Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm Calling It California

I need to finish up my west coast trip stories.  I guess they are more interesting than what is going on with the games of our Mets these days anyway.  Although I would have to say that winning today was pretty good, but...whatever.  The most exciting thing for me this season has been visiting the west coast parks.

I left you with my last story on my first night at Petco Park.  (See link here)  That was Friday of that four game series, when K-Rod blew what should have been a relatively easy save.  I missed the grand slam that solidified the Padres win that night.  But I had other things to attend to.  

Like driving up to Anaheim to see the Angels play the Rangers.  This is the ultra-70s mod sign that has the signature "A" with the Halo around it, signifying their game for the day.  I felt as though I was being transported to another period of baseball history.  One that seemed happy to embrace its past and its bright future.  

I have told many, and even in my round-up of the trip here, that out of the four California stadiums I have been to, I LOVED Angel Stadium.  I couldn't put my finger on it at first.  The team is certainly exciting to watch, with superstar Vlad Guerrero, up-and-comers like Chone Figgins, Kendry Morales and Erick Aybar, even Bobby Abreu has grown on me now that he's no longer a Yankee nor a Phil.  Even the trade of Scott Kazmir to the team the other day has been excited to see how they will fare.  

People also warned me about the "Southern California fan base," which struck me weird.  I thought the fans in San Diego were incredibly friendly, Los Angeles fans not THAT bad (then again, I went on a Saturday night so perhaps more fans showed up...not to mention the team is actually GOOD there now), and I found above all, the fans in Anaheim were knowledgeable, loyal and proud of their team.  So that was a plus too.

I also liked the whole old-stadium-with-newer-modifications.  I had spoken to an usher while walking around, and he said he guesstimated that the stadium was built in 1973 and had modifications made when Disney owned the team, late-90s, he told me. Like these Angel New Era Caps in the main entrance. 
Of course, once again,  the grand poobah of Mets blogging and baseball history in general, Greg from FAFIF told me that the stadium was built in 1966 (which makes sense, since they moved there in '66) and modifications were made in 1998.  Now, leave it to Greg also to bring up something else that struck a chord and made me realize why I liked it so much.  

He called Angel Stadium "Bizarro Shea."  And that's what struck me.  I had been pining away for Shea Stadium recently, and Angel Stadium brought that back.  If Shea Stadium didn't have toilets that backed up, better food, better weather, didn't smell bad and had actually been kept up conditionally, it would be Angel Stadium.  (and yes, I do still miss it)

So I got there maybe an hour before the game.  Since I had no emotional attachment to the game, and the outcome (at least not till I left anyway), I played purely the part of observer and walked around the stadium.  I like to get pictures of the "primary" entrance, which is typically behind home plate or center field, depending on what stadium you are at.  But I am glad that I entered the stadium through the main entrance, for I was able to see this.
As many of you are aware, forever-an-Angel Nick Adenhart was killed in a DUI accident several hours after his debut in April this year.  This memorial has Rally Monkeys, Angel Beanie Babies, Angel Caps, shirts, and other paraphernalia, notes to Adenhart.  I challenge anyone to not get teary-eyed seeing this, as it was possibly one of the most overwhelming gestures of love I have ever seen.  Just because it happened several months makes it no less tragic.  
Such a shame.

But as the saying goes, the show must go on, and I, as a fan, wanted to honor this fan base, and enjoy the game.  

But walking around the stadium, there were some great items, again running with the theme of honoring your team's history -- there were walls for the Angels Hall of Fame (where some dude named Nolan Ryan was a prominent player) 

and their "Wall of Fame" that gave you a picture of how many awards (CY Young, MVP, etc) have been won by team players.  
Again, I wonder why, WHY can't the Mets have something like this? I mean, wouldn't we love something like this accessible to the public?  Something to honor our past, besides a social studies-remembrance of a Rotunda? 

I digress. Back to the stadium tour. I was also impressed by the specialty food items and even bars. I'd like to have margarita bars at my stadium, although truth be told, I could see why they don't in New York. The weather isn't that good three out of the six months of baseball season, but...more items than beer should be available.  Like the SoCo Halocane (clever) and the Jack Daniels booth in waterfall centerfield area.

