Recap : Padres 5, Giants 4
This is my final road trip of the year!
And what better way to close out the season than with a 7 day, 6 night, 5 game California swing!
After a 4 AM wake up in NJ and a connection in Chicago, I landed in San Diego a little before 10 AM and checked into the Hard Rock Hotel (about 300 yards from the ballpark). Over the past 10 years I've lost count of the number of trips I've taken to the Bay Area, but this is my first time back in SoCal in over 20 years!
San Diego is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful people, beautiful weather, beautiful beaches.
I spent most of the day in La Jolla at the beach, the cove and in town and had some insanely good tacos at The Taco Stand.
Across the bay from downtown is beautiful Coronado.
After exploring the beautiful beaches, I then took a ride up to scenic Mount Soledad before heading back downtown and spending sometime in the Gaslamp Quarter where there's a vast array of great shops, bars and restaurants.
After going back to the hotel to recharge and change, I walked over to the park about and hour or so before first pitch.
Petco is a beautiful stadium with a unique 'Southern California' look of white steel and sandstone.
All of the 42,500 blue seats are close to the field and are angled toward the pitchers mound. The three tier grandstand extends from the right field foul pole around to home plate and to the left field foul pole. At the left field foul pole is a San Diego landmark, the Western Metal Supply Building which is part of the left field wall and foul pole. The Western Metal Supply Co. building is iconic, dramatic, and an essential cornerstone of the character of Petco Park. Its gorgeous brick presence serves as a metaphorical bridge between baseball’s past and future and now houses offices, suites and a public restaurant.
Beyond the right field fence is a faux beach with bleacher seats and beyond that is a sloping grass hill where fans can layout blankets and watch the game (ala 'lawn seats' in many concert venues) for only $5 a ticket! At the top of this 'park' sits the statue of Mr Padre himself - the late Tony Gwynn.
Behind the fence in right field is an are called 'The Beach' where fans can visit during batting practice and occasionally snag a home run ball. Once the game begins, The Beach is restricted only to Bleacher Ticket Holders, but no one really enforces that. Yes, it is actually a sand beach and has an area to play volleyball. Who would expect anything less in a San Diego ballpark?
But without a doubt, the main highlight of this beautiful park is the food!
You can go to Petco just to eat and drink and not watch a single pitch of the game still get your money's worth. The food and beer options are substantial, so much so that deciding what to go with can take you all game. Plus, there are many great alfresco dining areas to enjoy your meal.
I couldn't summon the energy to sit here and type all the ones worth stopping at since there are just too many - so I've added a link listing them. My personal favorites are The Tri-Tip at Phils BBQ, The Mahi Mahi tacos at Rimels and the amazing hand made ice cream sandwiches at Baked Bear. There's also really great brisket at Randy Jones BBQ named for their former All-Star hurler.
The selection of great local craft beers is amazing highlighted by my favorite, Ballast Point Sculpin.
The contest was a good one as well. The Giants jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st when a Brandon Crawford single off started Andrew Cashner plated 2 runs. Jake Peavy (a former star pitcher here in SD and now a pitcher for the Giants) was masterful through 6 then handed over to the bullpen. Before an out was recorded in the 7th, Yangervis Solarte tied the score on an rbi double. The Giants went back on top with a run in the 8th, but the Friars took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a Travis Jankowski single that brought home 2 runs. The Padres had a chance to close it out in the top 9th with their all star closer Craig Kimbrel getting the ball, but a Matt Kemp error and Brandon Crawford rbi single tied the game. Onto the bottom of the 9th all tied where Jedd Gyorko would be the star knocking in the game winning run with an rbi single giving the Pads a walkoff win.
Tomorrow is an early morning bus ride up to LA to see the Dodgers
Fans - B- - Overall, people were not as warm and outgoing as they were in the mid-west, but still very civil. I'd think that it would be hard to be an asshole when you live in San Diego where every day is sunny and gorgeous.
Features - A+ - Faux beach, lawn seats, viewing deck over the bullpens, great alfresco dining areas. A great place to watch a game or just to hang out and enjoy the beautiful weather and food! One of my favorite parks and will likely be one of yours as well!
Location - A+ - Right in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, a short walk from everything. Light rail a few hundred yards away - Lots of post game action
Food - A+ - So many great local micro-brew options including the Ballast Point Beer Garden , one of my favorites. The best food options of any MLB Park!
Game - A - Game was close and exciting throughout. Blown save in the 9th by Kimbrel, but a walk off win for the home team
Overall - A+ - Beautiful city, beautiful weather, beautiful ballpark. Amazing food and great beer. You would love this place even if you hated baseball.
Too bad the Padres haven't been able to put a better product on the field in recent years.