Is Dodger Stadium truly dangerous?

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The incident at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day has led to a lot of discussion about fan safety, but for some people who are familiar with Dodger Stadium, this is not a new problem. Here’s freelancer Paul Oberjuerge:

Aside from what appears to be the seriousness of the victim’s injuries, what is new about this?

It may be a dirty little secret, nationally, where the perception is that Dodgers fans are ultra-mellow. You know, “they come late and leave early!” thing. Too cool for school. In point of fact, Dodger Stadium has been filled with dozens, maybe even hundreds of thugs almost every game for years now. Obscenity-spewing, tatted-up gangsters, often-drunk, who can ruin a game for anyone in their vicinity.

They are particularly common in the pavilions and the top deck, but almost no part of the stands are safe, aside from the most expensive seats on the field level.

Yikes. I’ve only been to one Dodgers game in my life. I sat in the upper deck down the third base line where, according to Oberjuerge, the rabble like to rouse.  It was a weekend night and the beer was flowing, but I can’t say it felt hostile in any way. It just seemed like a lot of passionate fans were up there, not unlike the kind you’d see at many east coast stadiums, contrary to the popular stereotype of the L.A. baseball fan.

Was I just there on a good night? Is Oberjuerge right? Is Dodger Stadium a hostile place?  I have no idea.  The tale used to be that guards and ushers at Dodger Stadium were always smiling but always ruthless, enforcing a shiny happy code of conduct on people, turning the place into a somewhat scary but totally safe — maybe unnaturally safe and even sterile — playground.

Has this changed? I’m curious to hear from those of you who frequent Chavez Ravine of what the lay of the land is at Dodger Stadium these days. And how it compares to the Alston-Lasorda years.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.