Rockies @ Giants

I’m in San Francisco right now. I went to my (probably) last baseball game of the year, Rockies versus Giants. This was both a really great game, and a bit of a bummer, especially since the Rockies lost, and it really summarizes the so-so year the team had.

Okay, so I walk to the stadium, and there’s an area at the right field wall that looks out at this small cove and the water, and it’s a nice little place to walk and get some water and nature and bay views in before you go into the game. And this wall has a metal gate where you can go up, even during a game, and look into the field for free. Granted, you’ll have to fight off a thousand other people for a look, but it’s one of the only ways to get a free glimpse of major league baseball without investing in a helicopter.

I went up to the gate, and it was Giants batting practice. But, right against the gate, throwing catch with the bullpen coach, was Jeff Francis. He was literally 20 feet away, throwing and throwing, all of his motions perfectly aligned for each pitch. I stood there for a while and watched, because it was almost hypnotic. Also, at the open bullpen was Jason Hirsh, throwing full-speed to a geared-up catcher. The first thing I noticed about him, is he’s a monster – he’s 6′-8 and 250 pounds, and is pretty fast-moving for his size. He pitched low, and his giant gangly arms hurled the ball like a medieval siege weapon. But he was erratically off target and out of rhythm. He ended last season with a broken leg, then ended this one before it started with a messed up shoulder. Looks like the shoulder is healed, but he’s out of sync. Oh well – the Rockies could use another good pitcher.

For this game, I bought a dugout club ticket, which was $75, but something I probably wouldn’t do again, so it was worth it. At AT&T park, the first level of seats extending up from the field have no concourse behind them. You can go up to the first concourse for a drink, but the concourse behind the first level is actually the cinderblock access tunnel that connects up with laundry rooms, equipment storage, the press room, and the two clubhouses. To alleviate this, there is a large club area hanging off of this concourse, which you can access if you have dugout club tickets. And the first part of the experience: this section has its own entrance, its own line, and it’s own access, so you don’t have to go through the main gates with the rest of the savages.

I got into the club area, and got to work on dinner. The club has a half-dozen restaurant stations where you can buy food and drink. I thought there would be some eclectic choices, but it was pretty basic: burgers, hot dogs, fries, chinese, tacos, BBQ. I got a bratwurst and the signature garlic fries, which are supposed to be a big deal. The first Rockies game I went to this year, I got a bratwurst from the Sandlot brewery, so it seemed like a natural bookend. This one, not that great. I also wasn’t into the garlic fries, and only ate a few of them. I don’t know if it was the garlic, or the fact that I never eat fries. I found a place selling fruit salads and got one of those instead.

When I got done eating, I went toward my seat, and I had to go through one of those tunnels, the kind where players run through when taking the field at football games. When I got through this, the Rockies were taking batting practice. And… I realized I could go right up to the field and watch. Normally, I always wonder who those people were, who sat at the rail and talked to the players. And now, with my magic ticket, that was me. I went right up to the front, and was a dozen feet away from the plate. All of these players that I’d been watching for the last two years were all right there, like the distance from my desk to my fridge, and they were all joking around, warming up, and hanging out.

I noticed a lot of little stuff. Troy Tulowitzki is a lot taller than you’d think. Omar Quintanilla is really short. Matt Holliday doesn’t look as huge as he does on TV. Ian Stewart, who just took over third base from Garrett Atkins, now has grown his hair out and sortof resembles Atkins. Yorvit Torrealba was eating a sucker while he was playing catch. Brad Hawpe spent a lot of time batting, popping up, tuning how hard he could hit and the angle he could catch. Matt Holliday hit a homer high into the bleachers in the deepest part of center field. I thought everyone would congratulate him, slap high fives, or whatever, but nobody even acknowledged it.

The weirdest part of all was that I saw someone playing catch, and realized it was Todd Helton. He’s on the 60-day DL for back problems, but he was still out there in uniform pants and a warm-up jacket, lightly tossing back and forth with Chris Ianetta. And then as he walked up to the cage to talk to Clint Hurdle, he saw me standing there in a Rockies jersey, probably the only one there, and he sort of half-nodded a “hey” to me as he went by. So to see him made it worth my $75. Plus I got a shitload of pictures.

So the game started, and all I can say is that it went slow, totally shut out until the Rockies manufactured a single run. And in the 7th, the whole thing fell apart. The game dragged on from there, and it ended at 4-1 Giants. And then I had a one-mile walk home.

Anyway, that’s the baseball season. Maybe I will get some damn pictures up now.

