The Yanks were at Chavez Ravine for the third time since inter-league play began in 1997 last week, and your humble West Coast reporter got to go to both games. This took the collective effort of old friends from the Left Field Pavilion, a group of season ticket holders I was once a part of (and once dubbed the Pav Left’s Dogs), lifelong Dodger fans who knew my split allegiances in this game would inevitably lean towards the visitors, and yet my man Randy regifted me a sweet Yankee shirt somebody had recently given him (a very nice gesture, fighting his initial impulses to simply burn it).
Gone are the early days of this season when the Bombers were uncharacteristically playing in half-empty National League Parks, not quite the attraction without Jeter (sure, half the team’s stars were also out, but I’m pretty sure it’s still Jeter the crowds come out to see), for Jeter had finally returned just in time for the series, and the Dodgers have been red hot and playing attractive baseball riding Puig and Hanley Ramirez from the bottom to the top of the NL West in less than a month. This means that, for the first time this season, Dodger Stadium traffic had started down on Sunset below my house, some three miles away. It took me 40 minutes to drive those three miles on Tuesday…and fifteen to do it on my bike the next night (not counting the few minutes I stopped at this Vietnamese place in Echo Park for a pulled pork banh mi with a fried egg on top, a gooey ballpark dinner..is this in keeping with Yim?).
Needless to say, the bike is the only way to go…it’s a quick ride through colorful neighborhoods with great food smells, though on a busy night like this it’s a bit like the old coin-op classic Paper Boy, where you have to weave around hazards like cars and bums and, in this case, car doors blindly opening in front of you, and dudes selling cheap t-shirts and tickets. At the bottom of Elysian Park I got to pull out into the intersection and watch the traffic cops dance and shimmy and move the lines of cars like snake charmers. Pushing up a short climb to the entrance you pedal past the lines of cars inching their way up, the air thick with the chemical fire smell of brakes and clutch. You can pedal right around the entrance booths and the $10 parking fee, and there’s a bike rack right by the entrance to the Left Field Pavilion, while the lines of cars are still being shunted to the furthest corners of the vast lots. Like I said, biking is only way to get there.
After watching the Yanks on MLB.tv all season, it was more fun than even I expected to finally see them in person again. I enjoyed noting that the Yanks with Ichiro, Gardner, and Soriano sport an all high-sock outfield. It was a playoff atmosphere, with plenty of celebrities to show on the Diamond Vision (the best one: Mel Brooks), and the crowds rained lustful “Yankees suck!” chants throughout the night, but at one point there was an overriding momentum of “Let’s go Yankees.” The kiss-cam sought out couples wearing shirts from both sides, all lovey dovey. I got to see Jeter for what is looking like one of the brief, rare stints this season where he’s not on the DL. Better yet, the two days didn’t go by without a Mariano Rivera appearance, though it did appear that the Umps did everything in their power to steer that second game towards that conclusion. He held up his end. As I was unlocking the bike and saddling up afterwards, some guy in a Dodger shirt commended my bravery for riding back through the neighborhood in my Yankee shirt. I agreed, but he quickly complimented that it was a great game. Great series, I said, pushing off and slipping through the crowds and past the cars all jammed waiting in line. I got home before most of them left the lot.