Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How the West Was ONE

As many of you know, I took a little detour last weekend.  
To the west coast.  

The left coast.  

And the Mets have not had a good record out there as of late.  Can we say they've only one ONE game out of two road trips to Southern California, AND according to tonight's broadcast against the Diamondbacks, will only win one out of five.

I picked a helluva year to follow this team out to the West Coast.  I might have to brief some of my newer readers in that I've been a fan since I was seven.  When I was 11, the Mets were newly championed, and it was fun to follow them on road trips.  Mr. E and I talked about doing stadium tours, but it's hard, with our lives and trying to schedule trips.  The closest I've come in my adult life is in 2007, when Metsgrrl and I went to two games, two days, two stadiums (Mets vs. Milwaukee and Mets vs. Cubbies).  We had, as they would say, an awesome and unforgettable time.

But this time, I don't know if it is the general malaise of following the team this year, the economy, time contraints, etc etc, but all I know is as of two months ago, I was the only person who would commit to such a trip.  As of a month ago, I was the only person to commit.  And for this trip, I was the only one who would commit.  Hey, I can't blame anyone for not going.  I got a free flight and had it not been for that, I might have been wont to cancel the trip myself.  But I also realized a few things.

I'd always wanted to go to San Diego and even as recent as 2005, I was going to go but school prohibited me from doing so.  Furthermore, there are many more stadiums in the SoCal region to visit than just Petco Park.  

I looked at a schedule.  In a stroke of fate, baseball gods smiling on the Coop or whatever, the Angels were playing a 1 o'clock game in Anaheim.  The Dodgers were playing a 7 o'clock game at Chavez Ravine.

It, as they say, was on.

So this became a labor of love for the Coop, a dream that became a reality to not only follow my team on the road, but to declare that I was a baseball fan.  Enough of a fanatic, mind you, that I would do a road trip to a place I'd never been before, and would go by myself.  Sure, I knew some people out there.  But not well enough to drive several hours to take a trip.

Up until last weekend, I had only been to one west coast stadium (from Washington State to California, not counting Arizona...yet).  That stadium was Telecom-Conglomerate-Name-Goes-Here Park in San Francisco five years ago.  After this weekend was through, I'd have gone to four out of five California stadiums, and since I have no desire to visit Oakland Mausoleum, that leaves Safeco for me to visit.  Which I doubt I will get to in 2010 since the Mets probably will not be there.  But I will get there, you will count on it.  Perhaps I will get to Phoenix to visit Chase Field.  

So what were the lessons learned on this trip:

1.) Out of the four parks I've visited in California, Petco Park I liked the LEAST.  
That had nothing to do with K-Rod becoming BB-Rod and hit-Rod and Walk-off Rod and I-give-up-Rod.  Just very generic and not mind-blowing.  Let's put it this way -- I like CitiField a LOT more.  That's saying at LOT.

2.)  Dodger Stadium is odd.  Very eerie.  
Since I consider myself schooled on Brooklyn Dodger (and New York National League baseball) history, knowing this team has only played in this home since 1962 since leaving Brooklyn was a tad haunted to me.  And before you point this out, yes, I do realize they played at the Los Angeles Coliseum prior to Chavez Ravine.  But trust me, if you follow the history, it's weird.  I liked it though.  More on that in a few days when I can get around to processing this trip.

3.) I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Angel Stadium.  It's an older stadium, built circa 1973 as the usher I asked about told me.  But when Disney bought it a few years ago, they made the stadium very nice.  See, if we had a major conglomerate who owned the Mets and not a faux-conglom in the Wilpons, maybe they'd have revamped Shea and it would be nicer like the A.

4.) The more stadiums I visit (in general), the more AT&T Park (which I visited back when it was still SBC Park) gets higher on my list of favorite stadiums.  I'd initially dismissed it as a rip-off of Camden Yards, but with a local charm by being on the bay.  I was wrong.  It's become a stadium I definitely want to get back to.

5.) Lastly, how did people survive without GPS?  Seriously this is the best invention ever, um, invented.  I'm sure I'd have never made it to the stadiums, and would probably be lost somewhere in Nevada had it not been for my Garmin.

So for those of you keeping track at home, my most recent vacation consisted of the following: me flying into San Diego, going to see the Mets play Friday night (loss), driving up to Anaheim the next day for a 1pm game (Angels vs Rangers), driving up to Los Angeles for a night game (LA vs Braves), and then back to San Diego Sunday for the get-away game.  

Four games.  Three days.  Two stadiums, two games, four teams, one day.  Three cities.  

One gal.  One car.  One GPS.  

The entire time, I really wanted someone to share this with.  But then I realized something.The Padres were playing Tony Gwynn's speech when they retired his number, about how he'd be there with his family, his team, the Padres organization...and everyone one of his fans.    

Like Jenny and Bubba were with Forrest Gump as he did his run, My Summer Family was there with me in spirit.  

This is something I've wanted to do, now...you're gonna hear about it!

I will be back tomorrow with my stories.  Night.


Anonymous said...

I've been to PETCO a few times now for Mets games (I live in Orange County)and it is my least favorite as well. Dodger stadium has a charm about it that I can't explain, and I like how open it feels. Angel stadium is great for tailgating, they are very relaxed over there, and you can watch games from the Budweiser patio for usually around $5 or $6, not bad at all. I was at the game Friday night, got a foul ball off the bat of Wright in the 1st (It actually hit me in the back, lol). I don't understand why they just can't win in S.D. I haven't been to AT&T yet, but will have to go next year. You are fortunate to be able to do this, I haven't been to either NY stadium yet, but hopefully soon!

Michael in California

Julie/ChicagoMetsFan.com said...

Aside from the Mets play of late, the trip sounds like it was awesome! My kind of trip.

bravo16 said...

Sounds like a great road trip, would love to take the time to do the same.

Ceetar said...

Citi Field has become my favorite park, but SF is a good one too. I've seen two games there. It's a tie between that one, and PNC in Pittsburgh for second.

I thought Angel stadium was pretty nice too. Reminded me a lot of Citizen's Bank though, which is closer to the bottom of the list than the top. Haven't seen Camden yet, I meant to find a time when I could see that and Nationals Park in the same trip, but finances kept me from doing it this year.

Julie/ChicagoMetsFan.com said...

I really want to see a game at PNC!

G-Fafif said...

Happy you had a good time (that first picture with the cocktail says it all). Tell your Angel Stadium usher, next time you see him, his ballpark was built in 1966 and renovated in 1998.

Go Halos! (My favorite A.L. team to the extent I have one.)

DyHrdMET said...

Your trip sounds like my 10 day vacations to Florida for Spring Training. I'm glad I'm not the only "crazy" one out there.

Let me ask you this - Dodger Stadium is/was 2 years older than Shea. Did you think it's been kept up well or did you think it belongs on the endangered stadium list? The whole historical concept of the Dodgers and Giants having been NY teams is a bit above my head (20 years gone when I was born).

Retire # 31 said...

It was cool to follow along all weekend . The pics you were uploading were great. We do need a waterfall !!

My brother's friend got us skybox tickets for Wrigley for the Saturday game . My brother ,his fiance and my buddy and his wife along with my 6 month pregnant wife will be heading to Chicago in a few weeks. Hopefully we can get a win.

You definitely get major credit for doing that trip alone.

Let's Go Mets !!