Thursday, November 27, 2008

F The Dodgers

I hate the Dodgers.  I will still go to their games.  I will still root for them against the swill of the NL.  I will still give them money.  Lots of money.  For parking.  Fuck Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt and all the B.S. they pump out to the people of Los Angeles.  Is there really a choice between signing Manny Ramirez and building a bunch of baseball parks for kids?  I'm not the only bozo out here that sees that for what it is, am I?  It's ok if you don't want to pay Manny but come out with another justification.  I have never run a large organization but I am pretty sure I understand how segmented budgeting works.  You shouldn't be drawing funds for those two things from the same pool.  But you know what else you shouldn't do?  Ignore customer service requests from disabled fans consistently and protractedly.  Sorry for the clumsy segue but I need to put this up somewhere and the Dodgers don't give a fuck.

My girlfriend's life story is a ridiculous readymade for TV type of story involving bad doctors, a life-threatening mystery illness, a coma, long-term paralysis and the magical moment where she learned to walk in spite of what the doctors were saying.  She has problems walking and she has a big, goofy St. Bernard to act as a balance/stability dog.  When we decided to go to a Dodgers game we understood that there could be problems with seating because we would be there with a giant fucking dog.  That seems logical.  Stadiums aren't built for giant dogs.  They aren't even really built for giant people.  They're built for average-sized people from the '60s.

The morning of the game, before we'd completed our ticket purchase, I called the Dodgers ticket line to ask if there were certain sections we could sit in with the giant fucking dog.  The first person I asked didn't know so she transferred me to stadium security.  Fair enough, she doesn't know but the next person will.  Easy!  The next person who answered the phone didn't even explain he was transferring me.  He just mumbled "hlll don" and then I was on hold again.  Then another young lady came on and was stumped.  Then I was hold again.  Then somebody else told me that the ticket office would have to help out and he put me on hold before I could blurt out "No they can't!", which I did to more hold music.  Then the same girl who was stumped came on and finally just said (cheerfully, I should note) "Well, if you can't sit in (the fat-ass) section with the dog we can just move your seats.  It shouldn't be a problem!"  This quick and easy process took about an hour.  Which actually ended up being the easiest part of the day.  We bought our seats to the fatass section for $40 apiece and were off.

When we got to the Dodgers gigantic clusterfuck of the most over-priced parking in L.A. we asked the girl in the booth about handicapped parking.  She just kind of waved us on to say "You're holding up traffic."  We're jackasses for not just staying home and suing the team for the time I spent on the phone and are completely insane for thinking we were going to have a good time even up until this point.  If you've never been to Dodgers stadium there are rent-a-cops all over the place to check the parking ticket and tell you whether or not you are in the right lot.  None of them, from my experience, is entirely sure where the handicapped parking is or whether or not it's available.  One guy gave us instructions in the wrong direction and another one said "I think it's all full."  Great.  So we found parking but we hadn't factored in the part where we had to go pick up our tickets at will-call.  And we had to go find the little ticket kiosks to do that.  Fine for me, not so great for the girlfriend with the lack of cartilage in her knees and the problems walking.  Still, this seemed like poor planning on our part more than the stadiums, so we didn't get too pissed off.  We did walk past A LOT of handicapped parking spots that we could have known about if the little rent-a-cops were better informed but let's keep going, shall we?

