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Sold out not for NLCS but to do a "gnarly wave." Fucking LA people

Sold out not for NLCS but to do a "gnarly wave." Fucking LA people

Out of the 18-or-so stadiums I’ve had the chance to visit (that comes off more pathetic than accomplished), there isn’t one that comes close to Dodger Stadium’s disparity between how much I enjoy it and how much I hate it.

This is an awful analogy because not only do I have to reveal that I saw the Sex and the City movie, but I have to reference it in a logical argument about baseball stadiums. But every time I weigh the good and bad sides about going to a game, I have that same plus-minus list that Miranda makes about whether to forgive the cheating baby-daddy/husband-Jew-bar guy and meet him on the bridge.

On the plus side, when I’m at Dodger Stadium, I really enjoy myself. We’ve had good times together in a classic, laid-back, California sort of way. There’s a lot of happy memories that we have together. We’ll always have the beach ball and the wave. An awesome 2009 season loaded with walk-offs and the stadium itself is fantastic.

As in, once you’re in your seat and watching the game, Dodger Stadium is one of the best in baseball. It’s now the third-oldest stadium in the Majors, behind Wrigley and Fenway, and it’s rare that you find any of that mid-Century architecture in all sports, let alone baseball with all its cookie-cutter Camden Yards knockoffs. I love the pastel seats and the sightlines from anywhere are great. No matter where you sit, you can see the entire play.

Plus when you’re behind the plate, you’ve got Elysian Park and the San Gabriels in the distance. You get a perfect California sunset, warm weather year-round and this year’s great team. All-in-all, the experience itself is one of the best in baseball.

But then Dodger Stadium abuses that trust that we’ve built up and the negatives start piling up (let’s throw a basic chemistry reference into an awful joke: Dodger Stadium has more negatives than a carpet’s charged ions in the winter, am I right people?).

It’s as if because the stadium is so great, everything else has to be awful. We can start with the $15 parking fee, which is almost three times more than I paid for the individual ticket in my season ticket package. And if you don’t want to park in the stadium lot, try taking public trans– oh, that’s right, there is no public transportation to the stadium.

Because there is no bus or subway (there was a free bus last year from Union Station but it took ten times longer because you had to go to Union Station, wait for the bus, then sit in the same traffic as the cars), so you never have the fans gathering and the anticipation building as you pick up passengers en route to the game. Nothing beats the packed 4 train with energy building as you emerge out of the tunnel before 161st Street. For the Dodgers, you pay $15 for parking then walk a mile through multiple lots hoping that the entrance is on the same elevation as your parking spot. Or you can try biking up three massive hills.

Plus, Dodger Stadium is one of the only ones that doesn’t let you move around the stadium. Your ticket is only good for the section that you bought. Which – from a rich person’s perspective – makes perfect sense. From my $10/hour perspective not so much. Especially when the entire stadium is empty for innings one through three and seven through nine and all those juicy seats are begging for people to move down for the late innings.

How about, instead of pricing by section, you price by people who care about the game? Dodger fans are the worst. The loudest booing and cheering that you hear is for the success and failure of the wave. If the ump makes the wrong call at a play-at-the-plate and the Dodgers lose, the fans might grumble a little bit. But if someone accidentally hits the beach ball towards the usher who pops it, that’s the angriest booing you’ll hear on this side of the Los Angeles River.

So every time one my weekday games comes up, I have to do that constant fight in my head. I love baseball, the Dodgers are great this year, and the stadium is classic. But do I want to fight an hour across town from Santa Monica to Echo Park, pay an extra $15 to park or walk from Sunset, then endure some of the stupidest wave-crazed baseball fans in the Majors? Is this love? Is this what I married and had a love-child with the Dodgers for? I feel you Miranda. Do you meet the guy on the bridge? I feel you.

But that’s Dodger Stadium: one of the best stadiums in the majors with the worst accessibility and the least-passionate fans. So do you meet the Dodgers at the Brooklyn Bridge or not?

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Those inches matter. Height, I mean height.

Those inches matter. Height, I mean height.

Incredible game today, U.S. Soccer beat Spain 2-0 in the Confederations Cup semi-final. The play wasn’t as dominating as the final score – unlike other great games like the 2007 Gold Cup final against Mexico and the 2002 World Cup game against Germany – but just as euphoric.

So why do we suddenly show up at beat Spain after getting our asses handed to us by Brazil and Italy? All the columnists are writing about how we played with confidence and aggression to make the difference, but I want to float a theory that we won for two reasons:

We’re taller than Spain and Mexico’s forwards and we can beat any warm-weather team if it’s cold when the game starts.

The height thing makes the most sense. All our players are American, which means that they watch and probably played a lot more basketball than any other country. They’re athletes and probably played many sports when they were growing up, and height is valued in hoops, so they kept getting in more games and getting more fit, while at the same time their soccer skills were excelling.

Look at the heights of Spain’s best midis and forwards. Xavi, David Villa, Mata and Ferndando Torres are 5’7″, 5’9″, 5’7″ and 6’1″. So if a defender plays tight, there’s no way – regardless of how skilled they are – that they can win a header. Gooch is 6’5″, Bocanegra is 6′, DeMerit 6’1″ and Michael Bradley is 6’2″.

