Hello again, Padres fan - first off, let me disclaim that this might get a little graphic heavy, so I apologize in advance to those on perhaps a slower connection.
Anyway, almost a month ago, I visited you folks, asking the locals for some advice on what to do, what to see, best places to eat, etc, to make my brief visit to San Diego a good one. And you all went above and beyond with your suggestions and ideas, that it forced me to simply look forward to visiting San Diego over all the other places on my agenda.
So a week ago, I embarked on a West coast trip out to California to continue on my quest to visit all the Major League Baseball parks. Southern California gave me the opportunity to knock out three parks, but only if planned correctly. So two days prior to my San Diego visit, I saw the Dodgers defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, and then the Angels prevail against the Detroit Tigers in a 12-inning marathon; Yeah, I know the Padres had an 18-inning affair right around the same time, so you folks probably aren't impressed. The game I went to was last Tuesday's series opener with the Washington Nationals.
Firstly, let me say that you folks live in an absolutely gorgeous city. I am completely infatuated with San Diego, and it most certainly left a wonderful impression on me, and I would love to visit the place without even needing baseball. The weather I had endured the two prior evenings were cloudy, unseasonably chilly, but when I arrived in San Diego, the sun came out, the temperature warmed up, and there was nothing more I wanted to do than be outside.
Unfortunately, I was unable to hit up Torrey Pines on my way down from Anaheim; I would have liked to, but time wasn't on my side. I had negotiated some killer tickets with a person via Craigslist, and I had a short window of time to actually complete the transaction, and they were out near Mira Mesa. Anyway, I had gotten quite a bit of beach the days prior, so I was alright, although I'm sure some of you might let me know that I certainly missed out...
After having a seafood lunch at the Fish Market at the harbor, I made my way to the Gaslamp Quarter, which I was looking very much to. I must say that Downtown San Diego is definitely catered to those taking alternative means of transportation; me in my rental, felt like I was in red-light hell, at times.
It's your logo! No, but really, I was enamored with the Gaslamp Quarter - I loved it. All the interesting shops, the restaurants, and just good people watching. And a lot of you were good indication, but I found that all San Diegans I encountered to be extremely friendly, and pleasant.
Love the play on words - yeah, yeah, grow up, or something like that. I'm a tourist, and I found the name and logo of this establishment to be quite amusing. But enough of the touristy things, because I came to San Diego for one priority:
Where as Dodger Stadium has its distinct location on the Chavez Ravine, and Angel Stadium has a gigantic A and halo reaching into the skies, Petco Park was a little harder to find, if I wasn't looking. Wandering through the Gaslamp, and not along Harbor, the buildings nearby obstructed my view. But once I caught a glimpse of the PETCO logo, I knew exactly where to go.
Petco is definitely one of the more modern-looking ballparks, with a sophisticated face, and an even more interesting interior design. All the escalators and interesting paths within, in the areas where the field cannot be seen, it's almost like walking around a convention center or something.
Obligatory field shot. Honestly? I have no gripes about Petco Park - whatsoever. It's easy to navigate, the seats were comfortable, and I enjoyed it immensely, walking around the entire park, and seeing the field from pretty much every possible angle. The weather was windy and no longer warm at this point, so it was a pleasure to just take Petco in.
Former Brave, now reserve OF, Willie Harris. I got there pretty early, but apparently the Padres BP was already over. I briefly said to Harris that "Atlanta missed him" (as formality, I didn't really mean it), and he looked at me, and mouthed the words "me too." Guess someone isn't happy being in Washington...
Nationals interim first baseman, Dmitri Young, signing things for a kid who was wearing all Padres stuff. He's like one of those guilty pleasure players that I root for, because of weird personality quirks or something. I think I became a goof-fan of his when I saw him in Spring Training with a haircut that looked like he did himself with Elmer's glue and a steak knife while wearing a Sanford & Son t-shirt.
The Western Metal Supply Co, seating area. Every time the Braves play in San Diego, I always admire this section. I just think it's really cool, the way they integrated the building into available seating. I find it aesthetically pleasing.
I know it's the convention center on the right, but I don't know what the other taller building is. I took it regardless, because it was, like many other things I saw in San Diego, very pleasing to look at.
