The Mariners play the Angels tonight in Anaheim. Although I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that this stadium, while hosting a team that made a big fuss over calling themselves “Los Angeles Angels” rather than “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”, is bizarrely named "Angel Stadium of Anaheim", I’m still going to trek from San Diego to Orange County to see the matchup. Even more bizarrely, I’m driving 85 miles to watch the spectacular pitching duel of Ryan Rowland-Smith against Joe Saunders.â†µ
But it’s what we do, as sports fans. And, it seems to me, as baseball fans in particular. More so than traveling to watch our team take on a rival, we seek out baseball stadiums near the places where we vacation. Sometimes we plan vacations based upon visiting a ballpark—last year I traveled to San Francisco to take in two games at AT&T park. Sometimes the trips are a joy in the middle of a working trip, such as my dad taking in a game at the new Target Field while in Minnesota to work on his PhD.â†µ
And sometimes, we just want to be near the ballpark, even if there is no game going on. The last time I was in San Diego, it was February, and we stopped by Petco Park. Obviously there was nothing going on, but it had been four months since we’d seen any baseball, and by that point, a fan just wants to lean against the fence and remember that summer is coming.â†µ
And finally, sometimes we go because the park is hallowed ground. When I went to Boston, I knew there’d be no way I could get a ticket to a Red Sox game, but I wandered around Fenway, simply taking in the crowds and seeing the famous walls. A family trip to Chicago required having hot dogs and beer at Wrigley. These are the most famous grounds where are beloved sport takes place, and seeing them in person somehow entwines a fan even further into the sport.â†µ
So today, I go to Angel Stadium. Nothing sacred about that ballpark, although I’m hoping some winged visions will drift down to help the Mariners’ bats. Or they can come down and carry away Torii Hunter. But I’m guessing that tonight will just be a typical baseball experience, one held in reverence only because I’ll be at a new ballpark, sitting with good friends and being a fan.