The Dodgertown Family

I’m back in Dodgertown for the duration of the spring and as I was heading from Orlando’s airport to Vero Beach this morning, I thought of another interesting side of Spring Training that many of you probably don’t get to hear about, so I figured I’d pass it along.

As many of you may know, Vero Beach is somewhat of a retirement community and therefore, we have a lot of longtime Dodger fans who have moved here and take part-time jobs during the spring in various roles. One of those jobs is that of the drivers who shuttle back and forth to the airport to pick up players, staff and families and bring them to Dodgertown.

Today, my driver was Jerry, a lifelong Dodger fan from Texas who spent 30 years in the oil industry in Texas before moving here and taking his dream job working with the team. Apparently, he’s also a regular reader of Inside the Dodgers and it’s people like him who have the passion for the team that really make this place feel like a family. They’re all around Dodgertown, as ushers, security, receptionists, drivers…you name it, and they are all greatly appreciated by those of us who call Vero Beach home for more than a month each year.

Meanwhile, for those who want a small taste of Dodgertown from a distance, tune in tomorrow night for our game against the Cardinals on KCAL 9. The next two nights are actually both televised at 4:10 on the West Coast and 7:10 here in Florida.

33 Comments

That’s really great that those older fans get to fill those roles. It makes it sad, though, when you think what’s gonna happen when the team moves to Arizona. What will those fans do?

I don’t like the increased parking costs–espescially coupled with the increased ticket prices, and Josh, I think you need to pass this information on. Fans understand increased costs, of course, but that’s a huge jump in parking prices, and the elimination of the dame-day $6 ticket. Part of the beauty of Dodgers Baseball is that it has always been affordable, and it needs to stay that way. I won’t really lobby for a roll-back, but we expect to see prices stabilize and not go up again next year.

As for the parking scheme, it’s damned confusing, and frankly annoying for someone who’s in his 26th year attending games and gotten pretty used to the ins and outs. One of the difficulties is the change–I could always tell a buddy to meet up with me in Lot 7. The other nuisance is that while all freeways are accessible from all gates, some are more accessible than others. And if you are coming to the Stadium at rush hour in LA, just getting in to get to the game is a challenge, and now you will have to wind around outside the gates to get to the right parking area. If you are coming North through downtown on the 110, you naturally go to the “Downtown Gate,” but if your seats are in the Left Field Pavillion, this is no good. Also, I would often avoid that gate, and cut over on side streets to the “Sunset Gate” because the “Downtown Gate” is so narrow and gets so clogged. The other problem is that

All that being said, I give the Dodgers credit for studying this and trying to fix the problems. The parking and patterns have been the same since I was 7 (and, I presume, earlier), and actually got worse when Fox took over because they needlessly closed down parking lots), and it’s always been a nightmare. So I think two things need to happen:

1) As fans, let’s give this a chance, and make sure to aggressively comment as to whether it’s good, bad, or what improvements could be made; and

2) The Dodgers need to make a very public committment to study this as soon as the season starts, to take the comments to heart, and be prepared to make whatever changes are necessary even if during the season, and not waiting until the end of the year. Like I said, the management is due credit for taking on the issue, but they have to make sure it works out. I hope it’s like a lot of the concerns we had with personnell last off-season–we were worried, and the team turned out a winner, and poised for an even better ’07 (and 2008-2018).

In light of that, here are a couple of comments that the team needs to watch out for:

1) Overjamming gates, particularly at the “Downtown Gate”). Lot 10 (formerly Lot 7) is the easiest access gate for Top deck ticket-holders, plus non-season ticket holders for the Reserved (Blue/Turquoise) level, which probably makes up the bulk of game day sales, excluding perhaps the Pavillion. That all gets filtered into the Downtown Gate. along with a lot of other general lots that are good for non-Pavillion seating. Meanwhile, the Sunset Gate, which is the biggest, goes only to Lots 1 and 2, which I conventionally refer to as “BFE” because they amongst the least desireable parking locations. I think this may need to be re-jiggered. We’ll see, of course.

2) Season Ticket Holders can come in any gate. OK, that’s fine, and I understand that. But the real fans tend to be the game day purchasers. Season tickets are often big companies (I get some from my firm as often as I can, but most of the time I’m up in the Top Deck). The way you know this is true is if you watch a game in the second inning or eighth inning, and the season seats are empty while the Top Deck is full. Now, you’re making it harder for the real fans to park all for the benefit of the people who show up late and leave early. Plus, it’s cheaper, which is really unfair.

3) This leads to more jamming of the downtown gate. I suspect that a lot of season ticket holders will come through the “Downtown Gate” because it’s the easiest from the offices in downtown, and it’s also the easiest from the west side (across the 10 and up the 110). This really just goes back to point Number 1 about the flow at each of the gates, and with the Downtown gate already so narro. If this proves to be true, it will require re-jiggering what lots are assigned to the Downtown Gate.

Josh, please make sure that the parking engineers take a hard look at these things in April and May, because the system is likely to need some adjustments. I hope it works out well, and am willing to give it the chance.