The numbers against Mexico – with the exception of Marquez, who is chronically injured – are just as noticeable.

So if the States can get a goal (or two) like they did today and sit back on defense. Yes, they’ll be under threat, and odds-wise, they’ll probably surrender a goal or two, but in terms of serving the ball into the box, those few inches go a long way (and, yes, that’s what she said).

Italy and Brazil are taller teams. I don’t think that this height advantage is given enough credit, but I can’t seem to think of a better explanation for why the U.S. can beat Spain by two and lose by three to both Italy and Brazil.

The other reasoning would be that the U.S. is simply a cold-weather team. Today’s game was barely above freezing when they started play. But even the North parts of Spain – like Bilbao – are still semi-tropical. The U.S. uses their crap-weather locations as distinct home field advantages when they play teams from the Caribbean.

The U.S. often plays World Cup qualifiers in Columbus, Ohio in February against Mexico when there are snow drifts and temperatures well below freezing. So why should it come to that much of a surprise when the game-time temperature in South Africa is under forty degrees and they have a strong game against Mediterranean Spain?

I don’t want to take anything away from the United States’ performance, but it seems as though with every other sport, commentators look for outside advantages that underdogs need to exploit. Do you really think South Africa would be in the semi’s if they didn’t have the homefield advantage? They wouldn’t be in the tournament if they weren’t even hosts. They can barely qualify for the African Cup of Nations, and they’re one of like three teams not torn apart by Civil War in their country.

So if the U.S. is playing in the cold against a team that relies on a lot of 5’7″, 5’8″, 5’9″ players, don’t overlook them

Paid off? Yes. Steel chair-permitting? No.

Paid off? Yes. Steel chair-permitting? No.

There are a lot of complaints over the quality of officiating in the NBA, but those critics have nothing on the complaints about officials in World Wrestling Entertainment.

Yeah NBA refs miss a call here and there and are susceptible to giving superstars easy fouls, but at least they don’t repeatedly, year after year, make enormous errors due to their own ineptness.

How many tag-team matches can one stand where the ref gets distracted while the good wrestler gets double-teamed by the bad guys when one of them isn’t even supposed to be legally in the ring! It’s absurd.

NBA refs might reward an unjustified three-point play, but I’ve never seen a Knicks game where a ref is distracted and one team is allowed to use steal chairs to bludgeon the other team to a pulp. Pacers games maybe, but rarely at best.

My point is that NBA fans need to look at World Wrestling Entertainment and realize it could be a whole lot worse.

The world championship – the most prestigious plateau and belt that one can earn – has changed hands because a referee was knocked out in the middle of a bout. And despite all the illegal stuff that one of the wrestlers did in that interval, the ref woke up just as he saw the good guy getting pinned. That is ridiculous. You thought soccer’s problem with one official was bad, that’s nothing.

I would gladly take the old refs, missed calls and bribed refs of the NBA any day. At least they’re consistent.

MLS Is...oh, it's soccer?

MLS Is...oh, it's soccer?

…Not being put on the TV at the bar.

…Barely trailing the Junior World Curling Championships in the ratings.

…A proving ground for future stars of the Trinidad & Tobago soccer league

…Looking too much like MLB on the TiVo again.

…Weighing the possibility of letting players carry the ball.

…I was just calling the radio station to request a song, do I have to win the tickets?

…Hoping Pele returns their call about coming out of retirement.

…Saving up to buy MLS.com from the Multiple Listing Service.

Seems like there isn’t a definitive guide on where to watch European soccer in L.A. There are plenty of pubs that will have the game on, but won’t have many fans or the sound on (Busby’s for example). But here is a starter guide for pubs that get some smart soccer fans and put the sound on. I don’t know which have covers and where the best fans are, but this is better than most places on the left coast.

Ye Olde Kings Head
116 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, at the end of the 3rd Street promenade
I really like this bar. Great feel, good beer, smart fans. Kind of strange that it’s located near one of the only tourist areas of L.A., and it gets big crowds. But if you go early and can get a good view of the TV, this is one of the best spots.

Cock ‘N Bull Pub
2947 Lincoln Blvd., border of Santa Monica and Venice
Went here for a U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier. Wasn’t a very big crowd, but they were good fans who wanted to get away from the more crowded spots. They had a projection screen and it was easy to watch the game. I heard they have a cover for some ESPN matches though, which is absurd if it’s true.

Fox and Hounds
11100 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
It’s up the Valley, but I’ve had a great time for the games I’ve seen up here. They give priority to football and baseball, but they have a big projection screen and good fans. Fun place to watch.

Cat and Fiddle Pub
6530 W Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
Never been here for a game, so any thoughts are appreciated. The site looks like it’s a good soccer bar (mentions you might need to reserve for the big games), so I assume it’s a good spot.


