Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

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.