Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Ending on a High Note

I had a wonderful day at the ball park today, and I got a huge amount of walking exercise done as well. This message is very long, so there are a bunch of cut-tags ahead. No pictures, but plenty of text.

As I'm still without my car, I walked over to Union City BART, stopping for breakfast at Hometown Buffet before taking the train up to San Francisco, where I walked to the ball park and bought a view reserved ticket for $34 -- no service charges or "convenience fees" when buying on the day. They asked me if I wanted first or third base side, and I said "third," while something nagged at me about why I might have wanted "first."

When attending games by myself, I usually take a headset radio so I can listen to the radio play-by-play. As I was walking into the ball park, signals started to fade. My batteries were going dead on me, darn it, and I hadn't brought spares. If they'd faded a few minutes earlier, I could have picked up a new set at one of the stores in the area, but if I left now, I'd miss the first pitch. I ended up nursing the batteries, turning the radio off between innings and during pitching changes to save what little battery there was left. It sort of worked.

Climbing up to my seat in VR 323, Row 11, Seat 9, located directly looking down over the Giants dugout, I remembered why I generally would pick first base if I could -- the third-base seats are in the sun. Although I'd applied sunscreen before leaving home and put on another coat after getting to my seat, I didn't fancy baking in the sun all afternoon. Fortunately, the game was not completely sold out. Although most people move down closer to the field when seats open up, I moved up to where there were some open seats in the shade. I had to move a couple of times when the actual ticket-holders showed up, the last move coming when a group of young Japanese people (I assume they were tourists or students; I don't have enough Japanese to ask) moved in to where I was squatting and I moved up to the next-to-highest row.

I really do wish I'd learned more Japanese. The three girls in front of me were taking photos of each other. By signs, I volunteered to take pictures of all of them together with the field in the background. Suddenly, I found myself holding cameras from the rest of their group, as they all wanted their pictures taken in various combinations with the baseball field below and behind them. I was perfectly willing to do that; I'm a friendly person that way. The girl sitting in front of me, retrieving her camera, took a picture of me as well. I offered her one of my SFSFC business cards, which has my e-mail on it. This is one of those cases where it might have been good if Lisa had been with me, not only because she has more Japanese than my "Arigato gozaimasu" and "gomen nasai," but because she could have offered them one of her business cards from Tsuki Systems, her video production business, one side of which is in Japanese.

I also wish that I'd brought along the orange-and-black wig that you see as my user icon. I have two of them, but I normally only bring them to "Orange Friday" games. I have a feeling that if I'd had them with me, this group would have wanted to borrow them and photograph each other wearing them, which would have enhanced both their experience and mine.

But anyway, back to the game. Tim Lincecum was pitching, and he would need to do something big to catch the attention of the Cy Young Award voters. Well, he did do something that hasn't been done in quite a while -- the first nine Dodger outs of the game were Lincecum strikeouts. (There were also some walks and hits mixed in between the Ks.) While that's impressive, it has a dark side -- Lincecum looked to me like he was trying too hard, and he was spending a lot of pitches. He may have got it into his head that he was going to get so little run support from his side that he was going to have to strike out at least twenty-seven Dodgers.

He game surprisingly close, striking out 13 before leaving the game for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh with the Dodgers leaving 1-0. (Alas, if he'd managed two more, he would have apparently tied the all-time Giants franchise record for strikeouts in a game; as it is, he'll have to be content with the San Francisco Giants record in that category.) He got a standing ovation as he left the field after the top of the seventh, as many knowledgeable fans knew he'd probably be pinch-hit for in the bottom of the inning if the Giants got any sort of threat going. And they did. To the delight of the crowd, the Giants scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead and put Lincecum in a position to win the game because he was still the pitcher-of-record when the Giants went ahead. But in order to do that, the Giants couldn't allow the Dodgers to score any more runs. Even though the Giants scored twice more in the bottom of the eighth, if the Dodgers scored even one more run, Lincesum would end up with a No Decision.

It got dicey in the top of the ninth, with Giants closer Brian Wilson allowing two runners to get on base before buckling down and striking out one and getting one of the Dodgers to ground out to end the game. The crowd roared and we got our last "Beat L.A.!" chant in full voice.

I stuck around after the game for the various ceremonies. It was Fan Appreciation Day, and four finalists announced during the game came onto the field, where four Toyota Rav4s were parked at the bases. They'd each randomly drawn a color and went to their color vehicle and tried to start it. The one who's vehicle started got to keep it. When I saw that there were only two camera operators on the field, I though, "I wouldn't like to be one of the people without a camera crew following him/her." Sure enough, one of the two with a camera crew was the winner.

