My wife and I are on vacation for the next couple of days in San Francisco. One of our first stops there on Saturday was to see a game at AT&T Park. We try to hit an MLB game whenever we are on vacation if that team is in town. I think this is my 11th stadium of an MLB team (Twins, Royals, Cubs, Rangers, Cardinals, Rockies, Dodgers, Yankees, Indians, Brewers). The Giants were in town this weekend so we wanted to add them to the list. The A's were in Houston so no chance of skipping over to Oakland and catching them as well.
You always see the beauty of the bay and McCovey Cove when you see a Giants home game on TV and it lives up to expectations. The game we went to started at 1:05 so it was mid-afternoon. I can imagine it being even a little more enjoyable for a late afternoon or night game when the sun starts to set and the lights come on. But even during the day it was a great experience.
But just a quick overview of the stadium experience. You get off the transit system and start walking the two blocks to the park and you walk past parking lots with people tailgating. I always love stadiums where people are tailgating before a baseball game. It's no Miller Park or anything for pregame tailgating but there were a good number of people out. Then you continue walking to the stadium and you have your guys trying to scalp or buy tickets like you do everywhere but then you also have people trying to sell you homemade or knock-off merchandise or clothing from the streets. Some homemade necklaces, or screen print t-shirts, of hats/shirts with knockoff logos. I always like stadiums that do that, it adds some character to the park I think.
Keep walking and you reach a small area set up with bars and places to grab a quick bite. We didn't venture over there but it looked like a great place to hangout or meet up with friends before the game. One spot even looked like a small arcade to get some games in. Past that, there were a couple mini fields for kids to play on and some open areas for adults and families to throw the ball around or picnic on. Created a nice family atmosphere.
From there you reach McCovey cove. Just adds a great ambiance to the stadium of having a pier and a bay right behind the stadium. I'd never seen anything like it before. Then during the games you have groups just relaxing in their kayaks or tubes; drinking, tanning, relaxing, and listening to the game on their radios. It's fun.
Then if you continue around the stadium I was struck with all the different environments you can see. At one point I had the sea behind me, a dog park right in front of my next to the stadium, bars and places to eat beside me, and then city or metro life right across the street. All around the ball park. You can get a little bit of everything.
The stadium itself is pretty similar to a lot of the newer ballparks constructed in the last decade or so. It's really up-to date with a lot of options to eat, do, play, etc. Looked like they had a nice suite area (we were not in there), a little play area in left for kids, and tons of food options. I'd never seen so many concession stand varieties. They each even have their own set up and stand in the outfield. My wife and I shared some "Cha Cha Bowl" which was rice and black beans covered in jerk chicken and nacho cheese. Not your traditional ballpark food but it was really good.
Then the last piece (this went way longer than I expected, sorry) that really made the experience great was all the fans in their Giants gear. I always like when you go to a stadium and its filled with team gear. You go to all stadiums and people are wearing team gear but at some stadiums you have a good number of people who aren't. Not at this Giants game, I'd bet 80-85% of the fans there had some type of Giants gear on. Now I'm sure winning 3 of the last 6 World Series adds into that put it was fun to see that many passionate fans. But we had a great experience at AT&T Park.
I am officially retiring any considerations I had of me competing on The Amazing Race. When you watch the show on TV you always think "Man I could do that. It's looks fun." Then I get out to a bigger city and realize I'd have no idea where I was going or how to get there. I'd be that guy they show going to commercial running around the street looking for a taxi that just left and yelling at my partner.
The transit system out here in San Francisco is just bananas. I didn't want to drive our rental car on the first day so I could relax and not fight traffic. So we tried riding their bus system here and I'd guess that there are easily over 40 different buses and routes you have to choose from. And nothing is just to a destination. You gotta hop on the F, get off and catch the 24, walk to the T stop and holy shit.
Luckily we made it to our first stop, AT&T Park, fairly easily. We hopped on the bus closest to our house and rode for about 10 minutes. Got off and luckily hopped on the next bus that came through and it drove us right to the park. I started thinking that I could handle this and eventually figure it out. Wrong.
We tried going home that night after some site-seeing and it took us an hour and 45 minutes to get home. We got off the bus 4 times when we shouldn't have and were just hopping on random buses hoping they got us closer to our house and eventually we'd find the right one somewhere. It was nuts.
And this is all with a smartphone and apps to guide me. I can't imagine what would happen to me if I had to figure all that out with no technology and across the world in a country where people don't speak the same language as me. Phil would be all "The teams next stop takes them to Portugal, one of the world's most beautiful destinations" and I'd end up booking our travel arrangements to Puerto Rico or something. I'll stick my reality television dreams to Big Brother only from now on.
A big negative to being on vacation this week though is that I have to miss out on the Pokemon craze. I was never a Pokemon guy when I was younger and really don't have much of an idea about what they are are or what the game is. But I do like participating in cultural events and this is definitely something that has taken the country by storm and gotten people talking.
I would like to start when I get back home but I do feel like this is a 2, maybe 3, week phenomenon at best. If the idea is going outside and "catching" Pokemon I can't see that being something that people do continuously for months at a time. I think it's something you want to do for a couple days or a week, but then the novelty wears off. Maybe I'm wrong and a Three Count post in a month or so is my quest to catch this rare Pokemon, but I think I missed the boat on this craze.