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CHRIS ERSKINE / FAN OF THE HOUSE

Predicting a good time at Dodger Stadium is the easy part

The odds of a Dodgers World Series title are long, but they're better than those of the Pirates.

April 11, 2012|Chris Erskine
  • Fans react to fireworks during pregame ceremonies at the home opener for the Dodgers on Tuesday.
Fans react to fireworks during pregame ceremonies at the home opener for… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

For insight on how this young Dodgers season might play out, I turn to a professional futurist, Lisa at Sunset Psychic Reading, in the shadow of Dodger Stadium.

"Sometimes you sleep good, sometimes you don't," she says, quite accurately, mind you.

"You've been thinking about starting your own business," she says. "It will be with a friend or a family member."

Frapp! There goes my dream of starting a business with a complete stranger.

Unfortunately, Lisa doesn't have much to offer in the way of Major League Baseball predictions. I tried to get her to tell me how many games the Dodgers might win, or how much Andre Ethier is going to cost his new bosses.

What's to become of these Dodgers? Not even the pros know for sure.

::

You think it's an accident that the Dodgers' first homestand is against baseball's equivalent of warm milk?

At first, I thought scheduling the hapless Pirates for this opening homestand was Bud Selig's final revenge on Frank McCourt.

Now I realize it is to ensure harmony on the stadium's 50th birthday. Tuesday's crowd was beery but well-behaved, and at times almost spookily quiet. I guess that's what pitchers' duels will do for you.

But you can also thank the Bucs.

And don't expect a major rival on an opening homestand for a long time.

::

OK, you want predictions?

Paul Bessire, of http://www.PredictionMachine.com, has played a hypothetical 2012 season 50,000 times on his "Predictalator" computer, and the Texas Rangers win the World Series a league-high 16.4% of the time. The runners-up: Philadelphia Phillies (15.8%), Boston Red Sox (11%), Milwaukee Brewers (9.2%), New York Yankees (8.4%) and the Angels (8.1%).

No other team has a greater than 5% chance of winning it all.

Bessire's model gives the Dodgers a 22% chance of winning their division but only a 2% chance of winning the World Series. He gives the Pirates, and 11 other teams, 0% of winning it all.

An expert on mathematical modeling, Bessire has predicted the winner of five of the last eight World Series and seven of the last nine Super Bowls (nine of nine against the spread).

::

Like the Rose Parade, Dodger Stadium seems blessed by timely sunshine. Tuesday, sunkissed. Wednesday, cloudy with a chance of snow.

Rain or shine, what's clear is there have been few modifications to the stadium from last season. There's a new health food concession — kind of hidden, near the elevators on the club level — with good salads starting at $8.50 and four kinds of sushi ($9.25).

On the loge level, Section 133, another new stand: Extremely Loaded Dogs (bring your own punchline).

Meanwhile, a smog of garlic fries envelopes the loge level, between Sections 132-138.

This is a good thing. Fast food's equivalent of cut grass.

::

Third inning, Wednesday night. Still no sign of a single Pirates fan. And I know the weather isn't keeping them away, because it feels just like Pittsburgh in January.

::

Season-ticket holder David Eisen and his guests got a beer bath on the loge level (Section 122 Row J) when the folks above him knocked over their beverages.

With ballpark beer going for a buck an ounce, (almost) no one spills it on purpose. Dodgers reps responded by gifting Eisen with trinkets and offers of a stadium tour.

Something to consider before you let them upgrade your season seats: Where are they in relation to the edge of the overhang?

::

Peanut slinger Roger Owens, in his 54th year with the Dodgers, says Tuesday was the best day he's had in seven or eight years.

"There's a new energy now," he says. "It's with the workers, it's with the fans."

Owens, whose sales are the equivalent of the stadium's Dow Jones industrial average, sold more than $1,000 worth on opening day. On Wednesday, he predicted a take of $400 or so.

::

Instead of tailgate parties, forbidden at Dodger Stadium, many fans gather before a game at a stretch of bars along Sunset. On Tuesday, tour buses were making stops at El Compadre and the Short Stop, where L.A.'s best barkeep, Joe Skyward, and his teammates were serving up 80 cases of Pabst — and that was before the postgame crowd arrived.

Homemade tamales were going for $3 out of a cooler by the front door. On the sidewalk, fans lined up 20 deep for a chance to get in.

Spilling out of a cab, a fan in a T-shirt. "Magic Make Frank Disappear," it read.

::

Most-memorable from opening day pregame? When the white doves were released and flew right through the pyrotechnics. Poor birds. One moment, you're the guests of honor; the next, they're sending up Scuds.

Welcome to the major leagues.

There were no fatalities, the Dodgers reported Wednesday.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

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