A Visit to Dodger Stadium with the Boys

The boys were only in their second week of school when Robert surprised me by saying that I was gonna get to take the boys to Dodger Stadium on the night of September 1…Robert somehow knew that it was Corey Seager’s bobblehead night, and also somehow knew that I really like Seager as a player, and he said it would be good for the boys to spend an evening outside in the fresh air.

He asked where I like to sit, and I told him I liked to be towards the front of the reserve, since you can see the whole game from there. The next day, I had three tickets on my phone for the first row of the reserve, just to the right of home plate.

I was totally down for it, although I’ve only been the kid who got taken to baseball games; I’ve never been the grown-up who takes the kids. I was a little surprised because it was a school night, but the boys said they’d do their homework quickly before it was time for us to leave for the game. I’m not sure how much they actually got done, since I wanted to leave for the ballpark pretty early, partly because I didn’t want to miss out on the bobblehead, and partly because (like y’all know) I like to get my hot dogs out of the way before the game starts. I reckoned it would be good to teach the boys the same lesson, especially as Jacob brought his scorebook along and it’s just hard to keep score when you’re trying to juggle a hot dog and a coke along with your pencil.

We were in our jerseys and in the SUV by 5:30. My jersey’s still Seager, while the ones I got for the boys just in case we’d get to go to Dodger Stadium were Bellinger for Jacob (who really likes him as a player) and Kershaw for Matteo (who doesn’t really have a favorite Dodger, but I figured you can’t go wrong with a Kershaw jersey.)

When you live north of Dodger Stadium, it’s easy to get there: you just take the 110 south and you don’t even hit a whole lot of traffic. So we got there in plenty of time, like before 6:00 for a 7:10 first pitch.

Hard to believe, but this was the first game I’ve gone to since COVID, so this was the first time I got to see the new Centerfield Plaza. It’s nice, but it’s nothing to get super excited about. Of course they made us park as far away as possible from where we were sitting, although we still had plenty of time and it was kinda cool to show the boys around. I was surprised by it, but this was the first time they were at Dodger Stadium, and they were pretty excited to see the place live after we’d seen it on TV all summer long.

I gotta admit that I was pretty dang afraid of losing the boys in the crowd, although they both had their phones so it wouldn’t be hard finding them if they did get lost. I still made sure to set a place to go to in case we got separated, and then they started making fun of me.

“Hunter,” Jacob said, “we’re not 5! We can find our way back to our seats. It’s not that complicated. But if it makes you feel better, yeah, sure, we can meet by the Dodger Dog stand behind Section 8 if we get separated.”

“Good…I just don’t want either of you guys getting lost…”

“On your watch, we know,” said Matteo. “We’ve heard it like a thousand times.”

“You guys are my responsibility, and I don’t want to have to go back to your parents and admit that I lost one of you at Dodger Stadium.” I have to admit that I was also a little concerned – just a little – that maybe the boys would be targets for kidnapping or something, since, let’s face it, they are kinda high profile and appear on TV just about every week. Maya and Robert have never said anything about that, but, well…when someone else’s kids are your responsibility, you start worrying.

The worrying turned out to be unnecessary. We stuck together, got our Dodger dogs, went to our seats, and stayed put until the seventh inning, when it was ice cream time. Just as well, too…the top of the 7th was when Eddie Rosario tied it with a 2-shot homer. (It got worse before it got better when Dansby Swanson homered in the 8th and got the Braves ahead 3-2…) The boys didn’t even have to get up and go to the bathroom, which was good, since I wasn’t sure I should let them go alone. On the other hand, I’d of felt totally lameass escorting a 12 year old boy to the restroom.

Luckily the worries about the boys didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the game. All three of us paid pretty close attention – me and Jacob because we wanted the Dodgers to do everything they could to get ahead of San Francisco, and Jacob because he was super into his scorebook. (I had mine too…and brought along a few extra pencils, one of which Matteo needed before he was done.) I don’t know how much Matteo cares about Los Doyers…but he does care about keeping a good record of every game he watches. I think it’s teaching him to appreciate baseball. It’s kinda weird, since it usually goes in the other direction: first you learn to care about the game, then you learn how to keep score…but Matteo’s his own kind of kid, and I’m just glad that he’s got any kind of interest in baseball.

