Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day 44: AT&T Park

All photos of San Francisco and AT&T Park available on Flickr.

Today was our 2nd day in the Bay Area and we had a lot of sightseeing planned before the 7:15 Giants game. After checking out of our fabulous (but much too short) stay at the Downtown Mariott, we headed down to Fisherman's Wharf. It was very similar to Pike Market in Seattle - lots of local vendors, right on the water, many tourist shops, and of course, tons of seafood restaurants and stands. We walked around for about a half hour and then grabbed a bite by Pier 39, which only 30 years ago was little more than vacant warehouses and is now a thriving commercial district. Whereas Seattle restaurants seemed to feature oysters, here in San Francisco they were big on salmon and crab. The coolest part of Fisherman's Wharf was definitely the awesome views of the bay and Alcatraz Island.

After lunch, we headed a bit west to Ghirardelli Square. I'm sure most of you out there have heard of Ghirardelli chocolate, and this particular square used house the main factory when the company started even before SF was a city. In the 1960s the plant was moved and the many buildings on the block were left vacant. Today, it is a model historic preservation and adaptive reuse project that has condos and shops, and not to mention many places to eat chocolate. This was the thing I was looking forward most to seeing in SF and I thought it was really cool, and I hope I can come see it again someday when the whole project is finished. After a few chocolate samples and a walk around, we ended our afternoon with a drive through Lombard Street (the world's crookedest street) and Golden Gate Park. After checking in to a hostel downtown, it was off to the ballpark.

Parking was kind of a nuisance at AT&T Park. The lots are located right on the other side of McCovey Cove for $30! We parked about 6 blocks away and it was still $20. Granted I am sure most people take a boat or the train, but the price was still ridiculous. We had a pretty good spot right by the cove, but we ended up having to compete with a lot of hobos and made only $18. I don't mind setting up by vendors and scalpers; in fact, we always look for them because we know they know the rules of where you can and can't solicit. However, it is usually the homeless that provide distractions when fundraising. They always linger around and read our signs, requesting that we build them a house instead of raising money. Today in particular I got grief from a guy who didn't seem to understand that we were actually raising money for people in the Bay Area and not a corporation. We got into kind of a tiff and he yelled at people for a few minutes telling them not to donate before he finally decided to wander off. I can't get too angry though, because in the end, I realize that Erik and I are invading their turf - they were here collecting money before we were.

But, I digress. The park is already in its 8th season, but it still seems to be incredibly new. I really enjoyed it, although in comparison to where we were yesterday, any park would seem nice. The most unique part of the park is Levi's Landing in right field. Above a 20-foot wall, there is only about three rows of seats and a walkway that separates the field from McCovey Cove, where there are always tons of boats, rafts, and kayaks camped out to catch homerun balls. Despite the fact that there have only been 44 "splash hits" in 7 1/2 years, people still seem to enjoy hanging out in the cove. Also, the thing with AT&T Park is that the worse your seat, the better your view out is. We had about 5th row seats in the upper deck behind home plate, and our view of the bay was amazing.

Erik and I both expected there to be many more boats in McCovey Cove than there actually were, because we were lucky enough to be attending a game in which Barry Bonds had a chance to break the most hallowed record in all of sports - the all-time homerun record. Bonds hit #755 in San Diego on Saturday, and there were thousands of flash bulbs going off with every pitch he saw (myself included) hoping to catch #756 in action. We bought these seats in March in anticipation of possibly being in San Fran for this moment, and so we had excellent seats for only $20 each. I'm sure we could have sold these seats for at least $100 each if we really wanted to. Bonds did not hit a homerun, but being at that game was very surreal and I was glad to get the opportunity to potentially witness baseball history. Unfortuantely for all the people who left in the 7th when Bonds got taken out of the game, they actually missed a pretty good conlcusion. The game went into extra racks, and just when it looked like the Nationals would win it in the 10th on a Dmitri Young HR, the Giants responded with a run in the bottom half. They ended up winning in the 12th on a bases-loaded single by Randy Winn, who had 4 hits in the game. Young phenom Tim Lincecum went 7 innings for the Giants and struck out 8.

Tomorrow we're making another stop at the bank and for an oil change before heading down the Pacific Coast Highway toward Los Angeles. It's a day off and we plan on meeting up with my friend Fionnegan near Valencia for dinner and trying to coax him to let him sleep on his floor.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 7
views from park - 10 (SF Bay)
view to field - 7 (good from most areas, upper deck has staircase obstruction like at Miller Park)
surrounding area - 7 (downtown Frisco)
food variety - 6
nachos - 6 (very simple, small and cheap)
beer - 7 (good variety, Pabst on tap, souvenir cups...major points deducted for price)
vendor price - 8 (excellent except for beer)
ticket price - 6
atmosphere - 10 (best crowd so far, at least until Bonds came out)
walk to park - 4
parking price/proximity - 1
concourses - 8
team shop - 9

best food - Louisiana Link w/ pepper and onions
most unique stadium feature - Landing in RF/McCovey Cove
best jumbotron feature - there was a jumbotron, but nothing of note occurred on it.
best between-inning feature - Lou Seal tosses t-shirts

field dimensions - 330/399/307
starters - John Lannon (WAS) v. Tim Lincecum (SF)
opponent - Washington Nationals
time of game - 3:19
attendance - 43050
score - 3-2 W
Brewers score that day - 6-2 L

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