Note: The pictures from the blog: SF and Oakland are from our seats, Petco is from the hotel room.
I am in San Diego right now, and this is one of the most amazing towns in America. It reminds me a fair amount of San Francisco, with all the bridges, the Bay and the rolling fog in the mornings, but the fog burns off faster and it' s warmer. I'm staying in a part of town called the Gaslamp District, and apparently, this is where the movers and shakers come to fully enjoy San Diego. All of this is interesting to me, but not as interesting as getting to go to Petco Park tomorrow with my girlfriend. The baseball park tour was her idea, which is only a small snapshot why she's the best. And to think she was concerned it wouldn't be appreciated as a gift, she really wasn't sure how I would receive it.
This is the best gift ever.
The tour starts in San Francisco on the 4th of July, where we get to sit in a box at AT&T Park, which is an experience in and of itself. The parts of the ballpark the average guy can't get into, well, all I can say is, they're really nice. The guy on the Miller High Life commercials makes fun of the people in the Box, insinuating they don't follow the game, and it would be really possible to do so. But every real fan should, once in their lives, pool some loot together with some friends (i think it takes about 12) and get a box at the game. I got to see Tim Lincecum, the All-Star game starter, the reigning Cy Young award winner, pitch a gem of a baseball game against the Houston Astros. For those of you that have not had a chance to see a game at AT&T anywhere in the park (don't get it twisted, I've watched games from the nosebleed seats, from the field level, as well as been a bleacher bum, so i don't discriminate, it's all baseball, so it's all good), you definitely should do so. I've been to a few of the new stadiums, and AT&T rivals any of them, with the backdrop against the bay, as opposed to a downtown setting.
The next ballpark we went to was the Oakland Coliseum, a place I have seen probably 40-50 games over the course of my life, but this was particularly special, as I got to watch my favorite team play, the Minnesota Twins. Our seats were amazing, first row along the first base (my visiting Twins) side. I got to take some cool pictures of some of the players, and I got a chance to see the best hitter in the American League, the 1997 American League MVP, and a game with 39 hits, two grand slams, and a play at the plate to decide the game that may be the spur to get instant replay for plays on the bases in addition to home runs. My team lost, playing one of the worst games I'd seen them play in almost a decade, giving up a 12-2 lead from the 3rd inning to the 7th inning, made three fielding mistakes that couldn't be classified as errors, and even though he was safe at the plate, there's no reason to send Cuddyar to the plate from second on a passed ball- maybe you send Gomez (who was on first, pinch running, so we had speed for the winning run but not for the lead runner), maybe you send Denard Span, if you send anyone at all (I probably make Young succeed or fail, and I think it's easier for that run to score with runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, but that may be why I was watching in the park) . Even with my team trying to punch my experience in the junk, it was still an incredible experience, the tickets were amazing, and even though my team lost, I don't dislike the A's, and would root for them if they weren't playing us.
Next, we left from the Bay Area to come down to San Diego, relax a little and see the San Diego Padres play on Wednesday at Petco Park. I've never been inside the park, and I imagine I will have more to say about the park after I've been inside. But I can speak about the park a little now, as I am looking into the park as I type this, as our hotel room is overlooking the park and has a waterfront view of San Diego Bay. The ballpark, from the outside and from the air (the bar at the hotel allows you to watch the games in a Wrigley Field roof type of thing) is amazing, in line with many of the new stadiums. More importantly to me, it's just another ballpark I can check off of the new baseball tour (I started one with my dad, and he died before we could get to all the parks, so when I started the new tour, I decided to start the slate clean, and start at zero ballparks). This just means I have to go to the new ballpark they'll build in Minnesota because I won't have the chance to see a game there before they close the Metrodome, as well as old Shea and old Yankee Stadiums don't count, which is awesome, as I'll get to see the new spots, even if it takes awhile. Once again, I digress...
...once we are done in San Diego, we will drive up to Los Angeles, and have a relaxing day in LA. On Friday, we go to Chavez Ravine to Dodgers Stadium, to watch the hated Dodgers play at home against the Florida Marlins. This also gives me a chance to see one of the best young players in the majors, Marlin shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and this kid is amazing. A true 5 skill athelete, and I have been to Chavez before, and if you can forget that it used to be a predominately minority neighborhood before they tore it down for a baseball stadium, it's an insanely nice place to watch a game. Getting to hear Vin Scully call a baseball game is one of the best things in the world, and I'm even considering picking up an AM radio so I can listen to Vin. It was one of the pleasures of living in Santa Barbara for college was getting to pick up Dodger games on the radio, and this is from someone that doesn't even like the Dodgers, but does appreciate a great play-by-play guy...
...on Saturday, it's Anaheim to watch the California Angels, um the Anaheim Angels, um, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play against my Minnesota Twins. In Oakland, it's a little different- there's no real animosity between the teams. In fact, the Twins-A's thing is much more of a love fest, with both teams seeing a little of themselves in the other team. Both teams have had to sell off mad talent to stay afloat, both team have made excellent decisions in the front office, being on the winning side of a variety of deals (the A's traded away Mulder, and I don't think Mulder has five wins since the deal, where Danny Haren (the main component in the deal) won a substantial amount for the A's and was traded for a truckload of Arizona Diamondback talent, and we all know of the fleecing of the century, the Giants traded Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan for a catcher we had no need for, as we had Joe Mauer in the wings), and both teams are consider small market teams, even though Oakland is in the 4th largest market in America. This is not a concern with the Angels, who have in the last few years with Arte Moreno as the GM, have moved into the Red Sox-Yankee area for free agency spending, and if you're from a small market team, there's nothing you hate more than those free spending MF's that just try to buy a World Series. So I'll be in my Twins Road Pinstripes, rooting for my team more vigerously than in Monday's game. After four games in 6 days, it'll be homeward bound, knowing that baseball will be in my dreams and in my heart, and that my girlfriend had the idea and wanted to make it happen, so he did.
This is the best gift ever.