Please Don’t Take Me Out to the Ball Game

(This column, from 6/4/92, was in The Beach Reporter newspaper.)

I know this will sound blasphemous, but I think that baseball is the most boring game in the world to watch. Actually, I guess that’s not completely true. Golf and bowling are more boring to watch. But baseball is right up there.

I used to go to the occasional Dodger game and pretend to be having a good time. But Picture Day at Dodger Stadium last summer did me in for good.

We started out for the stadium, a happy family of four, looking forward to a pleasant day at Dodger Stadium. We came home not speaking to one another and needing extensive family counseling.

The fun starts when you try to get into the parking lot. Six lines of cars inching their way up a steep hill to pay for parking is not my idea of fun. Especially if you are married to someone who always thinks the line next to you is moving faster, and cuts back and forth to save maybe thirty seconds of time.

I had envisioned Picture Day as described in the media literature: “A great opportunity for the whole family to take photos of their favorite players on the field.” My young son, the ultimate baseball fan, would actually get to meet his favorite players up close and personal, and snap a few photos for his baseball album. Not.The only way you got a photo of the players was if you were over 7 feet tall and had an Uzi slung over your shoulder. Or if you were my husband, who – being a native Angeleno, is used to getting to the front of unruly mobs of people. I took our children to our seats, which were about ten miles from the field.

This is how they do Picture Day. The spectators ring the field, about 100 deep at any spot. (The tall ones with the Uzis and my husband were in front, with their Minoltas at the ready.) The players come out to the field and walk around the perimeter of the field, posing every twenty feet or so. The lucky fans get a photo.

I ask you, why go through all that trouble when you can get baseball cards with the player’s photo in a pack of bubble gum at Thrifty’s? For that matter, you can buy a team photo of all the Dodgers or photos of individual players at most sports stores.

I mentioned this to my husband when he joined us at our seats. He was not receptive to any of my suggestions at that time. He looked as though he had just run the Boston Marathon with a ball and chain on his leg.

I wondered why 90 percent of the people at Dodger Stadium are there. Are they there for the game or the food? At any given moment, you can look around and see everyone in the entire stadium chewing on something. People spend more time getting up for snacks and standing in line for snacks and drinks than they do watching the game. We’re not talking health foods here, either. There is nothing to eat at Dodger Stadium that doesn’t have at least 1,000 calories and 20 grams of fat.

After I had spent my household food allowance for the next week, and stood in line for hours, and sweated in the hot sun and smog, I asked myself why I was there. I was a grown woman. I could make my own decisions. I could assume a new identity. Move to the coast of France. Take up painting. Maybe they wouldn’t find me… I was beginning to hallucinate from the heat., smog, and nitrates from my Dodger dog.

If I really wanted to listen to a game, I could do so in the comfort of my own home listening to Vin Scully, which is better than seeing the game in person anyway. I wouldn’t have to fight the crowds, the heat, the smog, the traffic, and spend more than $100 for food and souvenirs.

My husband could take the kids, and they could bond like crazy. I bonded with them all week. I didn’t need to bond at Dodger Stadium. Let them sit in back of a guy with a gut like he’s pregnant who has no shirt on, and who puffs away on a cheap cigar and watches another baseball game on his tiny portable TV.

Let them come home with peanut shells stuck to their socks and sticky shoes from spilled Cokes. Let them come home sunburned, not, tired and broke. I won’t even miss the Dodger dogs.

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