The best part of the game was the bottom of the 8th, when the Dodgers pulled ahead of the Braves again on a Trea Turner double (you gotta acknowledge what a good player he is, even if I don’t exactly love him yet like some of the guys who’ve been with the team longer), a walk from Seager, and two singles from Justin Turner and AJ Pollock. Both Turners scored, pulling the Dodgers ahead 4-3, which was all it took, even if it did leave Seager stranded at 2nd on his bobblehead night. (He almost homered in the 7th, but got robbed at the wall. Remember how the THuG stat we invented in high school gives batters partial credit for getting robbed? That’s why.)

The other highlight was Scherzer, who pitched 6 innings with 9 Ks and no walks. That was pretty dang impressive. Maybe it’s a little like with Trea Turner and I haven’t fully accepted him as a Dodger emotionally, but, dang, can the dude ever pitch. I love Kershaw and Buehler…but just think what a luxury it’ll be having Scherzer as part of the rotation in the postseason.

(I also gotta tip my cap to Kelly for making quick work of the last inning.  I’m a lot less nervous with him closing than I am with Jansen.)

We stayed until the end of the game – I always stay to the end of the game, even when it’s pretty pointless – and the boys stayed wide awake the whole time. They even wanted us to stop in the team store on the way out. We did…and Jacob got himself a new keychain while Matteo picked out a plush Dodger Dog. It looked kinda weird to me, but it was what he wanted…and he seemed to really like it. Robert didn’t expressly say that I should buy them souvenirs, but, hey, how often do they go to Dodger Stadium? It was kind of an occasion, and, well, I know that kids like souvenirs.

I wondered if they were going to sleep on the way home – not that it’s all that far – but, no, they were both excited and still talking about the game, especially that cool 8th inning. Only thing is it was tricky getting out of the parking lot, since there’s only one gate that leads to the 110 (at least I think there’s only one), and we were parked totally on the opposite side of the stadium from that. Still, I managed to find it (the boys were no help at all and I was getting a little flustered trying to avoid being forced out an exit that led to who the fuck knows where), and we were home in no time after that.

The only problem is that I had two overtired and somewhat overexcited boys on my hands…and at 11 PM on a school night. That meant I needed to get them to bed as quickly as possible, but that was easier said than done. First they wanted something to drink (Belen left a pitcher of jamaica in the refrigerator for us when we got back), then…let’s just say it was a lot of excuses times two. Robert and Maya’s light was still on in their bedroom, but I didn’t want to disturb them, and the boys didn’t seem to want to, either. I don’t usually put the boys “to bed”, largely because they’re too big for that and they know how to brush their teeth and put on their pajamas. So I don’t have a lot of experience getting kids to go to sleep. I finally got them into bed and, once they were there and I put their lights out, I could tell they fell asleep right away. But it was cool that they were a little too excited to go to bed right away after the game. It showed they had a good time.

I was pretty tired, too. The whole supervising the boys in public thing was basically new to me…and I felt I deserved the beer I obviously didn’t have while I was on duty at the ballpark. Then I suddenly got super tired and dozed off on the couch, still wearing my jersey, and without calling Joyce like I usually do. When I woke up, the beer was half-finished and warm, and, when I looked at the clock, it was almost 2. Way too late to call Joyce…who I hoped would understand. She usually thinks it’s kinda cute, the way I’m taking care of the boys without really knowing what I’m doing…so she’ll probably be cool with my not having called her last night.

Then I got out of my jersey and into my own pajamas, although I was still half asleep. At least I remembered to set the alarm. When it woke me up at 6:55, I found that I’d fallen asleep on top of the comforter and hadn’t even gotten under the covers. Looking back on last night, I found myself wondering if taking kids out gets less tiring the more practice you have. It would be cool if it did, since I really did enjoy taking them out to the ballgame.

And, now I’ve proven I can take them out, not lose them, and not have them get COVID, there’s a whole lot of other cool stuff we can do together.

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