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Brewers @ Dodgers

This weekend, my sister-in-law was here from Wisconsin, and we all hung out and saw LA and saw Hollywood. And then on Saturday, we went to Chavez Landfill and saw ten innings of Mannywood. Here’s the bulleted list:

  • Aside from the Rockies, the Brewers are one of my favorite teams, and although you miss a lot of the fun when you’re watching them at an away game at Dodger Stadium (sausage race, Bernie Brewer, Miller Park, indoor plumbing, a stadium that doesn’t suck complete shit) it still stood to be a fun time.
  • Our seats were in the Loge level, first base side, just a bit over from the plate, and a couple rows from the top. For Loge seats, they were pretty good. But of course, the rip-off at Dodger Stadium is that you can’t touch seats closer than that for under $200 or so.
  • I had a three taco plate at the Mexican food place. They were those little tiny tacos, which I hate. Tasted okay, but I wanted another nine of them.
  • There was an endless parade of pre-game crap. Anthony Kiedis, of all people, threw out a pitch. Then some random bank employee threw out a pitch. Then a bunch of little kids came out. Then, a group of 25 doctors from a cancer research place came out and all threw first pitches, Then a dozen Dodgers players from the 1990s came out. Then Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon came out with his entire band in center field and played a horrible few songs. Then, 50,000 people wondered aloud, “where the hell am I?”
  • One of the former Dodger has-beens was Tommy Lasorda. I decided if I ever met him, I would try to get him to sign a can of Slim-Fast. It would probably be better to get a signed jar of his spaghetti sauce, but I think they landfilled that shit when the company went bankrupt.
  • There were a LOT of Manny shirts. A couple of people had Manny wigs. I went to the t-shirt booth and they had a ton of stuff, so I bought one of the Mannywood shirts. I don’t know why – maybe it will be a collector’s item when he leaves LA and goes to play for the Yankees, in like 15 seconds from now.
  • When Mr. Ramirez did make his appearance, he got a HUGE reaction. HUGE. I knew he was like the savior to the NL West, but it’s amazing how quick everyone in LA embraced him. It’s also weird to see him in a brand new Dodger blue and white uniform – I’m so used to seeing him in Boston garb.
  • It was good to see the Brewers on the field. The Fresh Prince is still pushing 300, even after the vegetarian diet. I still enjoy watching him play defense and run bases – it’s like watching a stampeding boar.
  • The Dodgers led most of the game, but as far as pulling further ahead, they got robbed by some very astounding catches. Gabe Kapler went over the rail and into the seats to catch what should have been a home run into left field. But there were also some astounding errors on the Brewers’ behalf.
  • The Brewers pulled ahead, and then Manny pulled a sacrifice fly in the 9th to tie it. In the top of the 10th, J.J. Hardy added a run. Then at the last at-bat, Manny struck out, and the game was over, 4-3.
  • I should add that people were LOUD. People have this annoying practice of beating the seats in front of them, and getting way too charged up. Sometimes I think Dodger stadium should stop serving alcohol after like the 3rd inning or something.
  • After the game was a fireworks show, which I think was the first time I’ve been to a game where the home team lost and they had fireworks, but they plan these things out months in advance.
  • Because they were letting people on the field for the fireworks, we ran down there and I walked out onto right field. I’ve never been on the turf of the field of a baseball stadium (just the warning track) but there were so many people, it wasn’t much of a photo op. We started heading back out as the fireworks started, so we could get a jump on traffic.
  • Lots of guys selling bootleg Manny shirts in the parking lot.

Anyway, sorry for the boring report – not working on much sleep here. Once again, photos… someday.

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Mariners @ Angels

I headed on down to Anaheim to see the Angels play the Mariners last night. Here’s the report:

