While the A's were on the road, I ended up at AT&T Park on two separate occasions. Here's a bit of insight as to what goes on at that peculiar place.
On Friday the 3rd, I got a call at 5:00 from a friend who was already going to the game that night but got upgraded to better seats. Who was I to turn down a chance to watch Clayton Kershaw pitch? I headed over to the San Bruno Caltrain station at about 5:40, 20 minutes before my train arrived. Or so I thought. A car had been parked on the tracks in Palo Alto. I waited with my brother and met two pretty cool guys who were stuck in the same predicament. They were heading to the game for a 21st birthday and they're the type of fans every team wants to have. They knew and loved their team and we spent nearly two hours waiting for the train and talking about all sorts of stuff, from the NBA playoffs to the schools they went to growing up. Hundreds of other people were at the station during the time we waited. Most of them fit the negative stereotype of Giants fans: they were just there to party, drink and get high. Almost all of them left before we finally got a train at 7:30. During the 90 minutes of waiting, 8 southbound trains passed us and 3 completely full northbound trains passed us as well. Most of the people who were at the station around 6:00 had left and decided to go home and forget about the game which they had spent copious amounts of money on, while a few decided to drive up and park near the stadium.
As much as I hate showing up late to a game, I must say it gives a cool perspective as to what the stadium is like during a game. I'm normally in my seat from 20-30 minutes before the first pitch is thrown until a couple of minutes after the game ends, so I rarely see the goings-on in the rest of the ballpark. We got to the stadium in the fourth inning. We got in quickly, although there were a few other people who had just gotten off the train who were finally filing into the ballpark. I hadn't eaten anything in about seven and a half hours. I bolted for the food lines, which were quite long. All the while, I had been using my phone so that I could keep my scorebook updated. It made for quite a funny sight, which attracted the guy waiting in front me in line.
Line Guy was one of the most memorable people I've ever met at a ballgame. I don't know the last time I've ever seen anyone that intoxicated at a stadium or elsewhere, and I've been to parties with large groups of ridiculously wealthy teenagers without parents around. Over the next 20 minutes, he tried to carry on some sort of conversation. I barely remember it and I assume he remembers even less. It included him telling me to watch Major League, his comments on high school basketball because he saw my Burlingame Basketball sweatshirt and something about public transit. At least I think that's what he was trying to say. I couldn't tell what most of his words were other than fuck, which was every other word he said. That's not usually a bad thing, but my much younger brother was right there. I would've ignored Line Guy or told him to leave me alone, but I didn't need to see him both angry and drunk. He finally gets to the front of the line, and says, "I'll have a beer, and ... do you guys have any fuckin' sausages?"
The sausages were at the next stand. I put up with this guy for 20 minutes, and he was in the wrong line.
I finally got my food a few minutes later and got into my seats as the fifth inning draws to a close. AT&T Park has some of the best food out there, but the Coliseum wins on cheesesteaks. At this point, the Dodgers led 1-0 despite paying tribute to LOB City. The woman sitting next to me also fit every negative stereotype you could find. She brought binoculars, but was far more interested in using them to watch the hoodrats fight in the bleachers. There were at least six large fights over the last four innings. She had the most memorable line of the night: "you get so distracted here that you don't even watch the game!" I was also informed that an inning before I got to my seat, a Giants fan in the next section over and two rows up randomly started telling a vendor to go fuck himself. I counted at least three death threats aimed at Dodger fans. At one point, I miss a pitch while eating and ask if the batter (I think it was Pagan) swung at the pitch. Nobody within two rows knew. None of them were paying attention to the game. I also found it funny that Zito walked four and allowed four hits while only striking out one, yet he got a standing ovation.
I guess this game was supposed to help make up for every break the Giants didn't get during their first 50 years in San Francisco. 50 years of McCovey's line drives being caught, Scott Speizio homers, Benny Agbayani walkofs, Pudge Rodriguez's plays at the plate and Ray Durham batting cleanup. The Dodgers had 12 hits in this game and also drew six walks. They combined it all to produce one run. Meanwhile, the Giants had three hits on the night entering the ninth inning. They too had one run.
San Francisco's catcher comes to bat to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning against Ronald Belisario. On a full count, he hits a home run. Of course.
Did I still have a good time? Yes, actually. I got to see Clayton Kershaw pitch and got to watch a thrilling game, despite the unfortunate ending.
One of my friends ended up with a ticket on Sunday, and said that a woman sitting in his row was contemplating when to get food. She didn't mind missing part of the game but she didn't want to miss "the Journey thing". (In the middle of the 8th, they do a sing-along with "Don't Stop Believin'" or "Lights".)
I was back the next Friday to see Tim Hudson with two of my friends, one of which is probably the biggest Giants fan I know. The guy loves his team and loves baseball. A Friday night against the Braves is quite different than one against the Dodgers. The place had maybe 15,000 people there when the national anthem was performed at 7:03. When the game began at 7:15, there were no more than 20,000 in their seats.
Shortly after first pitch. One out into the game, to be exact.
Usually, the place is pretty full during the middle innings. Not on this night. There were visible pockets of empty seats everywhere, even in the bleachers, which are usually quite crowded.
SURE LOOKS LIKE A SELLOUT TO ME
This was in the fourth inning. Still noticeable pockets of empty seats all over, especially at the ends of each seating zone, which leads me to believe the team didn't really sell all of these.
On this night, they continued making up for all the breaks they didn't get over those first 50 years. In the fourth, they scored six runs on eight hits. Of these eight, two were hit hard. Of the other six, five were soft grounders that found holes in the infield, and one, hit by Belt, bounced right in front of the plate and took a huge hop and cleared Freddie Freeman's glove by a foot or two, ending up as a double down the right-field line. As soon as the inning ended, a sizable group of fans headed for the exits. After four innings. They certainly weren't all leaving to watch the Warriors game. It wasn't even a marathon game or anything; it took 2:39 to play the whole thing, and that was with a 22-minute bottom of the fourth.
The real torture would be staying until the end of the game. This was taken in the bottom of the 8th.
This was one of the most subdued crowds I had ever seen there. They cheered during the six-run rally, but that was really it. Aside from when Cain had two strikes on Jordan Schafer, they didn't cheer at all with two strikes on Atlanta batters. We also had decent fans sitting near us, which I guess was just luck of the draw. They seemed to have a general understanding of the game, save for a guy yelling to turn two when the bases were empty and everyone (at least 90% of those in attendance) acting as if routine flyouts were homers. They actually did hit one homer on the night when Pagan went yard in the sixth. "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" is arguably the best home run song in the majors. I also found it funny that nobody, save for my diehard friend, sang along with "Bye Bye Baby" when the inning ended. It's one of the best traditions in baseball.
In all, despite the rotten outcome, it was a nice night at a very nice place to see a game.
I'll be back there on Tuesday to see Strasburg take the hill. Hope to see everyone there on the 29th and 30th.