Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 2. MLB: By Our Powers Combined, and Stepping Out of Our League

This will be a blissfully short post for all of you, for today was our least-scrappy day of the trip. While in the Bay Area we felt we had to take advantage to see one of the supposedly-nicest (SF Giants, AT&T Park) and the unarguably-crappiest (Oakland A's, Coliseum) stadiums in MLB. None of us had been to either of these before.

First up, SF Giants:

The game: They got killed. It's Zach's fault for having M. Bumgarner on his fantasy team. Sorry, Giants fans.
Zach spent most of the day trolling Giants fans, primarily by wearing his same-color-schemed Orioles cap.

The stadium: It was quite pretty. We had some sweet lower level seats courtesy of some Friends of the Journeymen (thanks, Lexi and Andrew!), though we spent a good amount of time enjoying the views from the outfield by the Cove and in the upper deck with a better view across the bay into (scenic?) Oakland. The views were indeed spectacular, and all the exposed brick gives the stadium an old-school but still very clean feel. The breeze from off the Bay and just standing in the outfield watching the kayakers was definitely a unique experience we all enjoyed.

We forgot to take a picture of the Cove itself, or any of the spectacular views. Enjoy the outfield.

We all agreed, though, that at least our section of the lower level in right field had too shallow a grade. You were staring at the back of people's heads all the time. The upper deck was not like this, and Ben reports that other parts of the lower bowl weren't, so perhaps it's just that area with a design flaw. But it definitely detracted from the view.

The food options were excellent, unique, and plentiful. Because of lines we didn't have time to sample everything we wanted (crab sandwich on SF sourdough), but we got some Gilroy Garlic Fries (Gilroy is apparently the Garlic Capital of some geographic entity) and Zach had a hot link corn dog that was...well, a spicy corn dog, so awesome. This was also the first and only stadium where we saw Chinese food being sold; makes sense, SF.

Second up, Oakland A's:

The game: The As dominated, because of course they did. This despite Zach having Yoenis Cespedes on his team (so naturally he went 0-for-4). Bonus points for Sean Doolittle - who is dating one of Pat's high school friends - notching the save. Negative points for Pat not remembering this connection in time to score us free seats.

But the coolest thing: most of the game was played UNDER PROTEST from the A's! WARNING: BASEBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE FOLLOWS. SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU ARE UNINTERESTED. This is the second game in 3 years Zach has found himself at that was played under protest (a pretty rare occurrence). The first was the 252' infield fly in Atlanta for the one-game playoff with St. Louis. This time was an interesting play: bases loaded, 1 out, Toronto batting. Batter hits a ground ball to 1B, who semi-tags the runner going to 2nd. 2nd base ump does not signal him out, and in fact signaled him safe. 1B throws home, gets the force at HP but the catcher did not tag the runner. This is important because Toronto challenged that their own runner going to 2nd was actually out, making the play at home not a force and resulting in the run scoring and runners at 1st and 3rd with 2 outs. This challenge was upheld by an umpiring crew in NYC. This made the Oakland manager livid, and he filed an official protest stating that the umps on site should have discretion to interpret whether the runner at home should have been out (the ball arrived home when the runner was still several feet away, and the Oakland catcher could have easily applied the tag). Anyway, it was total chaos and therefore awesome.

The stadium: Speaking of not getting free seats, Oakland is surprisingly expensive. As crappy as the Coliseum is, we have to remember this is the Bay Area and tonight being near a holiday was a pretty popular game. Parking was $20 (and complete anarchy...nobody directing traffic, weaving in and out around tailgaters to find a spot) and the cheapest tickets were $28. The $28 tickets had a "possible obstruction", which we assumed was a column but turned out to be the foul poll. We really should've bought those tickets. Instead we were up a little higher on the plaza level, where we suffered quite the draft that kept our beers - and us - chilled all game long.

Yes, that's your Scrappy Journeymen. In hoodies. In July. Welcome to the Bay Area - this is every night game.

Oh boy, but the stadium. It is crapTASTIC. I should clarify that when we say craptastic, we mean that in an endearing way. This is your old high school stadium - or the St. Paul Saints - blown up to a much larger scale. Exposed concrete, TROUGHS IN THE MEN'S ROOMS (!!!!) (yes, we know Wrigley has them, too), cramped walkways cluttered with concession was pretty awesome.

The dugouts DON'T HAVE FENCES. The players are completely exposed. If you see one picture convincing you how craptastic the Coliseum is, make it this one.

Speaking of the concession stands, we could not find a really unique Oakland-y food to try, but then again we're not certain that exists. It was mostly your basic ballpark fare, nothing that interesting, so Ben and Zach opted for the most horrifying instead.

The appropriately-named Diablo Dog: fried onion strings, "bacon", and nacho "cheese." We're still alive, but why?

The crowd was spirited, however, waving flags and head-banging away as Doolittle came up to shut the door. We had a great time and Zach, at least, would probably own season tickets if his life ever collapsed to the point that he found himself living in Oakland.

The outfield is where it's at. We'll go there next time.

Next up it's Amurrika Day and your heroes will find themselves watching vintage baseball in San Rafael, followed by fireworks in San Jose. Brace yourselves for the two-parter, tomorrow at whenever-the-hell-we-feel-like-posting.

1 comment:

  1. Oakland is usually super-cheap. It leverages Bay Area tech, so that even if you're paying full price for the tickets, you can usually find combo packs granting you two beers and a hotdog for free with your seat. Also I'm surprised that your tickets were so much, last year our combo pack plus cheap seats was only $14 per person.

    Also last year, parking was free for Tuesday night games.