Hey guys and gals! As some of you know, I spent the weekend visiting my friend Jill and her husband Tristan in San Diego. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to catch a Padres game while I was there, particularly since Tristan got free tickets from his boss. There were only two tickets and he's not much of a sports fan, so he dropped Jill and me off outside the gate and enjoyed the afternoon to himself. Meanwhile, I got to feel smart by explaining things like double switches and the significance of the batters' eye to Jill, or supplying helpful bits of trivia about Padres history.
We were there for the Sunday afternoon game vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, and it was a beautiful day (in San Diego - go figure): 75 degrees, sunny, no clouds. They were giving away Padres insulated lunch bags to the kids, but at 6'1" with a goatee I couldn't really pass for 10 years old. Oh well. The stadium was nice enough from the outside, but I'm not much of an architecture guy so I couldn't give you details. There was a waterfall and some hanging plants, neat little touches to distract from the sterility of a monolith of a building. The sandstone was something different, since most new ballparks are all about the brick. It's definitely a good fit for the city.
Our seats were great, about six rows from the field and a little past first base. In case you're wondering, Prince Fielder is pretty huge, but the guy who surprised me with his size was SD rookie Kyle Blanks. Dude trotted out to right field for a double switch, and he looked to be seven feet tall. The thing that really struck me about Petco from the inside was the openness of the outfield. There was a small section of bleachers in right-center that were below the level of the fence, which was see-through (plexiglas or something similar). There was a hill above that section, which served as a picnic area. Center field was taken up by the batters' eye, with championship flags and sculptures of the retired numbers on top. Left-center had the only conventional tiered stadium seating in the outfield, with the video board and scoreboard on top of it. This section directly faced our seats, which didn't seem like the usual placement for the main scoreboard. Then again, I've only been to MLB stadiums in Baltimore and DC, so your mileage may vary. Finally, there's the Western Metal Supply Co. Building, a 100-year-old brick structure that was refurbished with a team store, restaurant, and rooftop seating. Its southeast corner serves as the left field foul line. It may be a bit of a knockoff of the Warehouse, but can you imagine if the Warehouse was an actual part of the field? Wild.
I got sunburned pretty badly, as there was no shade to be found from our close seats and I wasn't smart enough to remember to put on sunblock before the game. My knees and forearms are still lobster red and my face is peeling. What can ya do?
I'd heard that the beer prices in Petco were among MLB's highest, but I sniffed out a decent bargain. They have a 5 for 5 combo inside the park: for five bucks, you get a small soda, hot dog (or veggie dog - ecch), chocolate chip cookie (pretty big), small bag of that awesome stale ballpark popcorn, and a small sealed bag of peanuts. For another $5, you can substitute a beer for the soda. I did just that, even though the beer was MGD. Beggars can't be choosers and such. I got a good chuckle when the beer vendor checked my ID and said, "Oh, a Merry-lander!". I was under the impression that only Canadians pronounced it that way.
As for the game itself, it was pretty dull. The Brewers won 6-1, thanks to a five-run outburst against a series of ineffective relievers in the seventh. The Padres wore their ridiculous camouflage jerseys to honor the Marines, who were on hand. I was spared the horrors and grit of David Eckstein, who had the day off. Of course, this meant that the Brewers had a 2-man gritty advantage with Frank Catalanotto (who I remember as an incredibly irritating Oriole killer with DET, TOR, and TEX) and Craig Counsell both starting. Oscar Salazar popped out in his pinch-hit role, but he had provided PH RBI doubles in each of the previous two games. I cheered for him anyhow. When 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff came to bat or made a good defensive play, the home crowd yelled, "KOOOUUUUZZZZZ!". Ripoff artists. Early in the game, Adrian Gonzalez came up with the bases loaded and one out, and the crowd was pretty electric, but he grounded into a killer double play. Later he drove in the Friars' only run with a solid double. Hmm, anything else? For my money, SD SP Kevin Correia (it was a rare two-Kevin game!) outpitched Brewers opponent Carlos Villanueva, but both pitchers allowed more walks than hits (4-to-2 for Villanueva and 3-to-2 for Correia) and Correia was let down by his bullpen and a lack of clutch hitting. Also, he came up to bat in the 5th with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out, and feigned a bunt before swinging away...and grounding right into a double play. Nice call. The only truly memorable moment came in the bottom of the ninth, when Trevor Hoffman took the mound in San Diego for the first time since leaving in the offseason. The fans gave their closer of sixteen years a standing ovation, and he proceeded to strike out two batters in a fairly easy inning. So that was something.
All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable afternoon. It was nice to check out a new ballpark, and hopefully I'll make it back out there in year or two when the team is actually worth watching.