Day two in Cali and the clouds were still out and it was chilly, but that couldn’t deter me from spending my afternoon at Manhattan Beach (with a coffee to keep me warm) before making the hour drive out to Anaheim for an Angels game. I checked in my hotel first and that is another story. The hotel sent me to dirty rooms, twice. Mind you this was three hours after the check-in, so they should be cleaned by then! I booked this hotel through Expedia’s unpublished rates since they were cheaper than Priceline’s and now I know why! The room was cleaned, but it still had stains on the bed and was pretty gross. Glad I only stayed one night. After the delay, I drove down Katella Ave. to the ballpark and parked in a $5 lot off S. Douglass Road. The lot was right across from JT Schmid’s (for those looking for a place to pre-game or eat) and only a 10-minute walk to the park. Parking next to the stadium is $10 and there is an Amtrak stop just north of the ballpark as well.
Angel Stadium is another park surrounded by a sea of asphalt and the ballpark almost seems hidden by a gate and surrounding “forest” until you hit the home plate entrance. Here you are dazzled by giant Angel baseball caps, large wooden bats, posters of prominent players, and a life size baseball diamond. They sure now how to welcome people into the park! The stadium facade is a terracotta color and the green accents and seats make all the red pop even more. I bought an upper deck ticket from the main ticket gate for $8 and entered the stadium.
The 100 level concourse doesn’t fully go around the park, stopping at either end of the outfield, but it’s lined with plenty of concessions, team shops, and what might have been the largest assortment of alcohol in any stadium I’ve visited. Seriously, it felt like every brand had its own display and section. The entrance to the Diamond Club is on this level and across from that is a nice display of the 2002 season complete with the hat Gene Autry wore during game seven and of course the trophy.
After a brief circle around the case wishing I had a championship ring of my own, I walked out to the field to get a close up look at Albert Pujols. Not going to lie, I was really excited to see him play in person and was surprised he wasn’t bigger. Just looked un-majestic or something, I was a little disappointed. He and some of the other Angels were warming up when I saw a blast from the past- Jim Thome. I had forgotten he went to the Orioles and I made sure to give him a glare. Even though I’m not an Indians fan anymore, I’m still mad he left Cleveland. GRRR!
Before the anthem, I headed up to the concourse behind the 200 level seats to watch the first at-bat before continuing my circle around the ballpark. There is plenty of standing room at this level (except behind home plate), you just have to stand behind the blue line and the ushers are very, very, very diligent about this. Not even a toe can cross! No worries, I walked to the outfield to get a closer look at what I like to call “Pride Rock.”
The outfield concourse is wide open and I liked the standing room better here since it didn’t seem like you were in people walking’s way. Just to the left of the bullpens, the collection of rocks in center field serves as a lovely fountain and focal point for an otherwise uneventful outfield. The batter’s eye is a glassy plain and behind it sits a large bar that was surprisingly void of people.
Probably because there wasn’t much of a view of the game from here, just the Fox Sports set. Going under the bleachers, I found the kid zone, which is free on Sundays. I did get excited for the charge your cellphone port since I tend to use up my phone’s battery in a flash, taking pictures and social mediaing. While my phone charged I managed clear away some kids and take a baseball card picture of my own. Future star right?
Before going up to my seats, I walked down the ramps to look around the first baseline courtyard. There are two courtyards that flank either baseline and house a few concessions and are littered with statues and trees that look like they’re from the Serengeti. Honestly, for me, this ballpark screams Lion King to me and that kind of makes sense since the team was owned by Disney for a while. It just has a magic kingdom feel to it that I don’t think fits with baseball. After checking for Rafiki in the giant tree, I hopped on an escalator and rode past the suite and club level (300), up to the 400 and 500 concourses.
This concourse is narrow and provides the same amenities as the others while providing a nice view of Anaheim and the Big A in the parking lot. I watched most of the remainder of the game from my seat, which had a great view of the action and the stadium. Being elevated also provided me a good view of how the outfield grass was mowed. That usually doesn’t interest me too much, but the outfield looks like it has devil horns. Subliminal message from Disney anyone??
The game was a long one since neither pitcher showed up. I managed to keep my home run streak alive and saw a rare home team victory (Angels over Baltimore 8-7). After the game, I grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant, Ricardo’s that had caught my eye when driving to the stadium and headed back to my hotel.
For this trip, I spent $8 on my ticket, $5 on parking, $17 on food, and $73 on my hotel room. Angel Stadium is just ok for me. I don’t know why I don’t like it more since it is bursting with home team pride and the stadium staff is incredibly gracious and kind. For an older park, it looks quite new thanks to a facelift in 1998. Maybe that’s the problem- they erased the charm that comes with aging.