We picked up the tickets with no incident, figured out where we're supposed to enter the stadium (I've been coming here for ten years and can never remember where the hell I'm going) and got up to the front of the security line.  And this is where the story gets stupid.  One of the cops there told us "You can't bring that dog in here."  I wish I'd gotten this guy's name because I believe that's actually illegal for him to say about a service dog in a vest and harness.  And then he walked off.  Another cop angrily explained to us that there wasn't space in the section for the dog to sit down.  The lady cop sitting at the little folding table listened to our explanation that we'd called ahead and were told that we'd just be moved to another section and asked us to step aside so the line could move forward.  Then she went on break.  The next lady cop (I guess that's the job for lady cops - sit at the folding table?) eyed us in a way that could be called wearily.  It's hot in Los Angeles in September and my girlfriend's illness is exacerbated by heat and sunlight.  We were not offered a seat, or water, or shade, or water for the dog.  And, I'm not joking or lying to say that the people in line right behind us were a family with a little girl in a wheelchair.  From looking at the girl I would guess she had ALS or something similar.  They were getting the same treatment as us.  They were sitting in the sun for 45 minutes waiting for some kid out of customer service to make his way down to us.  I have to point out that we had, all of us, paid for the fatass seats.  The all you can eat pavillion (yep, that's what it's called) sets.  And the giveaway for the game was bottled water.  But nobody offered us anything to eat or drink this whole time.  We were at the front of the security line in front of the right field line to hear the National Anthem for nearly an hour, baking in the sun with nobody offering help or even attention until the customer service kid came up to us to lead us to our seat.  He was a nice kid but isn't great with directions.  Over the next hour he lead our procession from downstairs in front of the right field line all the way around the stadium, up an elevator, to the handicapped seats at the very end of the stadium along the right field line.  Then he left to find folding chairs we could use.  A security guard nearby saw us and brought out some folding chairs to use before he showed up again 10 minutes later.  We had paid for all-you-can-eat and goddammit that's all that could make this worthwhile by now.  We sat down finally in the fifth inning.  It took five fucking innings for the Dodgers to find us seats.  Just like the customer service phone "helpers" said it would be - easy!  Now we were told to sit and wait for the guy to bring us some wristbands so we could get our all-you-can-eat from the hot dog stand right next to us.  It took another 15-20 minutes for him to show up.  It was the 6th inning when I finally got to order some food.  I had it in my mind I was going to make this worthwhile.  I was going to stage my own hot dog eating contest before leaving.  And then I got to the front of the line and was told we would have a special helper who would come to our seats and take care of us like a waiter.  Ramon was our guy, we didn't have to and weren't allowed to wait in line for food.  We just had to track Ramon down.

That's all fine and well.  We got our 4 hot dogs, 3 bottles of water, Coca-Cola and 2 nachos to make up for lost time and devoured the whole lot.  I can put away food like a garbage dump.  I'm not THAT fat (6'2, 205#) but I am still a bottomless pit.  By the end of the seventh (maybe an hour late) I wanted more garbage and my girlfriend wanted more water.  She wanted to stand and so she went searching for the guy.  She stood through an entire half inning waiting right next to the guy we'd just walked around the stadium with.  I told her to sit down and walked up to the guy at the counter.  I wanted him to call for Ramon again.  He did and was informed Ramon had left for the day.  What the fuck?  You work for a baseball team.  Baseball games last like 3 hours.  Your work day is about 4 hours and you had to take off early?  How do you pay rent or eat?  The guy at the counter finally just filled our orders.

We left before the end of the game.  We registered separate complaints by phone and by email.  We never received a response.  My girlfriend has complained several times now, has spoken at great length with customer service staff for the Dodgers, and the farthest that's gone is they asked for a copy of the tickets.  Haven't heard back from the club of their own accord, haven't been refunded any part of the $100 we spent on parking and tickets to watch about 3 innings from a spot in the stadium where you can't see the field, haven't been offered any free seats, free gear, anything.  Fuck the Dodgers.  Fuck the McCourts.  It appears my girlfriend will have to sue you to get your attention.

So why do I think of this now, two plus months since this happened?  I saw a crawl on the bottom of the screen while watching Georgetown suck against Wichita State saying the Dodgers are considering signing Andy Petitte.  He was great when he was 27 and had the best team in baseball history surrounding him.  He's now old, expensive and fragile.  He'll team up great with Jason Schmidt next year.  And I read the LA Times article where the McCourts were trying to decide if they should build some youth baseball fields or sign Manny Ramirez.  Are the McCourts really so shitty at business that they are drawing the money for those two things from the same budget?  Maybe if you are going to save money on Ramirez you could also spend a little to fix your bungling, bumbling, heartless staff of jackasses that work at your stadium.  I am not a lawyer and, for myself, I was not damaged by your organization's jackassery.  But my girlfriend was in the hospital two days later having surgery on her leg.  And I'm pretty sure that your lack of service and responsiveness should have some monetary ramifications for you.  There is no excuse for anything I ever see from the McCourts and I hope they lose everything in this world.  They even made me empathize with Bill Plaschke.  Which is not easy.  I hate that I will still go to Dodgers Stadium because I like baseball that much.  Maybe I'm wrong.