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Dodgers to playoffs? Of course, the survey says

And Don Mattingly should continue as manager for now, according to the Dodgers Fan Poll, which says the fan experience at Dodger Stadium has improved.

June 27, 2013|Chris Erskine

Dear Dodgers fans, let me just say that interviewing you in the first inning is a far different experience from speaking to you in the sixth, when that icy concoction you've been slurping completely Novocains your mouth and you almost swallow your tongue.

Don't get me wrong: They're both good experiences. One is just more entertaining than the other, like those snippets that go yard on YouTube.

But this much is clear from 75 interviews Tuesday night: You Dodgers fans are loyal, almost to a fault. You're mostly happy with the stadium concessions for the first time in years, and you think the team needs to trade for pitching.

Oh, and in a hypothetical matchup, you insist that Sandy Koufax would wipe the floor with Yasiel Puig.

Those were some of the findings in the inaugural Dodgers Fan Poll taken this week, with an assist from correspondent Melissa Rohlin (check out her video at latimes.com/sports).

Hugely unscientific, and with a margin of error that might match Puig's batting average, the survey might make a real pollster drop-kick his laptop. So call it a straw poll if you prefer, Mr. Gallup. Or call it a caucus.

We stand by our findings, taken randomly across the stadium's four main levels. Just like you stand by your team.

Will the Dodgers make the playoffs?

Eighty-two percent of you said yes, they'll make the playoffs (14% said no; 4% didn't know).

Should Manager Don Mattingly be replaced?

A quarter of you said yes, even as the Dodgers seem to be finally overcoming injuries and pulling things together.

"You don't replace him now," cautioned longtime fan Steve Monreal. "If you do, you wait till the off-season; then you bring in Tony La Russa."

But three out of four fans remain supportive of Mattingly, at least for the time being.

Almost two-thirds believe that the Dodgers need to make moves to shore up their pitching, and mention most the need for better relief.

As for concessions, where long lines have frustrated Dodgers fans seemingly forever, 79% of those surveyed thought that conditions have improved over last season (7% said they are worse, and 14% said things are about the same).

"The lines could still be better," said Annie Herring, whose family has had season tickets since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. "And they always run out of Coors Light and Chardonnay."

Fans also complained that the stands ran out of Blue Moon on Tuesday night, when there was a crowd of 47,193, thanks to a beach blanket giveaway.

"We're Californians. We love food," noted Jim Merk. "The choices should be better."

"They got rid of King Taco," grumbled Jasmine Ramirez, at the game with a dozen friends.

"We want King Taco!" echoed Nyelis Ruiz.

Fans noted that Angel Stadium still puts the Dodgers' food choices to shame. But the first set of stadium improvements has been a hit: Eighty percent of respondents said the overall game experience — parking, restrooms, stadium visuals — was better this year.

"The bathrooms aren't disgusting anymore," said Rafael Rodriguez. "Parking is much more controlled — you get in, you get out. And the big screen is so much more fun. I like all the stats."

What about safety?

"I used to try to get down in the orange [loge] seats because I didn't feel safe up here," he said from the top deck Tuesday night. "Now I bring my kids up here."

It occurs to me now — go ahead, run with it — that there should be a company that specializes in polling sports fans. A firm called Team Marketing Report tracks costs and marketing information but is oriented more toward management than fans. As always, fans never seem to get a vote.

In any case, this polling stuff can be a blast.

Just for kicks, we asked this provocative question: "Who would win a hypothetical showdown between Koufax in his prime and Puig right now?

"Has anybody swung at you for even asking that?" one fan wondered.

Well, just the ones who know me.

Credit Dodgers fans for keeping their heads on straight amid Puig's extraordinary start. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed believe Koufax would win such a showdown.

"You kidding?" Monreal said. "Mentally, Sandy would take him apart."

chris.erskine@latimes.com

twitter.com/erskinetimes

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