Game Recap: Giants 3, Dodgers 2
So, I've reached the final game on my agenda for 2015.
Just 6 more days and sadly, the 2015 season will come to an end. But what a great park and city to finish the year in.
I had an off-day yesterday between games which I spent enjoying the perfect Sunday weather first in Berkley and later down in Napa Valley.
This morning I took the Caltrain from my friend's house in Menlo Park into San Francisco.
Despite being here at least a dozen times already, this was the first time I actually got to spend the entire day in the city by myself and I spent the day hanging out in Union Square, Mission District and The Haight.
After my friend got off from work, I met her in North Beach for some great Italian food then we headed over to the park about an hour before first pitch.
Despite being only 16 miles across the bay from O.co coliseum, the 2 parks may as well be a million miles apart. AT&T Park is the polar opposite of it's cross-bay counterpart in every imaginable way. The fans are more civil and cultured, the ballpark is an aesthetic gem, and the downtown location is walking distance to everything you'd want. The park can be reached via San Francisco's Muni Metro and the King Street Station is directly outside the ballpark.
AT&T is in a much more desirable location than the Giants previous home, Candlestick Park, particularly with regard to thermodynamics. The wind levels here are approximately half those at Candlestick where a common site was papers and debris swirling around the outfield and often into the players faces. Fans had shivered through 40 seasons at "The 'Stick" and now get to enjoy warmer temperatures at AT&T. But because AT&T Park, like its predecessor, is built right on San Francisco Bay, cold summer fog and winter jackets in July are still not unusual at Giants games, despite the higher average temps.
AT&T park has some distinct and unusual features -
On the facing of the upper deck along the left-field line are the retired numbers of former great New York and San Francisco Giant players.
Atop the fence in right field (the wall in RF measures 24 feet high – in honor of #24 Willie Mays) are four pillars with fountains atop. Jets of water burst from the four pillars at the end of the National Anthem and also when the Giants hit a home run or win a game. Also in right field are the old Candlestick Park foghorns – the only things taken from the former park. Beyond right field is China Basin, a section of San Francisco Bay, which is dubbed "McCovey Cove" after famed Giants first baseman and left-handed slugger Willie McCovey. Before the game, Kayakers paddle into the cove and wait for home run balls.
Behind the left field bleachers is "The Coca-Cola Fan Lot" which features an 80-foot (24 m) long Coca-Cola bottle with playground slides that lights up with every Giants home run. "The Coca-Cola Superslide" is popular with children as is with adults. There is also a giant 'old-timey' four-fingered baseball glove made of steel and fiberglass.
This area of the park has the main food concessions including Ghiardelli, Orlando’s Caribbean BBQ (after former Giant Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda) , Tony Gemignani’s Slice House, Crazy Crab’z and The Anchor Grill. There are lots more great options at the promenade and Field View Level. The biggest challenge is deciding what the hell to eat. Food and beer options at the park are exceptional and among the very best in MLB.
Patrolling the crowd and field throughout the game is Lou Seal, the team’s mascot since 1996. Kind of a cute mascot and fitting for the area – but not really very entertaining.
Just like on Saturday in Oakland - the matchup was a dream.
One of the oldest and best rivalries in baseball - Giants vs Dodgers - with the Dodgers only one win away from clinching the NL West title and Cy Young favorite Zach Greinke towing the rubber. There was a full house for the game and the lines to get in were long and slow , but the atmosphere was great outside.
Now as much as I'd love to see a live clincher, there was no way I could bring myself to root for the Dodgers on the Giants turf.
There was a pretty good representation of 'Angelinos' who drove the 6 hours south on 'The 101' (braving the cool 50 something degree evening unlike their preferred element). but other than some friendly jabs, everything was pretty calm.
The Giants held a 2-1 lead coming into the 9th, but closer Sergio Romo couldn't hold it and the game went into extra frames.
The Giants would win in walk off fashion on pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza's 12th-inning sacrifice fly denying the Dodgers from clinching for one more day.
Tomorrow night the Dodgers will try and clinch again with Clayton Kershaw opposing Madison Bumgarner.
As much as I'd love to be here for that game, tomorrow morning I'm flying back to Newark and saying goodbye California and 'see you next year' to my baseball roadtrips.
Fans - A - Civil, cultured baseball fans with a real passion for their team (winning 3 titles in 5 years will do that) and a distinct but not overwhelming air of bay area snobbery
Features - A+ - A giant coca-cola bottle slide (which flashes strobe when a Giant player homers), the 103 foot wide HD video/scoreboard, the world's largest baseball glove and the old Candlestick Park foghorns
Location - A+ - Perfect. Sitting right on the cove offering up some of the best views in baseball. Easily accessible by BART, The King Street Caltrain stop or car. Short walk to a zillion great bars and restaurants
Food - A - Food options are limitless. Season ticket holders can probably eat something different every night. Public House is a great sports bar that's attached to the park and accommodate both ticket holding and non ticket holding fans. Inside some standouts are Orlando's Caribbean BBQ and Tony Gemignani's. A nice touch on the cold night were the vendors with portable backpack dispensers of Ghiardelli hot chocolate.
Game - A+ - Classic Rivalry - Giants v Dodgers , Walkoff win for the home team. Watching Zack Greinke
Overall Experience - A+
Transportation - Driving and parking in the city can be a real stressful experience, but if you have a car waiting on the line of traffic to drive down Lombard street is a nice bucket list item. Mass transit in SF is pretty decent with BART. There are also an abundance of Ubers so you'll never have to wait long for a ride.
"Must sees" - Depending on how much time you have to spend in the Bay Area - there are endless points of interests and neighborhoods worth visiting just in SF alone. Additionally you can take the ferry across to Sausalito & Tiburon or rent a car and drive to Monterrey or Carmel by the Sea. Any good travel site will give you suggestions. Some of the things I enjoyed most in SF -
The Presidio, Golden Gate Park Exploratorium, The Abbots Cellar, Bourbon and Branch and also try and track down a real Bay Area treat and one of the best ice cream sandwiches you'll ever have - It's It Ice Cream