The obligatory Carl's Jr in the Angel Stadium Food Court...
But also places like Angelito's and Panda Express (which sprouts up like mini-malls in the suburbs in California, it seems).
Angelito's was in the center field area, where the waterfalls were...

I want a waterfall too!!  So funny, I've seen that thing a million times, watching Angels games, so it's definitely fun to see the kitschy stuff in person.

So I sat in an area called the "View" seats - which I guess would be comparable to the old Upper Deck at Shea or a little less Promenade-ish.

View from the seats:
Here's their version of the Pepsi Porch, the Budweiser Deck.

Their "K" corner is the "CPK Meter" (for California Pizza Kitchen -- of course, shameless promotion, but still cute).

I also liked walking around the concourse prior to the game. They played Train's song "Calling All Angels." I thought it was charming, but nothing can touch my love for hearing the old Meet the Mets song.  Nothin'.

But I mostly liked the fans. They all wore red it seemed, but I struck up a conversation with a fellow next to me who was from Texas, a Rangers fan, but living in LA. I don't admit to knowing much about AL baseball and especially their teams but I was impressed, especially with someone from Texas (where football reigns supreme) to care so deeply about the team. Remember I mentioned something about that dude, Nolan Ryan who was once an Angel? He's President of the Rangers now, and has changed the philosophy of the team it seems. They became less of an offensive threat and are focusing on defense and pitching. I'm a big fan of that myself. It would have been easy to become a Rangers fan at that point (since their representative sitting next to me was very cute and wearing a cowboy hat - ooh, HOT), but unlike Metsgrrl (who apparently loves the Arlington Ballpark) the jury is still out on that stadium for me since I have not been there.  Perhaps next year...

Anyway, back to the game.  The game was low-scoring and not much action, till of course right around the time I left to stock up on Rally Monkeys and more photos and had to leave.  I psyched myself out and gave myself almost TOO much time to get to Chavez Ravine.  I left around the 7th inning and had to check into my hotel.  
Here I am, outside the main entrance to Angel Stadium.  Which leads me to the inspiration for the title of this posting. 

As many of you Mets fans have seen, there are a contingent of shirts who refuse to acknowledge our new ballpark's corporate sponsor, and are intent on "calling it Shea." Hey, I have to say I've called it Shea many a time, without even realizing it. Old habits die hard. 

But here's the thing. Growing up, the Angels, to me, were the "California Angels." Anaheim Angels was also cool, since I mean, they DO represent the city of Anaheim, which is in and of itself a bustling (sort of) metropolis. Okay, okay, it's Disneyland, but still. I would expect a team in Orlando to call themselves "Orlando fill-in-the-blank" (Orlando Magic, for one). So Anaheim was apparently christened when Disney bought the team in the late 90s.

Their new owner, Arte Moreno, has made the team his own and got approval to name the team "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."

Los Angeles Angels...of Anaheim. WTF? First off -- you're seriously going to call a team the ANGELS ANGELS. Not to mention, Anaheim is not even NEAR Los Angeles. Okay, fine, it is but Los Angeles is called Los Angeles for a reason...uh, it's the friggin county. Anaheim is Orange County. I know the Los Angeles Angels are an homage to the old Pacific Coast League team, but I can see why Dodger fans get pissed off about it. Los Angeles does not = Anaheim.

But I like California. And I like the Angels. So I will continue to honor them by their old name. California Angels.

I'm calling them California from here on out.

It was a beautiful day that day, and you know the old saying. Let's Play Two!

I had an hour-plus drive (about 35 miles) north to Chavez Ravine.

Say a prayer for Nick Adenhart, and call all your Angels.


Ed Leyro said...

California looks like the place to be, not just for the stadiums and the historical artifacts inside the stadiums, but for the teams themselves. The Dodgers and Angels look like they're playoff-bound and the Giants are contending for the Wild Card.

The California Angels' (I'll call them that as well) stadium is gorgeous. Just think, had Donnie Moore not given up that home run to Hendu in the '86 ALCS, the Mets might have had to play there in the Series that year!

G-Fafif said...

I want a Halocane RIGHT NOW.

Shell said...

You mean this Nolan Ryan?

The memorial to Adenhart is pretty sad. It's cool that you still went on this trip even though it was by yourself. Sometimes that is just the best way to go.

Fred said...

"His momma call him Clay, I'm-a call him Clay."