Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From now on I get to pass over Los Angeles

חג שמח, everyone! As many of you know last night marked the beginning of Passover (or Pesach if you want to sound conservative), and much like Moses leading the Israelites on an exodus out of Egypt (and with the exact same stakes), I made a frantic exit of my own on Saturday night. I spent this weekend in my favorite city, Los Angeles watching the New York Mets embarass themselves in Anaheim against the Angels, who will hence forth be referred to as the Anaheim Angels because, damnit, that's really what they are, and as the innings began to dwindle Saturday night it started to become very clear to me that perhaps I had packed my schedule just a little too tightly.

See, I have a tendency to be fairly lax with my travel plans these days, which is to say that I generally ignore all the hogwash about arriving at an airport three hours early or whatever they say it is these days. This is the product of years of arriving at the airport early and having absolutely nothing to do for two hours. While it's nice to get some reading time done, I always figured that maybe it wasn't necessary to kill time by the Gate for hours on end and dine on a $17 cheeseburger. This has occasionally gotten me into some trouble, but by and large it's been a more efficient use of my time.

There is a certain uncertainty that creeps into your head, however when you find yourself sitting in an airport bar watching the end of a Mets game being played 35 miles away that you were in attendance of just an hour earlier. Suppose, however, that is mostly Jose Valverde's fault.

I can explain.

Sunday was a particularly big day in my office and as such I had to be right in my usual desk chair at 10 a.m. New York time. This is a pretty standard part of my weekly routine, but it's a little more complicated when 12 hours earlier I'm in a baseball stadium 2,400 miles away.

"But Dave, why on Earth would you be so stupid as to plan a vacation like that?" I hear you asking. Well, as you all know, I'm on a mission. If you've ever read anything in this blog, you know that or you missed the entire point of this blog (or at least the header). I had not yet seen the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" (Fun fact: My friend Daitch pointed out to me that their name is really "The the Angels Angels of Anaheim"), and perhaps this was because they don't actually play in Los Angeles and I've never been to Anaheim in summer time. I'm no stranger to team names that aren't exactly accurate. The New York Giants and New York Jets toil in New Jersey. The Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington and the Detroit Pistons call Auburn Hills home.

But it's unusual that a team claims to be a part of one metro area when it already calls another one some 35 miles away home, particularly when doing so basically pisses off everybody. It's also problematic when no airports within a reasonable distance of that team's stadium have any flights that will get you back to New York leaving after 6 pm, but as I hadn't yet seen the Angels, and the Mets visit Anaheim approximately once every six years, I felt this was too important a chance to pass up the opportunity to cross Team No. 59 off the list, particularly considering this was the last team in the Los Angeles/Orange County metro area I had not seen, and doing so would mean I never had to return to a place that is, well, not for me.

Perhaps I was coaxed into this trip by the fact that Saturday's game was scheduled an hour earlier than normal, but I figured with the 6:05 p.m. start, an approximate 9 p.m. conclusion and two and a half hours between then and takeoff for my redeye from LAX, I should be fine. As the game itself approached all seemed well. I had actually somewhat enjoyed my time in Los Angeles, which included dinner with a few close friends (even if it was vegan), a hike to the Hollywood sign, tacos galore (though I did find one Mexican restaurant that somehow didn't have rice), a brush with fame on the Mets' Instagram feed and even a free baseball courtesy of Curtis Granderson.

Plus the goofy gigantic Angels hats outside the home plate entrance to Angel Stadium of Anaheim are pretty sweet.

All of the planning had gone off with few hitches despite the Mets losing the previous night on, of all things, a hit batter with the bases loaded in the 11th inning. The next day I had coordinated with Daitch for an easy exit from California. My bags were loaded into his car in the morning, and he was to park in a lot near an exit onto the highway. Once the final out was recorded we would sprint to the car and make our way to the airport.

Amazingly, the Mets were cooperating, too. New York had beaten up Anaheim starter (because if I took a 40-minute train ride where the conductor insisted only the Dodgers could call Los Angeles home, they're from Anaheim) Jered Weaver, and the game was being played at a surprisingly quick pace. At 8:45 p.m. the Mets held a three-run lead with Valverde coming in for the bottom of the ninth inning. Then the Angels were down to their last strike right as we approached 9 p.m. Then Angels suddenly had two men on with Raul Ibanez coming up to bat and I leaned over to Daitch and told him, "I don't like this one bit."

Then this happened.

This is my team. This is how it goes. This was how my trip in Los Angeles, Anaheim, or whatever you want to call it would end. Not with a win seen first hand, or even a loss, but with a game unnecessarily drawn out that I would not be able to see to the finish after flying across the country for it.

I gave the rest of my friends a disheartened smile and Daitch and I were off to LAX for a race against time, at least if L.A.'s traffic was going to rear its ugly head. Amazingly the ride was smooth and I managed to get to the airport in time for my flight and then some (though I did get into an argument with security personnel insisting my laptop constituted a second personal item). I sauntered up to the airport bar to watch the 13th inning and, wouldn't you know it, the Mets actually won a Major League Baseball game that night thanks to Anthony Recker.

In the end missing the conclusion to the game wasn't the end of the world, even if it was irritating, but the Mets managed to wish me a Happy Passover the next day so we're cool. On a sidenote, how has MLB not started marketing seder plates with team logos on them? After all, they already sell caskets. Would this be that much of a stretch?

I digress. It was a good trip. There was baseball, a free souvenir, some good exercise, friends, tacos, In-N-Out Burger, and the final team in "L.A." now gone from the list. I can safely rest knowing that I never have to go back to L.A. again unless, of course, the impossible happens. If that should ever come about, I'll be booking the plane flight as soon as I can.

I'll probably budget a little more time between the game and my flight, though.

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