Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweet Home San Diego

About 10 years ago, when I was still a wee Lil Coop, I had a dream.  A dream involving San Diego.  I didn't know what it was about, who was in it or why I was even dreaming about that city.  I'd never even been further west than Philadelphia at the time, let alone on the west coast.  But I'd had such a vivid dream that I really felt like I belonged there.  So much so that when opportunities arose that I would move to the west coast (namely San Francisco), I was never that jazzed simply because it wasn't "home" to me.  It wasn't San Diego.

I also had a dream once upon a time that I would be a sports writer or working for a Major League Baseball team.  I once thought in this time period that I would work for the Padres (although my allegiance as many of you know goes straight to that damn team that plays in Flushing).

In any respect, I am happy those dreams didn't pan out exactly.  Cause I'll tell you this -- I did NOT like San Diego.  Perhaps I did it all wrong and since I didn't exactly deviate off-plan (except for Sunday when I had to book another hotel room since the one I originally booked was fuckin' scary - picture it: the apartment where Jules and Vince go to whack those guys who screwed Marsellus Wallace over -- I was staying in that building.  Not pretty), anyway let's just say San Diego didn't leave as indelible impression on me as it's northern counterpart, San Francisco (which leaves me lamenting not jumping at several opportunities I had back when to go there.  Bastards).

In any respect, let's start with Petco Park. As I mentioned in my post from the other day, Petco Park is my least favorite California baseball stadium.  I LOVED Telecom-Conglomerate-Name-Here Park in San Francisco in hindsight, absolutely adored the history of Dodger Stadium, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Angel Stadium.  I can say that out of the 15 Major League stadiums I've been to (Shea, Yankee I, Yankee II, Shea II, Vet, Citizens Bank, Camden Yards, The Trop, Fenway, Wrigley, Miller, SBC/AT&T, Dodger, Angel, Petco), I liked Petco Park second from the last of 15 with #15 being Tropicana Field (if you ever have the opportunity to go there...don't).

I can't put my finger on it.  I guess it was a combination of things.  One was the size.  According to these fans (the jersey is from being the 500K rider on the SD Trolley and she won the jersey and some free rides for a year I think), the stadium seats around 42K.  I thought the stadium looked awfully big for that.  But then again, there is a lot of unused space (I'll get to that in a minute).

I thought the whole building-around-the-warehouse thing was very charming - actually, come to think of it, I really enjoyed the warehouse which was a San Diego Padre historical-time-line
and SD Baseball History "museum."  

I'm sure many of you wonder - how much history can a team that never won a World Series, has no no-hitters (like another team but at least we've won a WS or two), never had a player hit for the cycle, and has only been around 40 years (this is their 40th anniversary) exactly have?  Well, according to the exhibit, it wasn't just the Padres that played there.  In fact, I consider myself very knowledgeable about baseball history not just Mets/NY National League history, and I was amazed by the information in this exhibit.  I definitely give it a thumbs-up and something to look forward to visiting if you ever find yourself in the area.  Giving credence to the saying, "You learn something new every day."

Anyway, back to the seating.  There is a whole back area in the outfield/bleachers that almost looks like it could be your neighbor's backyard.  

If you didn't need a ticket to enter the complex, it would be a nice place to picnic.  There is a field where kids can play, similar to our "Kiddie Field" at Citi.
Apparently there is a Tony Gwynn statue back there that I completely missed (found out about it Sunday, but I was settled in and couldn't get a pic).  I guess my point is there is a lot of unused space.  Therefore, the seats are squished together and not very comfy (unlike CitiField's leg room).  Also, I saw this on Sunday, but their version of the "Excelsior" is called the "Toyota Terrace" and there seem to be fewer seats in that section as well.  

I sat in the right field bleacher section this night.  I had a good view of the Padres-vision...and of Jeff Francoeur's hiney.  I have to say, I don't know if it was the giant margarita I had before the game
or if he's washed himself of his nasty Brave stank...Frenchy has a nice tush.  

Not Brian Schneider quality.  But nice.  Moving right along...

