Walking around Angel Stadium at the dawn of a new season, the recession was everywhere you looked, but with as pleasant a spin on it as possible. Gone were the people-herding poles with lanyards weaving hungry fans into Angelino's and Ruby's counters - the wait now never appeared to be more than two fans in front of you as everyone seems to be bringing their own food.
And the ones who are buying food might have the same selections as ever, but we bought a $10 California Pizza Kitchen pizza from an aisle vendor (shout out to Angelhawker and his wife) and were delighted to discover that it was actually hot and fresh - we had given up on the stadium pizza after we sadly discovered that stale bread and cool, thoroughly coagulated cheese was the norm. The pressure is finally on to deliver quality and convenience, heretofore unpalatable concepts at Rally Rat Aramark of Anaheim.
But it doesn't stop there. Buy a replica jersey and get two tickets to an upcoming Angel home game. Spend more than $5 in the team store and get a free program. Donate to curing blood cancer at the team store and get a delightful cheery shout out from the cashier staff. Need to go to your car? The security at the gate punches your ticket with a smile and polite instructions for your return.
Those yelping credit card application booths lining the stadium walkways offering a free Angel comb or towel if you give them enough info to ID theft you before you leave the park? They are either gone or pretty quiet these days. The crackhead semi-homeless "vendor" wandering the parking lot offers (stolen or bootlegged) Angel caps for ten dollars to folks just getting out of their cars. At the souvenir booth just outside the main gate the team's official hawker announces his official merchandise with prices. Authentic team caps are $7.
And all of this is available to fans for $3 at the first of what will be many midweek game specials. The line to the walkup ticket window was long before the game started, but not a single person in it was paying ticketmaster surcharges.
I guess we should all enjoy this recession while it lasts!