Angel Stadium: Unremarkable, But Odd

Angel Stadium of Anaheim marks the 16th MLB ballpark I’ve visited my slow march around the league, if you count the time I visited Cleveland when the Mariners series snowed out there in 2007. I feel like I don’t have much to say about the stadium itself; the physical location was kind of boring all things considered, but so very many things about the experience were just a little “off,” in my opinion, and in that sense it was jarring.

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I drove to Angel Stadium from San Diego for two Mariners-Angels games in the final series, and was struck by the expansive parking lot surrounding the stadium. Sure, Oakland has a big old parking lot, and Miller Park in Milwaukee is similar, but I’m just used to parks like Safeco Field or Coors Field where that just isn’t a possibility. Additionally, Oakland has the benefit of public transit, which doesn’t exist so much in Southern California. Luckily, parking was only $10, which was refreshing after frequently seeing prices in the 20s and 40s in Seattle, or even higher for bigger games.

The section numbers at Angel Stadium also struck me as unusual. Though they had the standard three tiers of seating, sections numbered up into the 500s because of how they organized the sections. Entering through the home plate gate put you into a lower concourse, blocked off from the field, where you could enter into a walkway in between the 100- and 200-numbered sections. Above the 200 sections was the concourse you’re more familiar with where you can see much of the action. Here’s the view from the “200-level”:

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Despite not being all that busy – I seriously doubt the Angels’ claims of 30,000+ in attendance for this series – the concession stands up on the 200-level concourse always seemed busy with relatively long lines, so I wound up walking the ballpark when I realized that I wasn’t hearing the radio play by play of the game anywhere. When I arrived in Center Field, I noticed that there weren’t any speakers for the PA system, so standing around and watching the game gave this sense of not actually being at the game, like it was a Wrigley Field Rooftop, except that I was clearly still in the ballpark.

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Speaking of the PA system, the home team was only ever referred to as the Angels. Not the “Los Angeles Angels,” and especially not the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.” I even noticed that the out of town scoreboard referred to the Dodgers as simply “LA,” not even the “LAD” that you see everywhere else. For a team that was so adamant about being LA that it was willing to append “of Anaheim” to the end of their name, that struck me as super weird.

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The Angels have won the American League West nine times in their history, and their division championships are featured prominently upon entry into the stadium and on flags in the outfield. I didn’t think much of it until they showed a pregame montage, set to Train’s “Calling All Angels,” that reviewed team history and included the clinching moments from those nine seasons.

I was a little surprised that the montage of clinchers didn’t seem to mean anything to me, but then again, I’ve been noticing recently that we hardly ever talk about the 1997 Mariners club that won the division, hit more home runs than any team in history (264), and reached 90 wins for the first time. Instead, Mariners historical conversations are always about 1995 and 2001.

Both the ’95 and ’01 Mariners were historically remarkable, so that keeps the conversation going, but I’m not sure there has been anything remarkable about the Angels up until Mike Trout. They’ve had some good players over the years, especially their 1990s outfield of Tim Salmon, Jim Edmonds, and Garrett Anderson, but Chuck Finley is the Angels’ all-time #2 in Wins Above Replacement. To some degree, a team wins a title every year (except 1994), so the winning of a division or a World Series is not necessarily all that remarkable, but an unlikely comeback like 1995 or a record-breaking win total like 2001 really reach another level.

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