Nice post, leekfink. I’m planning on arriving a couple hours early on opening day. It’s already crazy enough on opening day but with all the changes it’s probably going to be beyond madhouse.

Josh,

I’d like to second leekfink. ESPECIALLY in regards to the price stabilization. My season tickets went up multiple thousands of dollars. LET THIS BE ALL. I’m not sure what the real motivation for the price increases are, but i think focusing on the necessities while keeping the price down would truly be innovative. We dont need or want anything lavish, or desire major overhauls.

We’re gonna start with 11 pitchers which leaves open a place for Loney, Bigbie or Valdez. If Loney opens the season on the roster we lose both Bigbie and Valdez, so both of them become trade bait, cause it’s pretty obvious Loney will be on the club. Barring a setback for Repko or Anderson, Bigbie and Valdez are just out of space for a roster spot.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dodrep20mar20,1,6308684.story?coll=la-headlines-sports

Repko will start on the DL, if for no other reason becasue they can !! Bigbie has big bat potential, but Valdez has all around utility player about him. My money is on Bigbie because we need it more then Valdez. Next 2 weeks is NED-time !!! Time for Ned to earn his keep and work the phones !!! Change is in the wind and a big deal is in the making !!

Go Ned !!

Go Dodgers !!!

For those of you who asked on the last thread… I call Boise, Idaho my home these days. I left the San Fernando Valley back in 1999.

Ron… be careful what you offer, because I might just take you up on that! ; )

I left the valley in ’99 too, sparkuhl…did you happen to graduate from high school or college that year, or just live and work there and get sick of it?

“…but Valdez has all around utility player about him.” Again, Valdez has exactly ZERO experience, major or minors, except in middle IF.

IF Repko opens on the DL, I predict Bigbie as the 5th OF on Opening Day. Valdez is DFAed, clear waivers and holds down a Las Vegas middle IF spot next to Hu until Abreu heals.

Note that Repko is scheduled to play OF this week – seems like he might not be DLed to start the season.

grady decisions just keep getting worse and worse…now it looks like Loney is going to the minors

“”We have to consider the number of at-bats we’d get James,” Little said. “We don’t want to slow him down and have him go backward and then something happens here and he has to jump in. He needs to be ready.” ”

i think James is as ready has he’ll ever be.

Max, I completely agree with you, James Loney should never wear a 51’s jersey again. EVER! He’s ready, everyone knows he’s ready. It’s becoming remarkably familar to the situation with Ryan Howard in Philadelphia and how he was blocked by Jim Thome. Now I know Loney doesn’t have Howard’s power, but nonetheless this guy has potential to bat .340, he’s a gold glove in the making, he’s young where his power is a year or two away and we’ve all seen his flashes of power. Loney does not play in AAA, he doesn’t need to be ready. HE IS READY!

AGREED. Bite the bullet, move Nomar to third, trade betemit, Valdez/Bigbie, Hendrickson to someone, hopefully for something. I’d take 5 solid prospects… If they send Loney down i pray its not for more than half the season.
I am convinced that Nomar could play 120 healthy games at third base, especially if you go into the year knowing he gets 40 off. I dont know if that would bother him? He only played 120 games at first last year, and was injured for a solid 15-25 of them…

puppyhead… I moved here because I met a great gal. My time up here initially really was a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively. The slower pace and lack of freeway travel, not to mention how much further the dollar goes with property and such… and well, it was hard not to make the move. It’s funny though; the one freeway they do have here will get mildly congested during rush hour and people might get delayed fifteen minutes or so… and to hear them complain about it is simply priceless! If they only knew the HORROR of the 405 through Mulholland pass at rush hour!

Hey Gary… I just read your post on the previous thread! You’re on! But my wife’s suddenly contracted Dodger Fever as well over the past year… so I’ll have to bring her along as well. It’s fun watching her learn the game… she now “gets” the whole baseball thing.

Hi Josh, I’d just like to say that I too have concerns about the parking situation, and not just because it’s new or different. According to the official site, “On heavily attended games, the General Parking Lots will SELL OUT.”

Maybe since I’m not a local, and I’ve never passed through the turn styles later than the 2nd inning, I might be missing something, but I’ve been to many sellout games in my life and have scarcely, if ever, heard of an instance of the parking lot selling out. I wouldn’t be too worried about the likelihood of that except that after looking at the revised 2007 parking maps, it looks like many of the lots previously available to the public are now preferred parking only. It seems that some of the fans needs are being under/overestimated, and I hope that the parking situation doesn’t become overly messy because of this.

That being said, I agree with the previous posters that it is excellent that the parking issues are being addressed (as well as the concession stand wait time issues), and even though prices are going up (hopefully they’ve hit the ceiling for the next few years), as long as the payoff is a competitive ball club and the excellent Dodger Stadium experience I’ve grown to love over the years, 5 extra bucks is somewhat of a small price to pay. I’ll just hold off on the $9 beer.

