Just after the start of the new year, I was phoned by a mysterious number that I was able to trace back to some organization called the San Diego Padres. Paranoid as I am, I let it go to voice mail, but no message was left. A couple days later, the same number called again and I answered, ready to ambush the caller with a comedic telemarketing script. You can usually keep them going for a few minutes, especially with these religious outfits, they're so earnest about the Lord, you see.
Alas, it was someone whose name I cannot recall, and he had a nice spiel about how there had been big changes in the front office and they wanted to let everyone know. He also had noticed how many single game purchases I had made last season and wanted to know if I was interested in saving a little money with a season ticket plan. I was naturally non-committal about the whole thing. Lots of "ums" and "I don't knows" and "maybe laters" later, I was off the phone with the promise that he'd call again. Always leave them wanting more. From there, I thought this story was over, but then, this would be a pretty mundane adventure if it was.
A few days later, I talked to my parents, and they'd received a phone call from what could have been the same stranger, too! But Father was not as evasive as I was, and he had agreed to meet with this mysterious religious stranger at 100 Park Blvd. in San Diego on the sixteenth of January in the year of our Lord, Twenty-Ten, but just to check things out. When this day came, we arrived at the rendezvous point at 1300 hours. We didn't know what to do then, so Father called the stranger back, and he saw us from across the street and they did that thing people do when they see each other while talking on mobile phones. We closed the distance between us and met Chris Deniz, Senior Account Executive and Lead of a brand new sales team assembled a few weeks prior. I checked him for his SD before we proceeded, so I knew he was real. It was there. Before we knew it, we were in an elevator deep within the belly of the ballpark-shaped beast.
Here's Chris with his SD. Chris just got here from the north and he is happy to be down here. Things are apparently awful up there, because a polyarchy has been installed and he had to work for the Sacramento Kings. The capitol is lost, people, we'll have to pick a new one. We rode the elevator to the Terrace Level. I took this picture and he didn't even know. Sorry, if you hate it, Chris, but it happened and it's too late now.
We got to the Terrace Level and walked and talked, heading in the direction of the press box. Father, eager to give away more personal information, mentioned that he was also from the north, and they named towns they each knew so myself, Mother, and Brother could feel excluded. I paused to take this picture of the walkway under construction.
Chris saw this and mentioned that the city was in charge of building it. I'm sure that means it will be done on time, on budget, and everyone will be happy about it.
From there we entered the press box. I took a picture of the field because I missed it so.
It's still there. The third baseline was all torn up, you can't really see that from the picture, though. Chris didn't know why that was. It was at this time I noticed we weren't the only group touring the park. We moved through the press box to their cafeteria where I imagined Corey Brock watching Mark Grant eat. I don't know why. On the way out, I spotted the Petco Park ground rules, kept under glass for freshness and photographic difficulty:
I tried to block out the glare as best I could, but this damn San Diego sunshine, it's like a curse.
We left the press box, into another elevator and arrived in the Sony club for the super-rich, a secret world where impossible things happen at every home game. It smelled like hundred dollar bills burnt for recreation. Chris described what the services were like while I imagined the rare and exotic animals available for consumption. Hidden within the Sony club is a closely-guarded secret. No, the secret was not kept there that day, but I took photographs of the evidence of its presence:
No, the secret is not tables and chairs, it is right through those windows!
Oh, man, is that a pitching machine? I wonder what they...
It looks like... a batting cage? But that can't be! The Padres don't let anyone watch them practice hitting! Anyone but the Sony club members, that is. Imagine sitting here, chowing down on beer-battered mermaid tacos with ambrosia salsa, watching Matt Stairs get ready to come in and belt a late-inning blast. It's almost heaven.
From there we went out to the Sony club seats. Each comes with its own place to stow your top hat and monocle. There are no coat racks, however, because a Victorian gentleman bathes seldomly and as such, it is impolite to take your coat off.
It looks just like the video game.
We walked over into the visitor's dugout, which is pretty small compared to the Padres' dugout.
I took a picture of the spot where Nick Hundley made that sliding play and threw out Eric Byrnes at home.
Then I sat on the visitor's bench and took this photo while I imagined Tim Lincecum sitting in this very spot, no doubt thinking about the next time he could become high:
We walked across the infield over to the home dugout. I snapped this cool picture with intentional glare of the dugout rules:
Someone had put a #1 and "Go Padres" on the wall in tape.
I checked out the phones to see who I could ring and found that they are badly outdated:
From here we talked about the new owner and new GM. Chris said Hoyer looks young, but he's really not. Jeff Moorad is there every day. He also said that the week prior, Moorad thought everyone had done such a good job, he bought them all cookies. I implore you to find something to dislike about that.
We walked up and into the seating sections where I stitched this shot together:
Those people wouldn't leave the ballpark so I could take the shots, so that's why they're there.
Once we'd looked at some seating plans and pricing and heard about some of the new programs they have now, we were whisked away to a sales office. I had to use the restroom, so Chris took me to one near another office. It was at this time I asked him if he'd heard of Gaslamp Ball. He hadn't, and after I offered an awkward explanation, he said he'd check it out. He probably won't, but at least we know that the Padre front office is not abuzz about GLB. We must correct this.
Anyway, Chris' badge looks like this:
Whoever was in charge of relabeling the In House phone was also in charge of getting security badges for 2010. Don't ask how I got this, I'll never tell.
From there I noticed this glass jar on a desk with pins in it.
Chris said I could have some, so I took these two:
Did you notice what I noticed? The two designs being given away are the Friar and the Home Plate (read: non-SD) logo. I'm on to you, Padres!
You can see from the background of the glass jar photo that this office was filled with Padres junk, so I immediately started geeking out SDPads_1-style:
This was the Adrian Gonzalez bobble-head with tangerine lipstick.
Chris let me take one of these Adrian figures home.
Peavy's face looks like Jeff Dunham's redneck doll.
And that was the end of our tour!
We left the ballpark and ate an early dinner at Old Town Mexican Cafe. I had these delicious enchiladas:
One was carne asada, one was pollo asada, and one was shrimp. Every adventure should end with delicious enchiladas.
And sunsets as we headed back up the 5; adventures should also end with sunsets.