Thursday, June 21, 2012

Baseballventures: Rare Convergences

Rare Convergence #1: Two Stadium Double Header

Growing up in a two-team city, I learned pretty early on that the two teams rarely if ever had home games on the same day. How did I learn this? I had the idea I could go to a Cubs game and a Sox game in the same day! Then I scoured the respective schedules and found that they were never home on the same day. Sure, it would happen every now and then, but to a kid it might as well have been never.

Then I moved to the Bay Area, another two-team metropolitan area. Same story. Except a couple of years ago my office went to an A's game during the day and I realized that the Giants were in in town playing a home game that night! I dreamed of attending two games on the same day in two different cities! Where else could you do that?

But I didn't do it that day, because I was tired and I knew it would be freezing-ass cold at the Giants game that night and I didn't want to deal with that.

Then this year, looking at the Cubs/Giants schedule, I happened to notice that the Cubs and Giants were set to play a day game at AT&T Park on June 4 with the A's to play the Rangers that night at the Coliseum! So I bought tickets to both. My dream would become a reality!

GAME 1: Cubs vs. Giants (box score)
Brrr.... It was COLD. Yes, it was a day game, but even starting at 12:45, the game-time temperature was 54 degrees. I bought tickets in the upper deck, because they're cheap and you have the good views. I'd also wanted to get ones in the shade, thinking it would be sunny and hot. Instead we were in the last row of the upper deck where tarps over the chain-link fence create a wind-tunnel blowing the arctic foggy winds directly into your soul. We did not stay there for long, but wandered around, found some standing room, and eventually lost interest as the Cubs blew a 2 run lead when Starlin Castro forgot how many outs there were.

I know a lot of Giants fans, and yes AT&T Park is pretty. My problem with it is this: A game there is a commercialized attack on your senses. Every exposed square inch of that stadium has an ad on it, and every second of that game is sponsored by someone. Now I realize they financed the stadium privately and need to make all that money back through advertisements, but it's still little too much for me, especially considering I spent my formative baseball years at the relatively ad-free environment of Wrigely Field. But it goes beyond ads. There's never any downtime at a Giants game. They fill every moment with some sort of pre-recorded cheer blasted over the loudspeaker. There can be silence at a baseball game. Really. It's ok. It makes it easier for people to chat.

GAME 2: Rangers vs. A's (box score)
By contrast, the game-time temperature at the A's game at 7:05 was 58 degrees. Not much warmer, but certainly less windy, and also just a little less well attended. Ok, there were about 30,000 fewer people the A's night game on a workday than there were at the Giants day game. While certainly not good for the A's, a sparsely attended game, with fewer ads, sponsors, and loud-speaker cheers makes for a much more relaxing game. And they have helmet fries! (pictured at the top)

We never bothered going to our actual seats, but found some nice ones in the Plaza Level and set up camp. The A's exploded for an 8 run second inning and sailed on through the rest of the game. Pitcher Jarrod Parker walked a few batters, but had a no-hitter going through the end of the seventh inning! I've seen a no-hitter once. I saw Bud Smith of the Cardinals no hit the Padres in 2003 (box score). Heading into those last three innings, it starts getting really intense. We'd definitely hit that point. Unfortunately Michael Young led off the inning with an up-the-middle single. Parker only faced two more batters in the inning, however, getting a pop-fly and a double play to end the inning. A reliever came in to pitch the ninth.

Rare Convergence #2: Summer Solstice and Root Beer Float Day
Every year, the A's have a Root Beer Float day where players and local celebrities scoop out Root Beer Floats to raise money for charity. Diana's always wanted to go, but usually it's a day game and she had work. But this year it was a night game and on the longest day of the year! This time we bought Plaza Level tickets and actually sat in our seats. With the Dodgers in town, Root Beer Float Day, and $2 Wednesdays, it was a lightly larger crowd. About 15,000 more people than before.

The Root Beer Float portion of the festivities were before the game and awesome. I got an Orange Float as I do not like Root Beer Floats. We wandered around. Saw David Justice & Terry Stienbach scooping ice cream as well as an entire line-up of players wives, girlfriends, and one player mom. It was really fun, and Diana bought an old surplus Ryan Sweeney jersey for $5!

We sat in a section with a lot of Dodgers fans, but they didn't have much to cheer about as the A's came from behind for a 4 to 1 win (box score).

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