Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Cardinals @ Padres

Last night I went to a Cardinals game in San Diego, my first time down there for a game. I have been to San Diego before; I went to a conference for a week in 2000. But aside from the Denny’s by my hotel, all I did there was read books (I guess I did find a Border’s) and I made one trip up to LA for an evening. On this trip, I went with my NY friend and former AITPL contributor Julie, who drove. We also picked up a college friend of hers in Carlsbad for the game. Anyway, here is the beloved bulleted list:

  • We had no traffic problems whatsoever getting there, and made the trip in about two hours, thanks to HOV lanes.
  • The area around the stadium is all entirely new, and exactly resembles the townhouse apartments and condos that have magically appeared around Coors Field in the last few years. It seriously looked like they ordered the same buildings from the same catalog, with the same colors and even some of the same names.
  • I was looking at one apartment building thinking “damn, that looks exactly like our place in Denver”, and then I realized it was on the corner of Market and Park. Our old place was on the corner of Market and Park. And our place overlooked a parking lot used on game day, and so did this.
  • PETCO Park was built in 2004 by HOK Sport, who has designed many of MLB’s parks, including Coors Field. It’s one of those throwback-yet-super-modern designs that are all the big deal in baseball.
  • Things I liked:
    • The park is very integrated into the surrounding area. There’s an Omni hotel that is connected directly to the concourse, and it has its own box for guests. There’s a city park that’s connected to the back part of the concourse. It slopes above the furthest part of the outfield, and for $5, you can sit out there during a game. Also, they saved a hundred-year-old building that was supposed to be demolished (the Western Metal Supply Co.) and restored it to use as offices and a store.
    • There’s a lot of food, and a lot of weird food, like a fresh seafood place.
    • There was “Fielder’s Choice”, a restaurant of just healthy food.
    • The bathrooms were excellent, with honest-to-god full urinals. F the Dodgers and your stupid waterless trough urinals!
    • Good (but not great) scoreboards and signs.
    • The fans were fairly civil (but I didn’t wear Rockies gear.)
    • Parts of the stadium are these weird angular buildings that look like something from Total Recall.
  • Things I really didn’t like:
    • Not a big fan of the Padres.
    • We were in fairly good seats at the top of the field level, and a bit behind third. But our seats partially blocked the scoreboard.
    • I still think Coors Field has the best dimensions and position of stands around the field of any park out there. PETCO is smaller, but it appears splayed out more, and I think that’s because of the illusion of the outfield not being perfectly symmetrical, and dodging around the existing structures and park in center field. It just seems like the close seats are further out from the field; Dodger Stadium is like that, too.
    • There was a really close Giants-Rockies game at the same time, and I spent the entire game glued to the other games scoreboard, which gives you no info but the score and the inning, and it was like watching a clock with only an hour hand. The Rockies lost by one point.
    • I brought my AM radio, but the announcers were fairly horrible. They were both mumblers, and emotionless mumblers at that.
    • They didn’t really have a lot of walk-up music, or at least it wasn’t that loud.
    • The one exception was when Trevor Hoffmann, the closer, came out, they played the start of Hell’s Bells really, really, really loud. I’ve seen him fuck up enough that they shouldn’t make a big deal out of him. It’s like if you tried to film a Beatlemania-type movie about Dick Cheney.
    • There’s a lot of strange Catholic imagery (Padre => Father => Friar.) Their mascot is this weird friar guy, which is even more odd when you see him playing air guitar on the sidelines or whatever other weird shit mascots tend to do. Everything goes along with the friar theme, like Friar Dogs, Friar Fries, etc.
    • Getting from point A to B on the concourse was more involved than it should have been; it wasn’t all on the same level, and there were a ton of zigzag ramps.
  • Not good or bad, just different:
    • There was a lot of nautical themed stuff, like scoreboard graphics of sailboats and piers and fishermen. I think baseball teams should do a lot more of this to make each park bring out the unique aspects of each region, instead of just looking like yet another HOK-designed park.
    • The Padres are HUGE about the military. There were a lot of Navy and Marines folks at the game, although not in uniform. (Sometimes, entire sections are in uniform.) There were a lot of Navy propaganda stations on the concourse, including a big scale model of the aircraft carrier Midway.
    • Traffic was a little clogged getting out of the immediate area, but once we got to I-5, it was open throttle the rest of the way home.
    • They had the camo jerseys, which I wanted to buy, except I don’t like any of the Padres, I don’t want a Padres jersey, I don’t want to spend money, and someone else doesn’t want me to get a camo jersey. Fair enough. I’m saving for that Nolan Ryan throwback jersey anyway.
    • I managed to stay with my diet for the most part, save two regular Cokes at the game. I figured I would go 4000 calories over, but I think it was about 450 over. I’ll go for a long walk today.
    • Cardinals lost. I was indifferent about this one, but Julie is a huge Cards fan and I don’t like the Padres, so I was rooting for them. It’s also good to see Pujols play, unless it’s against the Rockies.

Anyway, I’m going to Cards @ Dodgers on Saturday. Should be fun!

Other news, I have been filling up my iPod with free music, and maybe I will review some of it, or at least provide links. Until then, I need to get some writing done.