'," and I don't quite get it.  Let me know if you have any idea what this drawing is all about.  At least the drawings are funny.  It is undated.
(Auction Link)

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Blog Kiosk: 3/29/2013

Here's a great pic of Rick Honeycutt, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chan Ho Park as tweeted by Ryu.  Photo credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2013.  
"I haven't seen that much, but his fastball is special," Greinke said. "His fastball, hitters have to cheat for it. If they sit on another pitch, they won't be able to hit the fastball. That's important to get strikeouts. You can't sit on the offspeed and fight off that fastball. He just has an ability that's huge. Then he's got the nasty slider. No way a hitter can legitimately be on both of them. That's how he strikes out over 200.
"You can't steal off him. He's got endurance. He's a workhorse. So, to me, he's pretty much the complete pitcher. I don't know how good his command is compared to me or someone else because I haven't seen him enough. But his stuff, you could actually tell a guy what's coming and it might not matter.
"All my pitches are pretty up to normal now, I feel comfortable," Ryu said. "I feel the same way before the Korean season starts."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly likes what he's seen so far from the southpaw.

"He's thrown the ball great all camp," Mattingly said. "Obviously coming in, we have no idea what to expect other than seeing him on tape and knowing he was the best pitcher in Korea. I think he's shown that he can pitch at this level, at least during Spring Training he has. The season can be a different scenario."

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