About Loney being ready…I think you guys misunderstood Grady’s comment. He didn’t say he’s not ready for the big leagues…he was saying that if he is a major league bench player for half the season, he may not be ready bat-wise to step in and play full time later in the season, whereas if he’s getting daily ABs in AAA he’ll be more ready to play daily when he gets the callup. Which might be true.

Sparkuhl…sounds like exactly why a lot of people are moving out of LA. In Denver, we also get “traffic” and people complain, but it’s nothing like what I grew up driving in.

Bills and Kuo belong in the rotation. Loney should be at first. Keeping Nomar over Loney at first is wrong. Having Tomko and Hendy over our 2 young pitchers is also wrong. Tomko has never been good and Hendy was only good in the pen. It’s time to let the young guys play and get rid of the others. What good is having good young players if you don’t let them play? Management has to give these young players a chance, their time is now.

I wouldn’t fret too much about Loney- the kid is ready, and he looks like the real deal. He will get the ABs for the big club, if he has to open the year in AAA and gets called up in May, I dont see a problem with that. It’s a long year….

Keep Nomar at 1st and Betemit at 3rd…….put Loney in LF and either have Gonzalez come off the bench, trade him or figure out some kind of platoon situation. Gonzalez is the guy that needs to be pushed out of the lineup.

I agree with you 100% drj884. We all know that Loney is ready and I agree that he will be called up in May (or sooner, if there is an injury), just as Russell Martin was last season.

I believe that Grady will have Bigbie and Valdez on his opening day roster (with Repko on the 15 day DL, for no other reason than to free up a spot on the roster) and he will play them as needed unless/until they falter. If/when that happens, they will be DFA’d and Loney will be brought up to stay.

Also, as much as I like the guy (Big Time), I fear that Ramon Martinez may be DFA’d (for one of the lefties) if he does not agree to go to Las Vegas. (I’m not even sure that is an option with him).

We are all in agreement that Loney is ready, but if Bigbie and Valdez are not on the opening day roster, we will lose them for good. Don’t forget that they have been two of our best hitters during Spring Training.

I also agree with Gary that “Change is in the wind and a big deal is in the making!!…”.

Hey Kevin, I bet you got a chuckle out of puppyhead01’s comment: “…did you happen to graduate from high school (in 1999) or college that year.” (No offense puppyhead, but Kevin was pushing 50 in 1999, as was I).

Also, Kevin, I am absolutely sincere about joining me for a game or two, should you come to town. Just say the word and I’ll pick up an extra ticket for your lovely bride. BTW, I was born and raised (and still work) in Burbank, a short 10 minutes from the Ravine. I live in Santa Clarita.

GO DODGERS!

PS: Only 20 more days until the Home Opener!

JOSH, I checked all the different parking sites, and I Couldn’t find any reference to handicapped parking. Could you please Address This as that is where I Have to Park. Thank You!
Go Blue…..

http://sports-ak.espn.go.com/mlb/index

Got to love that folks!!!

Ok Josh, it’s my turn. The website says: “…you will be directed to park in a specific parking lot and specific parking space.”

I ALWAYS arrive early and have always parked in the same parking space (which allows me a quit egress from the lot). Will I still be able to do this?

Also, as I have already noted, I am very disappointed by the 50% increase in parking fees. An increase to $12 would have been a little easier to swallow, especially when you consider that L.A.’s “other” MLB team charges only $8.00 to park at their stadium.

GO DODGERS!

Revised prediction on Bigbie, because Bigbie has his own options:

Bigbie opts-out at the end of March and hooks on with a more OF-hungry team where he will be nearly guaranteed a MLB roster spot.

I live in SF and have to pay $25 to park when I go root for the Giants to loose.

Dr.J… I saw last night on “24” where Jack Bauer saved San Francisco from nuclear distruction. That drone was headed straight for AT&T Park, and now I hate Jack Bauer!

53… you’re the man! We’ve been planning to visit family in Riverside and catch a game at the Ravine sometime in the summer. We’re just in the planning stages yet so nothing is finalized yet. I’ll let you know… and you too Gary! : )

Thank Heaven for MLB Extra Innings on DirecTV!

Go Dodgers!!

Oh… and would someone please take McCourt to task today on the chat?? I really think they’ll get several questions/comments about this new parking thing… but I have a feeling that whomever is screening the questions won’t have the balls to let McCourt answer for this sharp increase in parking of his.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2007/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=2805379

Here’s a direct link to the ESPN article all about the prospects…paints a pretty sunny picture I think.

Yeah Ron… Puppyhead’s comment was good. But don’t get me in that 50 year old club just yet! I’ve still got another 5 1/2 years before that dreaded event happens in my life! I’ve yet to fully enjoy my mid forties… but I’ll get there soon enough. And when I do, that would mean that you’re pushing… oh never mind!

Where in the Valley did you live sparkuhl? I grew up in North Hills, near Nordhoff and Woodley.

“I’ve yet to fully enjoy my mid forties…”

One of the best times of my life. Enjoy it well Kevin. It passes VERY quickly.

kss

That would be the only way to prevent the Giants from securing last place this year.

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