I arrived at Dodger Stadium around 10 AM. You can see some of the outfield construction and remodeling here.
The line to get wristbands (!) for autographs did not seem too bad from this point. But, then I crossed the ridge and saw that the line seemed to have no end. Spiegel of Nomo's Sushi Platter fame met up with me around 10:20ish AM. Spiegel and I had drawn up a cursory plan to get autographs from Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The plan was doomed to fail from the start. The autograph line must have been at least a mile long because it wound, folded, and curved on itself. I thought that there must have been at least ten thousand people there, though Dylan Hernandez said that the Dodgers thought the number was closer to 21,000. After about an hour of waiting in line and shooting the shit, Greg of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle fame met up with Spiegel and yours truly.
This was where we were a little more than an hour and a half into our riveting line-standing. It was almost noon.
At some point during our wait in line, Josh Dodgerbobble, Stealing Home and his son met up with the three of us. Dodgerbobble managed to score himself a Magic Johnson autographed baseball, the lucky duck. We all traded a few cards and chatted for a while. Dodgerbobble and Stealing Home left early. We finally got to the wristband tent some time between 1:30-2:00 PM. That was a three hour line! Spiegel, Zakwin, and I each got our one autograph wristband for Hyun-Jin Ryu and proceeded into FanFest. It wasn't necessarily better inside the event area than what was outside.
On stage right is Matt Kemp playing at DJ'ing and on stage left is Nancy Bea. As you can see, it was super crowded inside FanFest. This was the view from where we were standing in line to get Ryu's signature.
More after the jump...
The lines kept shifting down whenever time was running out for a particular signer. For Ryu, were told to go to Line 7, which was then abruptly changed to Line 8. A fight almost broke out in front of us because of the confusion caused by the line shifts.
When I went up to Ryu and his translator, I greeted them with "Anyeong haseyo." That is the formal version of "hello" in Korean. I am not Korean, though it seemed a proper thing to do. The translator said "HAI" and bowed to me. "Okay!" I thought. It was an interesting exchange. The slightly distracted Ryu signed my baseball and that was that. Rather quick and easy for such a long wait. I also said, "Hamsa samnida," or, thank you.
We three then hopped over to Shawn Tolleson's less-crowded line right after Ryu's signing. A good thing about FanFest was that they let us hop lines if the signing groups had time left and if there were not many people in a line for a particular player. I had a peculiar experience with Tolleson, of which Spiegel and Greg can attest.
Shawn Tolleson. "Party Hard."
I am fond of asking athletes to inscribe "Party Hard" on autographs when I can do so. I can tell who has a sense of humor, or at the very least a sense of the absurd, when I request this. One of my favorite pieces of sports memorabilia is a baseball on which Kevin Kouzmanoff signed and wrote, "Party Hard, Arno. Go A's!"
When I asked Tolleson to personalize my ball with "Party Hard," he appeared to be genuinely and utterly bewildered. He inquired (essentially verbatim), "If I may ask, what is the significance of 'party hard' or what does it mean?" Now, I was perhaps as perplexed by his question as much as he seemed confused by my request. Is there any way else one can party, but hard? "I like to party hard," I replied. Tolleson responded, "Well, that would not be my recommendation." I think I brought on the party too hard this time.
Delicious, nourishing poutine. Food trucks abound at Dodgers FanFest! Lunch at 3ish PM.
After we got Shawn Tolleson signatures, Spiegel, Greg, and I finally went to get some food. There was an amazing, diverse selection of food trucks at FanFest. Spiegel and I decided to devour poutine from Gravy Train Poutinerie. Greg tried the outstanding, esteemed Kogi truck for the first time. Now properly hydrated and nourished, Spiegel left a little bit after we hailed an affable, good-humored bicycle police to take these photographs of us:
Spiegel departed and the two of us that were left went to procure more autographs. Greg tried very hard to get into A.J. Ellis' signing line, but it was not to be. That would have been sweet, though, as I have been trying to get A.J.'s signature for a while. However, we did get these dudes to sign for us:
Oh yes. Matt Guerrier. He seemed to find it funny and even told me "Party Hard!" as I left. What a pleasant chap.
Oh yes, part two. Brandon League. He also seemed to find it amusing. He looked to have some cool ink as well. I think it was League's wife who did a double-take and asked me what I requested. Don't freak out because this is a "China" ball; it is full grain leather so the ink should stay. Same ball as Guerrier.
Here's looking at me, kid:
I required copious amounts of beer afterwards. Ultimately, Dodgers FanFest was a good, entertaining experience. The team really needs to improve the autograph scheduling, line organization, and overall pleasantness of the event though. This is especially true since they apparently changed the format and timing of FanFest this year. In all fairness, the Dodgers probably did not expect so many people to show up. But then, they plausibly could have expected this massive throng too, because of all the excitement with new players, new ownership, and fresh aspirations in a new season. I leave you with a well-worn FanFest schedule: