Three ballparks, part 2

San Francisco, California

May 7, 2007: New York Mets 4, San Francisco Giants 9.
My first visit to AT&T Park was eight days after my first game at the Oakland Coliseum. I had intended to catch the previous day’s game against the Phillies when I would have seen Tim Lincecum make his Major League debut but I was on the beach in Santa Cruz, so I made the trek up after work the following day because I wanted to see Barry Zito pitch, as risible as that idea sounds now.

Well, it was wonderful. This park is so beautiful I got a great ticket about 30 rows behind home plate and was rooted to my seat from first pitch to last, totally absorbed in every action of the game.

At some point I missed a Bengie Molina foul ball by ten feet. The Giants scored all 9 of their runs in the 5th inning, including two homers from Molina. I was completely entranced by everything about my first game there and rather fell in love with the Giants.

May 8, 2007: New York Mets 4, San Francisco Giants 1.
I went back the following day with Jason and Orion. It was a much less interesting game, but Barry Bonds obliged with a home run (#745) and almost gave us a splash hit too, but it hooked just foul.

I also had a chance to walk around the park and take a good look at the view from the left field bleachers, as well as the Coke bottle, the retired number plaques and the view of the Bay Bridge behind left field. It’s hard to believe there’s a ballpark in a better location with more charm.

September 24, 2009: Chicago Cubs 3, San Francisco Giants 2.
We drove over the Bay Bridge after the afternoon A’s game to complete a doubleheader at AT&T Park with the Cubs in town. The weather for the Giants game was totally different – cold, windy and foggy. We had excellent seats in the lower bowl to the left of the plate which gave a great view but were behind a white supremacist with a swastika tattooed on his elbow who spat tobacco juice into a beer cup throughout the six innings he was present. He returned from a three inning absence just in time to stand in front of me and block my view of the Giants home run. To add insult to injury, although the Giants had not played well they were eking out a 2-1 win without any obvious problems when with 2 outs and a 2 strike count in the top of the 9th, Brian Wilson blew the save, giving up a 2 run homer and the W to the Cubs, for whom I have a deep and abiding hatred dating back to the ’03 NLCS when I was still a Marlins fan.

September 25, 2009: Chicago Cubs 3, San Francisco Giants 0.
I wanted to squeeze in another game before coming home, so I went back to AT&T Park the next night with an A’s-supporting friend from Santa Cruz who saw almost no games because her partner didn’t like baseball.  This time we sat in the nosebleed seats in the top tier on the first base side where I really enjoyed the view both of the game and the bay, but GOD DAMN it was cold. The game was awful. Tim Lincecum pitched very well for 7 innings but since he had to provide 50% of the Giants’ hits himself he predictably took a loss. The abject lack of hitting meant the game went by a remarkable clip, which would have at least kept Joe West happy if the fat arrogant bastard had been on the field that day, but left me feeling a bit short-changed. However, I was very happy to see a genuine great take the mound as Randy Johnson pitched the 9th inning in one of his final appearances.

We were back in California in October 2010, which coincided with the NLCS and World Series, but unsurprisingly had to watch the Giants win it all on TV as tickets were going for astronomical prices.  Still, it was amazing to be in a bar surrounded by Giants fans as the team first took the National League pennant and then the World Series (which they conveniently did on our last night before we returned home).