Rick’s Sports Corner: Visiting MLB’s Newest Stadium

Baseball is a grand and glorious game, and it shines every day.

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Rick Assad

Twenty-two months ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed the National League Championship Series in seven games over the Atlanta Braves.

The Boys in Blue then proceeded to clinch their seventh World Series title in six games against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In each series, shortstop Corey Seager was named the Most Valuable Player.

Seager swatted an incredible five homers with 11 runs batted in and posted a .310 batting average versus the Braves and hit a torrid .400 with two home runs and five RBIs against the Rays.

After seven seasons with the Dodgers, Seager, who was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft with the 18th overall pick in 2012, last December signed a 10-year, $325 million deal with the Texas Rangers, easily breaking a then-record contract $252 million over 10 years in 2000 that Alex Rodriguez inked with the Rangers.

Seager, a three-time All-Star and the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year is having a solid campaign with the bat.

The entrance to Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of the Rangers. (Photo courtesy Noah Navarrette)

Named July’s Player of the Month by the Rangers, Seager, who is batting .250, has cracked 24 homers and driven in 55 runs with 65 runs scored.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 regular season was limited to 60 games.

The NLCS and World Series were held at the brand-spanking new Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers.

With the original Globe Life Field visible through the glass windows in the outfield and mammoth AT&T Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys’ home just a short field goal away, I watched my third game in the state of Texas since 2019.

Across a three-hour match, the Rangers blanked the Chicago White Sox 8-0 on August 6 behind a dominant pitching performance from Dane Dunning (2-6), who surrendered one hit over seven innings while registering six strikeouts and one walk.

Driving 45 miles to Arlington from Plano, a suburb of Dallas, and seeing Six Flags Over Texas, I knew Globe Life Field was nearby and that the fun would soon begin.

This is the fourth time my sister Frances and I have paid a visit to her daughter Kristin and her family.

The tribe consists of husband Manny, 25-year-old Alex, 20-year-old Isabelle and 12-year-old Noah.

All the men in her family are sports fans and especially of baseball which is at the center of their sports universe.

For the game, Noah, who plays youth baseball and is primarily a catcher and an occasional third baseman for the Cubs and the Plano Yellowjackets, was the designated photographer.

I’ve seen contests from the seats at Dodger Stadium and the press box and watched last month as the grand and glorious ballpark hosted the All-Star Game for the second time.

Predictably, with the sun shining brightly on this classic ballpark, the AL defeated the NL 3-2 behind a two-run and tying homer in the fourth inning from New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, a Verdugo Hills High product who later transferred to Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks.

The game-winner was provided by Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton in the same frame.

Aside from Fenway Park which was erected in 1912 and Wrigley Field which was ready for business in 1914, both of which I’ve visited, Dodger Stadium, which opened its door in 1962, is the third oldest stadium in the majors.

Though I majored in political science and not history at UCLA, I enjoy the subject including when it’s applied to sports.

When it comes to history, Chavez Ravine has that in spades. Despite being 60, it’s still a gem.

Our view from the first-base line as the Texas Rangers shut out the Chicago White Sox 8-0. (Photo courtesy Noah Navarrette)

Dodger Stadium has hosted World Series games in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1988, 2017 and 2018 and countless playoff contests.

Every time I stepped into the House that owner Walter O’Malley built and Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully, who passed away four days earlier at 94, lorded over from his seat in the broadcast booth describing games and weaving indelible stories about legends Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Harold “Pee Wee” Reese, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Mike Piazza, Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda and present day star Clayton Kershaw, it’s always a thrill.

Globe Life Field, with a retractable roof to keep the oppressive heat away, is breathtaking in every sense of the word.

It offers spectacular sight lines and every conceivable amenity one can think of.

There is no bad seat among the 40,300 available.

The four of us sat above the first-base line and because it was Ivan Rodriguez bobblehead night, 38,275 people showed up.

While Piazza is thought to be the best-hitting catcher, for many, Rodriguez is the second-best all-around receiver in the modern era behind only Johnny Bench, who is universally regarded as the greatest ever.

Neither team scored for the first two and a half innings, but the Rangers were able to push around hard-throwing right-hander Michael Kopech (4-8), who lasted three and one-third innings, allowing five hits and four earned runs, striking out four and walking two, for three runs and three hits in the bottom of the third inning.

Eight batters came to the plate that included a long home run to right center by third baseman Ezequiel Duran to begin the frame.

Six batters later, right fielder Adolis Garcia smashed a hard-hit, two-run single to left.

Texas, which scored in three of the eight innings it went to bat, extended its lead to 4-0 in the fourth.

Catcher Meibrys Viloria led off with a single to right field. Viloria bolted to third base on left fielder Josh Smith’s single to center and scored on a wild pitch.

Ahead by a comfortable margin, the Rangers made sure they would come out on top after a four-run, one hit seventh inning.

Once again, the Rangers saw eight hitters trot to the plate. Garcia’s three-run double to left center made it 7-0 and Duran added a run-scoring force out as the lead swelled to an insurmountable 8-0.

The huge scoreboard at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Photo courtesy Noah Navarrette)

Seager lined a single in the third inning and scored while in the fifth he drew a base on balls.

In his last at-bat in the seventh inning, Seager walked once again and scored.

Dunning, who pitched for the University of Florida and was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2016 and later traded to the White Sox, worked five perfect innings and during that stretch fanned four of his six hitters.

Taylor Hearn took over for Dunning in the eighth and powered through two scoreless innings, striking out four and giving up one hit.

Chicago’s two hits came off the bats of third baseman Yoan Moncado with two out in the second inning and onetime Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal who sliced a two-out double to right field in the ninth.

When the game concluded on Hearn’s fourth strikeout, a swing and miss by designated hitter Eloy Jimenez, we exited the stadium the way we entered and made our way past a lively scene similar to L.A. Live next to Staples Center except with a Texas flavor.

With a gigantic television showing the San Diego Padres and Dodgers game and restaurants such as Arlington Backyard Cowboy Bar, with hungry diners everywhere, we eventually walked past the original Globe Life Field.

My mind wandered to when that structure hosted World Series games in 2010 against the San Francisco Giants and in 2011 versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

Off in the darkness stood AT&T Stadium and I pondered that in about four weeks the NFL season would soon commence.

Our walk continued a little longer and when I finally entered the car for the drive back, I thought what a night it was and felt sure this evening was an experience I’ll not soon forget.

Baseball may not be as popular as the NFL, but it can be magical. It is for me.

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