  • I bought these tickets mostly to see two teams I’d never seen, in a stadium I’d never seen. I had almost no vested interest in either team, except maybe a minor interest in the Mariners, because I lived in Seattle for four years and never saw them.
  • The drive to Anaheim took about an hour, and had its moments, but wasn’t horrible. It’s always nostalgic to be back on the I-5, where I spent a good chunk of my life in the mid to late 90s, except on the other end of the country.
  • Parking wasn’t hard, although it’s still weird to me to have to drive to a baseball game and then park. I’m still used to walking.
  • The outside of the stadium has two giant baseball caps suspended above the ground, maybe a hundred feet around. The front entrance to the park is very Disney, decorated in an overly esthetic manner. It’s not the typical brickyard ball park, but it doesn’t look like a generic cookiecutter stadium either.
  • I got inside, and my general impression is that Angels Stadium is a really nice old park. It was built in 1966, which is weird for me, because almost every park I’ve seen was built in the 90s or 00s, except for Yankee Stadium (which feels like it was built right after the Civil War), Dodger Stadium (which feels older than that), and McAffe (which is multi-sport hell.) But, because of rennovations, it doesn’t feel like a 42-year-old park at all.
  • Angels Stadium used to be a multi-sport arena, when the Rams played football here. After they left for St. Louis, they tore out the back wall again, and opened up the view to the mountains.
  • The stadium is not bad for food. There’s a lot of restaurants on the ground concourse, but the big attractions are the food places on the large patios outside of each base line. There are a bunch of kiosks and bigger open-air barbeque places. Add to that the palm trees and nice weather, and it’s a pretty cozy place to hang out before a game.
  • I had seats in section 349, which is the club level, back in front of the foul pole, in the front row, middle of the section. These were $40 seats, which I think weren’t bad for the price. (Although $50 at Coors Field gets you the same seats right at home plate. But at Dodger Stadium, $40 gets you seats in a strip mall five miles from the park.)
  • The club level was lined with doors that were entrances to the suite boxes, alternated with stairways that went down to the club sections. That meant all of the ushers in the section were exceedingly nice and friendly, and you saw a lot of the corporate suit types that were like the meta-ushers, helping out the box owners with finding a good place to service their lear jets or something.
  • As the stadium filled, there were lots of people wearing red. LOTS. It felt like I was back at IU again. One of my regrets about the Rockies is they have such a stupid color (purple) that they can never get people to pull this off.
  • Going into this game, the Mariners were the worst team in baseball, and were something like 30 games behind the Angels in the division. The story of the 2008 Mariners is pretty brutal: starting with a promoted bench coach for manager, an almost-complete coaching staff change, the dismissal of their general manager, another manager fired and replaced with a bench coach. Add a good list of players designated or released, and you have a team with a $117-million dollar payroll that’s facing possible sale in the near future. (And in a town that just lost their NBA basketball franchise to Oklahoma, that’s got to suck for a Seattle sports fan.)
  • And going into this game, the Angels have the best record in baseball, with their nearest divisional rival being over a dozen games back. What’s always weird to me is that the Angels have a huge local following, but they are not a national brand across the country. They’re probably the best baseball team that nobody gives a shit about.
  • Oh, and to add to the lineup, the Angels recently nabbed Mark Teixeira from the Braves, and he has been doing monster work at the plate, driving that lead in the division even higher.
  • The game started, and was boring as hell. Seattle up: three down. Angels up: three down. Seattle up: etc. It was like watching a minor league game. And since the Seattle team was basically the Tacoma AAA team plus Ichiro, it was a minor league game.
  • In the third, the Mariners managed to connect together five singles to drive in three runs. I almost had to check my ticket stub to see if I was at a National League game. It was deathly quiet for the whole half inning, and for some reason, I really started hoping the Mariners would pull it together for the game.
  • Then in the fifth inning, both Juan Rivera and Vlad Guerrero hit monster home runs, bringing in a total of four runs. The park has this fake mountainy thing in center field with fountains on it, and with each home run, they launched off a barrage of fireworks. They also shot them off in the national anthem, and at the end of the game. I guess Disney gets a bulk discount on fireworks.
  • I forgot to mention, the food in the club level wasn’t great. There was a big restaurant/bar/club just over from my section, with a patio, lots of glass, a nice bar, higher-end food. But everything was way out of my calorie range, and expensive. I ended up going to California Pizza Kitchen, which sucked.
  • There was another home run later in the game, I forget who, but more fireworks.
  • With the game down to the last out, Mark T (I can never spell his name) fucked up a completely pedestrian out at first base, by just dropping the ball out of his hand as he went to the base. Everyone was ready for the game to be over and more fireworks, but it was a total putz move. Not like they would have scored four more in a 2-out ninth, but man that sucked.
  • Last out. Final score: 7-3. More fireworks.
  • When I left my car, I noted “it’s right in line with this huge pile of construction dirt outside of the parking lot.” I got outside and realized every parking space looked like it was in line with that pile of dirt, especially at night.
  • The drive was my first long(ish) trip with the Yaris and the ScanGauge. My mileage for the 40-mile drive: 43.5 MPG.

That’s it. I have one more game this Saturday, my 10th of the year, and probably my last. It’s Brewers@Dodgers; I want to see the Brewers win, but I’m pretty sick of seeing the Dodgers, especially at Chavez Landfill.

I will eventually get pictures posted – I am trying to redo all of my baseball pictures into one place, which I will probably finish in 2047.

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