Steve Lopez: Lots of security, few fans at Dodger Stadium [Live blog]
I just got to Dodger Stadium, and my buddy Nathaniel Ayers is confused.
"There's nobody here," he said, which isn't far off the mark.
There might be more cops, security guards and stadium employees than fans.
But if you saw Wednesday's news, the employees might not get paid next month. Owner Frank McCourt has houses next door to each other in Holmby Hills and Malibu, but The Times reported that he might not be able to make payroll.
It's becoming more like a minor league operation every day, but at least the food is half price at the ballpark Wednesday.
Plenty of seats available folks, roughly 50,000 or so.
Come on out to the park and say goodbye to the McCourts.
[Updated at 12:23 p.m.: I may be witnessing history.
Dodger fans are notorious for late arrivals, but today's game has begun and I've seen more people at Tommy's Burgers on Beverly Boulevard than I see in the ballpark. Is this the end -- a new low for the Dodgers under McCourt?
Help me out, folks. What was the lowest attendance in Dodger Stadium history? When you figure that out, please come to the ballpark.
This is embarrassing.]
-- McCourt couldn't afford to send the regular uniforms to the laundromat.
-- They actually wanted to wear these uniforms but the person who stitches names on the backs was busy installing new curtains at one of Jamie McCourt's mansions.
-- The Dodgers figured that even with names on their backs, we still wouldn't know who these players are, so why bother?]
IN THE SUN TOO LONG
[Updated at 1:10 p.m.: So this guy comes out of the sun to sit next to us in the shade and says he almost gave up his piece of a season ticket plan after last year's lousy Dodger season.
The quality of the team went down and ticket prices went up, says screenwriter Tom Ropelewski. He and his mates intended to drop out, but the Dodgers offered a deal on some cheaper seats.
Ropelewski said he actually likes the looks of this Dodger team, so obviously he was in the sun too long.]
MINOR LEAGUE BALL
[Updated at 1:19 pm.: To begin the third inning, the Dodgers just flubbed an easy-out pop-up to short left field. A guy named Russ Mitchell is playing third base for the Dodgers. Aaron Miles is at second and Dioner Navarro is the catcher.
Andre Ethier, the only Dodger anyone wanted to see, is not in the lineup. My guess is he quit.
On the bright side, there could be as many as 15,000 fans here now. You know, I've always wanted to see minor league baseball in Southern California, but Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore are too far.
Thank you, Dodgers. Now I can see minor league baseball without leaving L.A.]
B for Brooklyn
[Updated at 1:26 p.m.: Oh, now I get it. The Dodgers have a "B" on their hats today, so I thought they sent the B squad onto the field. Gibbons, Mitchell, Miles, Navarro, Gwynn. But the B is for Brooklyn Dodgers.
I was going to wear my Brooklyn ballcap to the park today but feared I'd be savagely beaten by idiot fans who thought the B stood for Boston, as in Red Sox. Fifth inning. Guy named Soto, with two homers all season, just hit his third. Cubs 1, Dodgers 0.]
SLIPPING INTO COMAS
[Updated at 1:45 p.m.: Now a guy named Pena, batting eighth in the Cubs lineup and hitting .162, just hit a home run that nearly landed in Eagle Rock.
Cubs 2, Dodgers 0.
A fan threw the ball back onto the field; probably someone worried that Frank McCourt can't afford any new ones. Now Marlon Byrd, a Cub with no homers, just launched a three-run blast into orbit.
Cubs 5, Dodgers 0.
All the fans near me have slipped into comas, much like the Dodgers themselves.
[Updated at 1:57 p.m.: Dodger rally! Runners on first and third, no outs. Sacrifice fly and the Dodgers are on the board. My buddy Nate Ayers is awake and cheering.
I think I just saw Frank McCourt buy a half-price ice cream. He handed the vendor an IOU.
Matt Kemp is up. The best player on the field. Go Dodgers! NO! Weak ground ball. To second for one, back to first, double play.]
[Updated at 2:04 p.m.: Memo to Dodgers: Fans are beginning to leave, but Nate Ayers and I are still here. He brought his glove along with him.
We occasionally take swings at the batting cages on Sepulveda, and we are not much older than shortstop Juan Uribe, who I see is now out of the lineup due to lack of interest or perhaps an arthritic condition.
Translation: We are available for pinch-hitting or relief pitching duty. Today. Right now. You could do worse, and in fact you are.]
DREAM WAS ALIVE
[Updated at 2:44 p.m.: Top of the eighth and I'm starting to feel some sympathy for bumped-aside Dodger owner Frank McCourt, who can't make payroll. Why should he?
If the Dodgers were paid based on merit, maybe three or four players would be getting paychecks.
Meanwhile, some fans along the first base line are trying to start a wave to break up the boredom. But it doesn't work when there's no one sitting on either side of you.
The Dodgers are so weak, a 3-2 count qualifies as a rally. Now Tony Gwynn just walked. The dream is alive!
But Aaron Miles, showing no patience, swings at a pitcher's pitch and hits a lazy flyball for an out. It's up to Jay Gibbons, hitting .000, to keep the rally alive. He swings. He connects.
The Cubs first baseman catches a feeble foul pop, and I'm wondering, can you hit lower than .000?]
SILVER LINING DEPARTMENT
[Updated at 2:50 p.m.: There won't be much traffic leaving the stadium. My Dodger Dog was half price. We didn't get beaned by a foul ball and carried out on a stretcher, though that might have been preferable.
"This is about as bad as it gets," says disgusted die-hard Tom Ropelewski, the screenwriter, who waited 'til the bitter end for something to happen.
Final score: Cubs 5, Dodgers 1. But it wasn't that close.
One last thought: I have tickets to eight more games this year. Anyone interested in a really good deal?]
-- Steve Lopez
Photos from top: Empty seats at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday; Frank McCourt; Lopez and Ayres. Credits: Steve Lopez / Los Angeles Times; Reuters