Just got back from the 2nd Annual Blogger Night at Dodger Stadium. Wow! What a blast that was. A special thanks to Josh Rawitch and Drew Merle for putting this great event together, and to the Mother Ship Dodger Blog for getting us bloggers noticed.
The event started with picking up our Preferred parking pass at the guard shack at the Sunset gate right when the stadium parking lot opened up at 5pm. After successfully finding Lot F, we wandered over to the Dodger offices and after some slight confusion we were welcomed and asked to sit in some seats overlooking the Dodgers batting practice and wait for the rest of our group to arrive. Around 530pm the experience started, and I call it an experience because it was just that, quite an experience. Being new to these events I didn't recognize any of the faces in the group and assumed Jon Weisman was late or off doing something else, because his would be the only face I'd recognize without a doubt. We were ushered into a conference room, seated around a large table. We were given an ID with some kind of special access pass on it to wear around our necks and told to put our names on it. We were then asked who had attended the previous event. Of course I didn't raise my hand, but over half the people did. Everyone introduced themselves by first name. I still didn't recognize any of the names, but who does in a room that is full of strangers to you. But thought it odd, that I didn't recognize atleast one name from many of the other Dodger bloggers.
Next up, we were then told why we had been brought here today and what our mission was. I thought that was kind of odd, I figured our mission was to sit in a Dodger Suite, meet each other, maybe meet a Dodger spokesperson or two and enjoy a baseball game. We were asked how many of us had the ambition of working for the Dodgers and becoming a Dodger Embassador. About two-thirds of the people raised their hands, which I thought odd coming from a group of Dodger bloggers. I mean, what the heck is a Dodger Embassador anyways? Do they represent the Dodgers at the United Nations!? Well, as I soon found out their job is to interact with Dodger fans, take in a game and mingle with the fans in the area and report back to the Dodgers what their "Fan Experience" was like. What experiences did they really enjoy or dislike, and what kind of recommendations did they have for the Dodgers to make the "fan experience" more enjoyable. I thought wow, this isn't exactly what I had in mind, but I will go along with it. Next we were told our actual mission and it was to be "seat fillers" behind home plate in an area that is called the "Dodger Dugout Club", which is a very very expensive place to sit if you have to buy your own tickets. Supposedly season seats go for $50K per year, and I don't know if that is per seat, or per two seats, but at $50K it didn't really enter my mind that it would ever be something I'd want to pay for. We were getting briefed on how to be a "seat filler" or what the Dodger employee called a "Page". Kind of like when you watch the Academy Awards on TV and when they have empty seats, they actually have volunteers (I assume they are volunteers) who will sit in empty seats until the actual person or people that have tickets for that seat arrive. I guess the Dodgers don't want to give the impression that there aren't people sitting in the seats behind home plate in the Dugout Club area to the television audience. We were then told that we'd be assigned seats to sit in by a Dodger employee who would be supervising the sortie from underneath one of the tunnels. And when someone arrived at their seat, you were to great them with "Hello, and welcome to Dodger Stadium", then get up and politely leave. You weren't suppose to eat any food at your seat as they didn't want anyone to arrive to their seat to a trashy mess and you weren't suppose to chat on your cellphone as this makes you look like an uninterested or typical Dugout Club Dodger fan, and lastly you had to take off your VIP pass so it would not be visible to the TV audience.
Wow! This was a lot of information to swallow for my first Dodger Blogger get together. It didn't seem like a very comfortable way to watch a Dodger game, even though you'd have terrific seats for 15 or possibly 20 minutes at a time, as you got shuffled in and out of the Dugout Club to different seating assignments. So one last time we introduced ourselves and this time I said something to the effect of, "My name is such and such, but I believe I may have been put with the wrong group of people, are the rest of you here for blogger night?" That got a good laugh from the group as it definitely was not "Blogger night" for this group of people and it became very ironic that I had heard a good 30 minutes of talk from the Dodger employer in charge of the Embassador program and the members trying to become Dodger Embassadors, because I'm sure some of the information (like this story I am telling), they probably would feel somewhat embarrassed of the public knowing it. Don't you think it's odd that the Dodgers have people filling seats behind home to make the stadium look full to the television audience? I was kind of shocked, and even more shocked that blogger night was going to have myself, guest and other Dodger bloggers playing musical chairs in some of the most expensive seats in the stadium. There were some other good stories I heard about the crowd control problem, which section of the stadiums have "the best" fans and "the worst" fans. What kind of experiences the security guards had recently had with the new alcohol enforcement policies in the parking lot and what some of the loopholes in the policy are. I guess I won't kiss and tell everything, but it was interesting nonetheless.
After finding out we were with the wrong group of VIP visitors, we eventually got in touch with Josh who scurried us and a few stragglers to the Tommy Lasorda suite where a crowd of probably around 30 bloggers and guests were chatting away. After a brief introduction of who we were and which blogs we were associated with Josh gave us a little introduction of who some of the guest speakers were going to be. This time I did recognize many names and even a few faces, I was finally at "Blogger Night", and would no longer have to worry about keeping a seat warm for a movie star or corporate banker. The highlight turned out to be a good 30 minute talk and question session from GM Ned Colletti. I actually ended up standing right next to him the whole time and got to shake his hand. He came across as a "no bullshit" type of person. He spoke what appeared to be the truth and seemed very genuine. Some of his opinions and cliches were "old school", like taking the Dodgers hot start with a grain of salt because it's called a baseball "season", not a baseball "month", and certain players he liked having on the team because they were good people. I think the exact words he used is that they were "adults" (Loretta, Ausmus) and acted like it. I believe he had to tone down some of his opinions a little bit, because after all he is the GM and is a very high ranking team spokesperson. It wasn't too hard to read between the lines on some of his opinions to see that there was more too them and that he really in fact had strong opinions but had to tone them down. One of those topics was Andruw Jones. He almost started to light into Andruw Jones and how he came to the Dodgers out of shape and ended up burning bridges with Dodger fans etc... Colletti is obviously not a big Andruw Jones fan, and I am not just talking about baseball. Another more subtle stab was made at Russell Martin and about how he was not a highly touted prospect when he was drafted and much of his success came from his great work ethic, which is probably true to a degree. I got the feeling that Colletti thanks that Russell has gotten away from that work ethic over the past year, and that matches some of the gossip about Russell and his party boy escapades.
In the Q&A Ned probably took around 10 questions from the Dodger Bloggers. I thought all of them were pretty good questions, I wasn't too crazy about the question/complaint about why we have to sing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch. Hey, it was a totally fair question but I guess since the singing of both God Bless America and Take Me Out To The Ballgame doesn't really bother me at all, it rubbed me the wrong way. Basically, the answer was that it was Jamie McCourt's idea and whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.
The game was great, the Dodgers broke the record for most consecutive wins to start the season at home. It's not every day you get to see a 98 year old baseball record fall that doesn't involve steroids. The Tommy Lasorda suite we were in was great. We were fed Dodger Dogs, sandwiches, cookies, soda and one of the most elaborate dessert trays you will ever see. I proudly admit, I didn't indulge myself from it. Ken Levine and Josh Suchon from Dodger Talk (KABC 790 AM radio) even stopped by to chat for a little while. They were mobbed, so didn't get a chance to meet them. For the most part I watched the game, but I would say that more than half of the people were chatting and getting caught up on old times which is fine too. Maybe next time, I won't be so shy and become one of the chatters. :)