So I hit sunny San Diego and PETCO Park yesterday by myself. It was the first game I have attended without any company, which enabled me to go around the stadium and not feel burdened, but at the same time hurt my game experience. I've had such good friends go with me that this game was pretty dull until the 7th inning.
San Diego is a city you HAVE to visit with a couple friends. I stayed at the Doubletree downtown about a mile and a half from the Gaslamp District and PETCO, and the the walk isn't bad, but for many reasons I definitely would have preferred staying closer to the stadium. The Hard Rock Hotel and Omni looked like absolutely beautiful hotels and vacation spots.
A big thank you to Scott Cabaniss and his Padres contact, Justin Wolfe, for an amazing seat. I might owe Scott a new car when this whole trip is all said and done.
Location: PETCO is located pretty much in or right outside the Gaslamp Quarter/District. It's a beautiful area, and the closest thing that compares to the density of adult drinking establishments is 6th Street in Austin, which blows pretty much anywhere out of the water. It's easily the best located stadium I've been to so far, and it looked like the parking was plentiful and there was minimal traffic.
Ballpark: The park itself looks kind of bland from the outside. I guess the green metal aesthetic I've seen on so many ballparks is finally growing on me. Well PETCO has sandy colored limestone or some other rock, which kind of gives it a light adobe-looking outside. It fits well with the underlying themes of San Diego, but it only looks OK on a ballpark. You can decide for yourself.
The stadium has personal seating section reserved at the top section of a few aisles that looked to seat about 15-20 people. I assume all you can eat food, but I'm not sure the food and private seating were worth the ticket price and the compromised view of the field. The park also has something similar to the Union Station rooftop at Minute Maid Park, called Western Metal Supply Co. It takes up the majority of straightaway left field and looks to have a ton of seats, a restaurant, bar, and party patio. It looked pretty cool. Instead of a huge scoreboard in center, PETCO has a large grassy area where parents can take their kids to play and still see the game. Next to the grassy knoll there's a small baseball diamond crowded with youngsters trying to play.
One thing I really enjoyed about the stadium was its dedication and exhibits honoring the military. San Diego markets itself as the military's MLB team since the area has such a large Armed Forces population, and the stadium has a model carrier in right-center and a list of every MLB player who has been in the Armed Forces. It names the campaigns and the branch. Really cool.
Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn
"MLB Players who served their country"
Joooooltin' Joe! And his brother!
Ted Williams, aviator
Western Metal Supply Co. in left field
Food: The food selection wasn't great. I have decided, however, that I'm going to start an SCPI (Stadium Consumer Price Index) that consists of a dog and a large draft beer. I decided not to add the ticket price because the prices are so different, even within a stadium. I think it's much more useful to know how much you're going to spend once you get there. In PETCO's case, the SCPI was a solid $11.25 ($7.25 for a draft, $4 for a dog). Besides that, they had Mexican, BBQ, a pizzeria...and not much else. A couple of restaurants in the stadium seemed to offer similar items to what was available in the concourse. I walked away impressed with the beer selection, probably because they had Shiner. The guys saw my Texas ID and said that everyone from Texas ALWAYS gets a Shiner. I really couldn't have been prouder of myself.
Shiner is 7th from the left.
Game: What a game, though! It was kind of dull for the first seven innings, as the D-backs threw out Ian Kennedy (formerly of the Yankees) and the hometown Padres threw out a lefty named Wade LeBlanc. Thank goodness for relief pitchers, or my on the road record may have been blemished. Both Kennedy and LeBlanc threw well - it was 1-0 D-Backs when they both left the game. San Diego's relief promptly gave up a solo home run to Mark Reynolds, but in the bottom of the 7th the Hairston brothers came to the rescue for the Padres. Scott hit a shot to left to cut the lead in half, and Jerry Jr. hit a double to tie the game. Then my fantasy player, Chase Headley, came up with a triple and scored on an error in the relay. Really Headleys up baseball.
HA! Kidding about the pun. I know it's terrible.
Anyway, the fans seemed to be into the game the entire time and I don't think they realized they're watching a .500 ball club. Certainly an improvement upon last year. Let's just hope the Astros can rebound eventually, too. 60% of the time, it works every time.
He's standing in the middle of the baseline, saying, "You gotta take home plate from me!" So there I go head first...
Picture is of the guy in the background. Sweet Fu Man Chu. Would had been better, but taking pictures of random people is really awkward.
Friars, not fathers
OK, so I've hated David Eckstein for as long as I can remember (former Cardinal). This fan's "X" after a weak line out epitomizes my feelings towards the man perfectly.
Heath Bell has big ol' legs but doesn't use 'em. His arm might fall off in less than two years.
Padres celebrating another victory for Joltin' Joe.
Summary: The stadium looks kind of bland from the outside, but blends in well with the rest of the city. It is in a GREAT location, and has a lot to offer every type of fan in attendance. I scored a sticky schedule, bringing my giveaway tally up to 2. The dog that I had was good, but besides that, you might be better off getting a meal somewhere else before or after the game. Oh, and I didn't run into any garlic fries. Streak over.
If you're ever in San Diego, I recommend stopping by the Gaslamp Quarter for sure and PETCO if you have time.
Giveaways: 1 A's Snuggie, 1 Padres sticky calendar
Gratuitous and nonsensical Anchorman references in this post because I was in San Diego: 3