Just as there is no joy in Mudville, it seems there is no hope at Angels Stadium. Every win now garners a half-hearted cheer as the stats move to reflect the year being a little less bad. Every loss is met with a shrug and a scowl. With the club all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, it could be said the clubhouse aura is more akin to a terminally ill patient waiting for the end than a team of professional baseball players.
All of this makes now the perfect time to showcase the highlights of Angels Stadium! If you're not going to enjoy the game, you should at least be able to enjoy the atmosphere! The Big A seems to undergo a face lift every off-season with new additions coming every year. The yearly sponsor shuffle also contributes to the look and feel of the park. Yet somehow, it always feels like it's home.
Beer at the ballpark is an almost universal staple. From Osaka to Miami, and beyond, you will most likely find some form of hopped and malted alco-beverage at any stadium you visit. Angels Stadium has a passable selection if you're willing to walk a bit. The big selling point though lies not in the quality, but the presentation. The Budweiser pavilion gives you a slice of backyard BBQ feel right at the stadium. Let's face it, there are worse ways to spend an Orange County summer day than at the ballpark with a cold beer. Even if the team is playing lousy, you're getting hammered. You'll either not care, or pay meticulously close attention to the game so that you can call the radio station's post-game show and tell all of the listeners you know EXACTLY what it takes to fix the team!
The Big A has a unique experience on the right field terrace. Just underneath the flowing lager of the Budweiser Pavilion, the Angels' Kids Area spreads out with a selection of video games, carnival-style skills challenges, and photo ops. Angels are behind more than 4 runs? Go play some MLB 2K14 on the XBOX and see if you can do better. Stop and throw a ring over a baseball player cutout to win! Test your pitching speed and make a case as to why you should replace Joe Blanton. Take a picture with your face in the baseball card frame. Maybe you can be the next over-priced Arte Moreno name grab to join the team!
Ever been on TV? The Fox Sports broadcast booth provides a unique opportunity for crazy fans to wave their arms, scream team support, jump up and down, get on your cell phone and tell your friends to tune in, or just shout how much you love Victor Rojas, Mark Gubizca, Jose Mota, and the rest of the announce team. If you're lucky, you may get an autograph without even getting to the park early for batting practice! A word of caution though: If you've spent too much time in the aforementioned Budweiser Pavilion, you may want to steer clear of this particular attraction. Something about this area tends to make the inebriated break out in handcuffs.
Of course we love the team, but the writing is on the wall. We can watch the rest of the games of the regular season, but for all but the most starry-eyed optimists, the team is truly limping towards elimination. So, we look to the silver linings. Maybe the September rookie showcase will give us something, or someone, to look forward to. Maybe Jerry DiPoto pulls some secret Batman moves and ninjas out a decent trade deal. Maybe Josh Hamilton learns not to be so rattled after taking a strike on the first pitch. Anything could happen that is cause for excitement, but there's no shame in cooling down a bit until that spark hits. Baseball fans can enjoy a game no matter what teams are playing, maybe now is the time for Angels fans to take in the game as a whole-package fan experience instead of a single team fan experience.
Unless the Yankees or Rangers are in town. Then we can be as angry, frustrated, and/or Sciosciafaced as we please.