This field shot was taken from on top of the Western Metal Supply building. I got there early enough before the private party that was supposed to be some bier garten, and the attendant there allowed me to go to the edge to take some photos. Despite the overall height and distance up, I imagine these are still a great place to watch any games.
Heath Bell signing stuff for fans - Admittedly, I am a fan of Bell's. I became one during the 163rd game last season, where Peavy wasn't quite Peavy, but Bell came in with such intensity and lack of any fear as he went 2+ innings of no-hit ball, capped off with a crowd-silencing strike out of Matt Holliday.
More Heath Bell, this time, being a ham for the, I imagine, the local reporter. When he wasn't pouring water in front of the camera, he was gingerly sprinkling sunflower seeds. And FYI, these were taken from my seats - I was seated three rows right behind the Padres' dugout. Like I said, killer seats.
I've seen a lot of things in my travels, but this definitely is cake-taking worthy. The ceremonial first-pitch thrown by someone with no arms. Impressive, was that he got the ball quite almost the 60'6" distance that I've seen snooty businessmen fail to do on a regular basis.
Randy Wolf pitching. After the first inning, he seemed to settle down, and keep the Padres in the game. With all your detailed game reports, I don't figure you'll need my commentary here. Aaron Boone continued to make people hate him on yet another team, with a big first-inning homer.
Adrian Gonzalez swinging the lumber. Not just saying it because I'm on all your guys' stomping grounds, but I agree with anyone who says that he is terribly underrated. And in an ironic twist, in a game with guys like Vlad Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Torii Hunter, Gary Sheffield, Miguel Cabrera, and Magglio Ordonez, in a more hitter-friendly park, I see no homers. Heck, I saw no RBIs, either. And in the Padres/Nationals game, they hit three combined. Eh, National League baseball is better anyway.
Dmeathook taking his cuts. Admittedly, I was hoping that this game would go at least 13 innings. Call me sadistic, but after being at two extra-inning games the nights prior, i wanted it to be a reoccurring theme. I'm a traveler seeing new places - so extra innings only means one thing to me: MORE BASEBALL.
A night shot of your beautiful park. Pretty at night too.
Another privilege I was treated to was to see Trevor Hoffman's entrance live. It's not quite the same seeing him come out while on the road, because there's no buildup, there's no fanfare, and most importantly, there are no Hell's Bells. I took a video clip on my camera, and I would like to post it, but YouTube got communist on my account, and deleted all of my prior MLB-related clips.
And as you guys might remember, Padres win! Hoffman with the save, and it's the first game I saw end in regulation in three nights. I didn't imagine that the overall attendance was going to be great, for a weeknight against the Nationals, but it was even more paltry than I'm used to in Atlanta's fair-weather market. 18,000? Even Atlanta averages 21,000 in a venue that seats 55,000 on their slowest times... even for the Nationals.
I took this picture on my way out, because Sam Goodys don't exist anymore on the east coast. So to see one at all, let alone one that is all decked out and cool looking, like the Empire Records building was photo-worthy.
And one more shot of the beautiful entrance to the Gaslamp on my way out.
I had two fish tacos at the Rubios at the park, which I must say was quite tasty. Prior to leaving the Gaslamp, I wandered over to a bar called the Yard House, and got to sample the amusingly named Arrogant Bastard Ale. I like the name, but I can't say that I was a big fan of the ale - a little too bitter for my pallet.
I also went to Balboa Park the next day on my way out of San Diego, but I won't consume up more space with more photos, but I did enjoy a lot of the sights there. Also, I took up the suggestions to see the giant thermometer out in Baker, on my way through the desert to Las Vegas, but it perfect timing - I needed to gas up at that time as well.
And on a final note, I leave with a picture of the gigantic burrito I had on my way out. This was from a restaurant called Mestizo Mex Grill, located off of Balboa Avenue just past Qualcomm Stadium. This was larger than any other burrito I've eaten in my life, and I love burritos. After eating a third of this monster, I looked at what was the typical size of burrito I was used to. Needless to say, I didn't even think about food from this, all the way into Las Vegas.
And on that, I hope that this outsider's perspective was enjoyable, as I did enjoy looking back at a good trip while writing this. Once again, I humbly thank all the locals who gave me so many great ideas, suggestions, and general comments. This leg of my travels wouldn't have been as good and enjoyable without all your help. San Diego is genuinely a beautiful place, and you folks also have a wonderful ballpark.