Touching on the Padres history or lack thereof, it was "Hall of Fame" weekend.  Now, possibly my two favorite players growing up were Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn (and a big regret of mine is not going to Cooperstown to see them inducted in the HOF), and to me, nothing says "Padre" more than "Tony Gwynn."  In fact, besides Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield went in as a Padre (which shocked the heck out of me -- I never thought of Winfield as a Padre).  But Rickey Henderson went into the Hall as an Oakland A, played a few years with the Padre.  The Coop forgot about this stint.  But they honored him with a "Rickey Henderson Night" and let him throw the first pitch.  That was pretty cool.  However, I don't think the fans much appreciated it.  I know I did -- I mean, come on, it's RICKEY HENDERSON.  Despite what you may think of him as a personality, he is a memorable character and certainly one of the greats.  But I still thought it was hilarious that the Padres had to reach for the stars to get a night like that right.  

Anyway, the game itself was kind of boring.  Sure, Oh Pea was pitching and I was in a new stadium.  But I wanted to walk around.  

I talked to a few of the ushers (I found West Coast ushers in general are very nice, willing to answer your questions, and if they don't know the answer, direct you to who might know).  
I thought this sign here about waiting till the completion of the at-bat to re-enter your seats.  Here's something West Coasters are better at, and that's baseball etiquette.  Fer sher.

I also met some random baseball fans as well who were doing a West Coast Park trip.  
They were from Northern Cal though -- starting off in Oakland, driving down to SD, and they were going to the Saturday game in Anaheim like I was.  However, they were going to hit Dodger Stadium on Sunday, while I was hitting it Saturday night.  We got a photo together, here.  
Don't worry, folks:  No boobs were harmed in the taking of this photo.  I don't understand how in this day and age being a female sports fan not to mention one who would travel cross-country for a team/sport surprises anyone.  Oh well.  I guess it is kind of cool.  But not because I'm a chick.  Because I'm devoted.  

During the 9th inning, I was getting antsy.  I wanted K-Rod to close out the game cleanly but it appeared that was not going to happen.  I had met some Mets fans (and Facebook buddies) earlier in the game, BradH and his girlfriend.  Funny thing was, we were staying at the same hotel and had gone over to the game together.  We were going to go back to the rooms together and practice the Buddy System.  
After Frankie gave up the tying run, I was tired.  I was bored.  And I needed to prepare myself to see not one but two games the next day with teams that actually had something to play for.  So I took off.  However, the cabs were only lined up on the other side of the stadium, so I had to take a walk.  I found myself on Tony Gwynn Blvd. How nice.  

It would be nice to have something like that at CitiField, recognizing a great from their past and not Jackie Robinson (who I have the highest respect for -- he just wasn't a Met).  When I talked to some of the ushers at Petco, and I complimented them on the set up of their stadium, (now while I wasn't exactly a "fan" of the stadium itself), I kept coming back to where CitiField failed in my eyes.  

I know and recognize it is still a work in progress.  And I heard that in the last road trip they were able to get some "Met-friendly" items up.  However, the San Diego Baseball History "museum" kept reminding me of the urgent need for something going over New York's National League baseball history (which is incredibly rich even prior to Brooklyn Dodger and New York Giants).  A timeline indicating significant Mets events.  Even when I go into details on my trip to Angel Stadium, there is so much acknowledgement of the team's past, while the Mets have none or very little at their own home.  See, if I had kids or nieces or nephews or whatever, I would think it would be so cool to have something like this to point out to them and be like -- Darryl Strawberry was drafted this day, or June 15, 1983, was the day Keith Hernandez was traded for Neil Allen and Rick Owenby.  Of course, I could just tell them this, but it would be such a trip to have an interactive station like that.  

And in other stadiums, teams SOLICIT opinions of their senior season ticket holders and mini-plan holders for input on the stadium.  How novel.

Oh, by the way, the Mets lost this game.  K-Rod managed to not record a K or an out at the very least.  On a rookie's first ever pinch-hit walk-off grand-slam.  Enough hyphens for ya?  Didn't-think-so.  But I was heading back to my room when it happened.  So I didn't see it.  

For I was going to Dizz-Knee-Land the next day. 

Stay Tuned for Part Three of the Great West Coop Trip -- in Bizarro Shea.  

1 comment:

Will said...

I have been to San Diego but no guys have ever almost touched my boobs.