ESPN let him out for 15 minutes for this photo

ESPN let him out for 15 minutes for this photo

I love whenever there’s a big soccer match on ESPN, because the network busts out my favorite commentator and lets him talk on a nonstop firing spree for ninety minutes before they lock him away until next year.

I believe that ESPN keeps Tommy Smyth – “That’s Tommy Smyth with a ‘Y'” – in a cage in Bristol, Connecticut, where he refines his obscure accent to sound something like a cross between Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and every Charles Dickens character.

Maybe I’m such a fan because I feel so bad for the guy. He is a genius with football history, strategy and analysis, yet whenever he gets his chance to shine on SportsCenter the question he’s always asked is, “Today’s Champions League final is monumental…” And he looks real happy, like he’ll finally get a question he can thrive with. But then it’s topped off with, “…How would you compare it to baseball?”

And Tommy Smyth – who I think might legally qualify for a passport to a Leprechaun colony – has to suck it up and lower the bar so American audiences can understand football– sorry, soccer. The guy is awesome. He refers to a goal as a bulge in the old onion bag. He has translated modern soccer to people who only understand expressions from the Irish Potato Famine.

They let him run around for ninety minutes talking about what he loves. Then the game ends and they push him back in his cage and we’ll see him again next year.

Hated being stuck in traffic in shinguards

Hated being stuck in traffic in shinguards

A couple years ago David Beckham signed up to the play for the L.A. Galaxy MLS team with the promise of making soccer matter in America, which was sort of like if Tony Blair had joined Air America radio to make that matter as well.

Two months ago, the Galaxy loaned him to an Italian premierĀ team, AC Milan, to play during the Galaxy’s off-season. Now Beckham is having a solid season and is doesn’t want to return to the U.S.

Most people think that it’s because he misses playing in a country where soccer matters, or in a big-time league or having his passes actually be received. But in my opinion, I think the entire reason lies in the city of Los Angeles, California.

I don’t think Beckham knew what he was getting himself into when he moved out here, the same way no one else does when they move from places that are designed with logic. Sure he’s playing for the “L.A.” Galaxy, but when you’ve been stuck on the 110 for two hours to travel the eight miles to get to the wasteland between Compton and Long Beach, do you really start humming California Dreaming?

My theory is that Beckham googled “Home Depot Center” before he moved out here, and saw that it was relatively close to the beaches or downtown. “Surely there’s an easy way for the limo to get between there and the lovely, clean, warm, L.A. beach where I’ll be living,” he must have thought. Not knowing thatĀ a year later, he’d be stuck fighting traffic on the PCH to get to a Malibu beach with freezing filthy water only swimmable in late-August.

And on top of that, the 405 to the 91 is murder, especially if the game is at 8p and you need to get there during the afternoon rush at 5. Plus, when you get there, no one cheering you on speaks a word of English. It’s got nothing to do with soccer or America or pride. It’s all about L.A. It’s all about traffic.

Without training wheels

Without training wheels

I dislike it when people ask me about my extreme sport pursuits without recognizing the scant possibilities of doing anything close to extreme sports when you have a Jewish mother.

It’s a lose-lose situation. Either you go out and try and compete in extreme sports, but then you endlessly get nagged about your padding being insufficient, or the helmet isn’t strong enough. “So let’s get a new helmet.” “Oh, it’s so expensive, sweetie.” And then you find yourself in a body suit cushion like the Michellin Man.

And then if you give up extreme sports all together, you have your mother telling you that you ought to get outside. That passive-aggressive, “How can you watch TV on a beautiful day like this?” And then you get outside and “Watch out, there’s so many cars out there. You will die.”

Jewish extreme sports have thus degenerated to jaywalking, or loitering. Pathetic on the scale of the X-Games, but for the sake of adventure, man, it’s like a Bar Mitzvah all over again.

Godzilla (O.S.)

Godzilla (O.S.)

Ever have someone describe the details of the marathon or triathlon that they plan on running and you feel more fatigued than if you were to actually take part in the event?

Triathletes are the worst because they make you feel like such a waste of life. “I’m going to bike for 100 miles, swim 18 miles and then after that I run a marathon.”

“Yeah? Well I’m going to take a nap.”

I don’t think I’ve ever run a marathon, like cumulatively if you add up all the running I have ever done in my entire life.

The closest I’ve come is to do the exact opposite a triathlon. I wonder what the opposite of a triathlon would be. Like I went out drinking for nine hours, slept for fourteen hours and then masturbated a half-dozen times.

Los aficianados de los Dodgers

Los aficianados de los Dodgers

It seems like every year the left field bleachers at Dodger Stadium are increasingly turning into Juarez, Mexico.

Granted it’s a fine line between saying that places with an overwhelming number of a certain race are ghetto and not being offensive, but man, those left field bleachers are ghetto.

I tried buying Cracker Jacks and the guy only accepted Pesos. During batting practice, they just set up a pinata and if a ball hit it, candy would pour out for everyone.

In fact, I believe the Dodgers are going to do away with their A-level minor league ball team and just let the left field bleachers develop its own farm league. It’s not even one of those things where there’s language barriers. There’s no barriers at all. Just don’t speak English.

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