Wednesday, April 14, 2010
If any of you have seen the movie The Rock with Nic Cage and Sean Connery as much as I have, then you can understand my excitement in making my first trip to San Francisco. The sight of the mid-1800s gold rush, the epic World Series earthquake (and many others) in 1989, and my own parents' honeymoon, San Francisco and its AT&T Park will host the first true visit and foreign stadium experience this spring.
Thanks to Scott Cabaniss, one of my friends and colleagues at the Yankees, I was able to get three tickets to the game for James Pritchett, Mark McClure, and me. I can't thank Scott enough for his help on the West Coast and James and Mark for putting me up for the first three days of my trip. The picture below is all three of us in front of the Willie Mays statue.
Anyway, back to the stadium.
Location: AT&T Park, to a San Francisco neophyte, seemed to be pretty well located close to the Embarcadero BART stop, located on the tip of the West Bay. From Oakland I took a BART ride and a subway transfer with James Pritchett that had us there in less than an hour. Easy. Parking looked to be muy expensive, about $30 to park close. We had to walk a mile and a half or so to get back to Mark McClure's $10 lot.
Ballpark: The outside aesthetic reminded me a lot of Minute Maid Park, and they opened the same year. The red brick outside with greenish metal for parts of the exterior are essentially identical. The big difference I noticed pretty quickly was the relative size of the stadiums. Upon walking in to AT&T Park, the stadium seemed to be pretty cozy, even with the expansive bay behind it. There aren't many outfield seats - their seats along the bay in right field compare pretty well to MMP's Crawford Boxes. The SF brass obviously built the park and its short right-field porch with Barry Bonds in mind, just as the Astros did with the Crawford Boxes for Bagwell and Biggio.
Anyway, the deepest part of the park is 421 feet, but where balls go to die is the 404 ft. gap in left-center. Saw two balls completely die out there today.
This is the view of the stadium from my seats - pretty unbelievable, huh?
Food: The food selection wasn't too great - your typical hot dogs, premium meats, chicken fingers, popcorn, a few Mexican food stands, and a garlic fries spot that was hard to miss. I actually enjoyed a cup of clam chowder that could have come in a bread bowl, but I was walking around and just couldn't have handled that. I had a $9 draft Lagunitas IPA that was in a pretty small cup. They were both good but probably not worth what I paid for them. As an aside... garlic fries have become quite the ballpark phenomenon. I'll be surprised if I find a ballpark that doesn't carry them, except Toronto of course!
Game: The Giants have been playing really well, and we caught their #4 starter Jonathan Sanchez against Charlie Morton of the Pirates. Sanchez threw a no-no on July 10th of last year, so I knew he had good stuff coming in. I also saw my first live inside-the-park home run - hard to believe I never saw one at the Astrodome - hit by former Astro Aubrey Huff. That bomb took a really weird angle off the right field well, but it set up a four-run inning by the Giants. Sanchez struck out 11, walked 3, and gave up 3 hits and no runs over 8 IP. After opening day in Houston and the game today, I think Giants fans everywhere owe me something.
Summary: The view was awesome with absolutely perfect weather, I was with two good high school friends and I saw a great baseball game. Can it get much better than that? Doubtful.
I'm going to exclude Opening Day with the Astros on my official record count for now, so consider me 1-0 to start the trip!