Speaking of prizes, one of the prizes narrowly missed me. There was an Ipod/gift certificate combination that hit my row, but was ten seats to my left. Too bad.

After the big prize was finished, the Japanese group in front of me left, one of them shaking my hand. I do wish I'd been able to talk to them, especially in light of what happened a little later. But first, there was a retirement ceremony for Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan, where the Giants players presented him with a framed jersey autographed by the players, and Rich Aurelia presented him with the baseball that made the final out of Magowan's final game as MGP, which Rich had alertly snagged after the game ended.

That seemed to be the end, but I saw the field crew setting up walkways for "run the bases," which normally is only for kids, but today appears to have been open to anyone who wanted to do it. Had the Japanese stuck around and I could have explained it to them, I reckon they might have wanted to do it, as part of their American Baseball Experience. I sure wanted to do so, so I made my way down from the upper reaches of the ball park and down to the Portwalk, where I queued up and eventually was let onto the field, where ushers sternly warned us to stay off the grass and stick to the dirt areas only. I heard in passing that one person ran completely and deliberately off course out into the field, and was cited for trespassing. But anyway, soon enough it was my turn. Some people were just walking the bases, but I decided that if it's "run the bases," I was going to run them, and I took off from first with a will, rounded second, and headed smartly for third. After that I had to put on the brakes due to the traffic jam between there and and home plate and the fact that I didn't want to get yelled at (or cited!) for running on the grass after taking a wide turn at third.

As I exited the field through the lower deck box seats, I took a look at the Lexus Dugout Club seats, which are the seats directly behind home plate. One of the ushers assured me that those seats are for sale, although there aren't many of them, and they cost $95-$120 each. Actually, $95 sounds like a pretty good deal for such great seats, but I've certainly never seen them in on-sale inventory for any game I've wanted to attend.

And then it was time for one last pass through the park for this year, soaking up the atmosphere, before exiting to street level and admiring the relatively new statue of Orlando Cepeda at the King Street Gate before turning to head back up the Embarcadero and the BART station. But first, pedestrian traffic was held at the exit from the players parking lot as a car drove out. It was Omar Vizquel, who had been deliberately substituted after the Giants took the field in the sixth inning. I was among those who gave him what may be a farewell ovation and joined in the chants of "Omar!" to coax a curtain call from him. I joined in the applause as he drove out, and he waved and smiled at those of us cheering him.

I headed back up toward the Ferry Building, and as it wasn't quite five o'clock (when the shops close on Sundays), I headed in and bought some cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery. I would have got the candy-cap cheesecake from the mushroom shop as well, but I was too late.

Heading out of the ferry building, I saw a familiar figure, albeit in a setting where I've never seen her before but was not surprised to see her. It was the silver sexy robotic form of my friend Raven. I know that she sometimes performs street theatre as Sexy Robot, but I'd never actually seen her "on the job" before, although I've seen her wearing the costume at conventions. As I've told her when we've discussed her street performances, I would never interfere with her when she's working, but instead applauded her and dropped a dollar in her collection box in order to encourage others to do the same, while stage-whispering encouraging words to her while doing so. The Sexy Robot reacted as you would expect to the contribution, I applauded some more, and waved good-bye and headed home. As I said, I didn't want to interfere with her work.

The BART ride home was blessedly uneventful. I had to stand from Embarcadero to Lake Merritt, but that's no big deal. While waiting for the transfer at Lake Merritt, some of the Raider fans going the other way and waiting for an San Francisco-bound train after leaving the Coliseum asked me how the Giants had done. I relayed the good news of the Giants and Lincecum's victory. "Yes!" they cheered and chimed in with a "Beat LA!" mini-chant. That was unexpected; I wouldn't have thought that I'd agree with Raider fans on anything. :)

Returning to Fremont, I walked over to Walgreen's and bought new batteries for my radio, then had dinner at Chipotle and walked home, which took about 40 minutes -- about the same amount of time as it takes to walk to Union City BART. Not that I am likely to do the walks to either station as a regular thing, but it's good to know how far they are and how long it takes me to do it.

As of right now, my pedometer reads 17,439 steps today. And I can feel that in my feet right now, too. The two blisters I worked up yesterday, even taped up and padded as they were, are complaining at me. Still, it was worth it. The Giants season ends on an up-beat note, and we while this season overall was disappointing, there are elements of promise for the future. I definitely got my money's worth today.
Tags: baseball

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