Saturday, August 4, 2007
Day 41: Nat Bailey Stadium
All photos of Vancouver and Nat Bailey Stadium available on Flickr.
It's hard to believe it's been over a month since we were in Toronto, but today was to be our triumphant return to Canadia. We left Seattle around 10:30 and what was supposed to be a little over 2 hours of driving ended up taking 4 due to border traffic. Upon our arrival in Vancouver, we promptly found out that all the hostels in the area were booked through the weekend, so our plans of painting the town after the game were thwarted, and we decided that we would drive back and stay with Johnny in Seattle a third night after the game. We had a couple hours before we had to fundraise, and although it was much less than we would have liked, we got to grab a drink in an little area known as Gastown, and we did some walking around downtown before heading back to the park on the south side of town. Vancouver seems to be a very artsy city where people bike everywhere, almost a more laid-back version of Seattle.
We only got about 11 "loonies" fundraising, because as we found out, there are tons of workers on strike in Vancouver, and everyone just assumed that two guys in hard hats holding signs were striking as well. We headed into the park around 6:30, which was a much older park than I had expected. The Canadians have existed in some capacity for over a century, and the stadium itself is in its 50th season this year. There is a rich tradition of baseball in Vancouver that I would have never guessed, and players such as Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner have all roamed the playing fields in Vancouver (albeit Ruth was here for an exhibition). The park itself reminded me of Bosse Field and Grayson Stadium, except larger. It has covered seats that are very close to the field. Besides the fact that it was next to a residential neighborhood and really in the middle of nowhere, it was a much better experience than I thought it would be when I saw the park from the outside.
There were three awesome highlights of our evening that had nothing to do with the game. First, we were selected to be the "Seat Upgrade Fans of the Game," and we got moved to a fourth row seat that was so close that we could hear the coaches in the dugout. I got booed the entire way down to the seat because I had my Maple Leafs jersey on, which I learned would be like wearing a Yankees cap in Boston. A couple people came up to me and asked me about it, but once I told them about the trip, all was cool. The second awesome highlight was in the 8th inning when a couple ran all the way across the field between innings and hopped over the fence in left field. The security guards were way too fat and slow in reacting, and we are pretty sure the kids got away. Erik and I may have very well seen the only successful attempt to run across the field in baseball history. And lastly, it was our 2nd consecutive Fireworks Friday, and our 4th fireworks show overall. It was probably the 2nd best of the 4 so far, behind Cincinnati. Between the ridiculously long game and the fireworks, we were in our seats about 4 1/2 hours on a brisk Vancouver evening.
The game got out of hand fast for the Canadians. Starter Inoel Deaza was getting raked from the get-go, and he ended up getting pulled after 2, giving up 4 runs on 8 hits. Oakes came in and held down the fort for over 4 innings as the Canadians mounted a comeback, but Joe Batten hit a bases-clearing double in the 7th to put the game out of reach for good, and the Canadians ended up losing in the end 10-5. There was a pretty special moment in the 9th inning when Jason Neighborgall entered the game for the Bears. This guy pitched for South Bend (class A) for two seasons before being demoted here, and I have read several stories about him on ESPN. He has been dubbed the "real life Wild Thing," and he ended up walking the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches, none of which were even close, and two of the runs ended up scoring. His ERA before being sent to Yakima was 108, and it is now 7.71 with the Bears. I'm sure Erik and I will eventually be seeing him play in an independent league in the near future.
As I mentioned, we drove back to Seattle after the game, and border security was much less tedious coming through at midnight than at 2 PM. Tomorrow it's off to Portland to watch the Brewers' AAA affiliate Sounds battle the Beavers, after which we immediately leave for Oakland.
park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 2
views from park - 2
view to field - 10
surrounding area - 2
food variety - 4
nachos - n/a
beer - 7 (local beer, decent price)
vendor price - 8
ticket price - 5 ($8 GA a bit pricy for A-ball)
atmosphere - 7 (much better than we thought it would be...pretty packed)
walk to park - 2
parking price/proximity - 10 (on adjacent street for free)
concourses - 3
team shop - 3
best food - chicken tenders
most unique stadium feature - covered seats
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - dizzy bat race/paper delivery
field dimensions - 335/395/335
starters - Luis Caro (YAK) v. Inoel Deaza (VAN)
opponent - Yakima Bears
time of game - 3:43
attendance - 4250
score - 10-5 L
Brewers score that day - 2-1 W