Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Outlander at Petco Park

When last we saw our intrepid Red Sox road trippers Beth & Kelly, they were enjoying three days at Turner Field in Atlanta. But, now it was back on the road - a long flight west to San Diego.

We got to San Diego on Thursday, an off-day for the Sox. So we decided to visit the San Diego Zoo. It was a gorgeous day - in the 70s, sunny, no humidity - quite a change from steamy Atlanta. The Zoo was really neat - clearly the facility has aged a bit, but you can get really close to the animals. My particular favorites were the meerkats - so cute and funny. Later, I met my nephew Patrick for dinner - we ate in the "old town" section, dining on huge burritos and huge margaritas. It was a fun day!

Oh, our hotel is definitely worth mentioning. We stayed at the US Grant, an historic hotel just outside the Gaslamp District. Beautiful - I was a little worried they'd take one look at us and find they'd "lost" our reservation! It was fun to be near the Gaslamp, not too long a walk to and from the Park, but a little quieter.

Friday was my first visit to Petco Park. It was a night game, so we had a leisurely breakfast at a cool place called Cafe 222. Then, we had pre-arranged a tour of the park - I highly recommend doing the ballpark tour whenever you can. You learn a lot about the team, you see some of the swank places YOUR ticket won't get you in, and you get a real feel for the park. Our tour at Petco was really terrific - a funny, entertaining, informative guide. The Padres sell many $5 standing room tickets - and with that ticket you can go anywhere in the park, eat anywhere. There's an area in right called "the Beach" - basically a giant sandbox for kids to play in while their parents watch the game. And I love how they've incorporated the existing Western Metal Supply Co. building into the Park.

There were huge numbers of Sox fans in town for the series - you couldn't walk down the street without passing them. There is this cool, almost unspoken camaraderie among us - a nod, a "go sox," a fist-bump.

The Friday night game was Retro-80s night - the players all wore uniforms from circa 1984. And they doctored up all the scoreboard photos - quite funny to see Tek with a mohawk! Matsuzaka pitched well, and we won 2-1. And after the game, we hooked up with a bunch of SGers - what a fantastic and fun bunch!

Saturday, we attended a luncheon sponsored by the Madres, a group of (mostly) women who support the Padres and their various charities. The guest speaker was reliever Heath Bell- a really nice young man. The event made me realize how different it is to be a fan in a "small market" city - there are more opportunities to meet the team, to feel more a part of the organization. My only complaint with the Sox - we've gotten so big...

Before the game, we went for a tailgate at the apt. of one of the SGers, NV in SD. It's so fun to meet these folks that I "talk" to nightly during the games. Now, when I read their comments, it's like I can actually hear their voices.

Kelly had gotten us group tickets at the Toyota Level - kind of a different perspective on the park. It was salute to the Negro Leagues night, and Luis Tiant threw out the first pitch. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there - we lost 6-1, Tito got ejected, Mirabelli got roundly booed on his return to SD, and an incredible pitching performance by Chris Young.

So fun day, bad game. But there was still Sunday and the promise of a showdown between Josh Beckett and Jake Peavy! It was a day game, so we got there early. No BP, but we did watch the pitchers stretch. Yum. Peavy was strong, but had a high pitch count. So we got into their bullpen by the 6th - although their pen is so strong, that didn't mean instant victory. But Josh was strong - pitched 8 innings, then Pap came in to close.

After the game, we went out to the players' entrance, and watched the teams load up on buses for the respective road trips. TSA actually comes to the park, and does the pre-boarding check in there - that way, the bus can drive right up to the plane on the tarmac. Some of those boys look mighty fine out of uniform - uh, I mean in civilian clothes! The highlight was Manny climbing in the driver's seat and beeping the horn, threatening to drive away! Hilarious!!

So, the Sox were 4-2 on the trip up to the point - and on to Seattle! And you can see the photographic highlights here!

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