In my (short) lifetime I've been to two ballparks that weren't meant for little league: Coors Field and the wonderful Petco Park. Never a college field like Fowler Park, never a Spring Training field like the Peoria Sports Complex, never even a high school field (editor's note: he goes on one everyday, he just never realized it). So when I got permission to go to a minor league game while we were in Vegas, I was ecstatic. On the mound for the local 51s was Rafael Montero, the third best Mets prospect according to Minorleagueball's John Sickle, against Mike Kickham, a Giants prospect who gave four runs in one inning against the Padres last September.
Getting to my seat was a different experience than what I go through at Petco, where I follow the signs and climb up the never-ending ramp to get to the upper level, then follow even more signs in order to get to my seat. Here there was a ramp then I was in the only level, where I had to find my seats without help while maneuvering through the long beer lines in the narrow concourses of the stadium.
There was a reason for the long beer lines other than beer being great (at least I'm told it's great). It was $1 beer night - something I could never imagine happening at Petco, where the food costs more than the ticket. In this game, those Hebrew National hot dogs that cost $7 at Petco were $4 and they even forgot to charge me for my drink, but I came back and paid in order to get some good karma.
As a Padres fan, prospects are a huge part of the fandom. The constant waiting for our top prospects to come up and carry us to the playoffs is just a part of life, and that's why I wanted to go see the Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard on the mound, but sadly I couldn't go on the day when he was pitching.
I mention that I didn't get to see Syndergaard on the mound while I was there, but that doesn't mean I didn't get to see him on field. The team's official scorekeeper, who sat next to me while keeping score on his iPad, explained to me that the 51s don't have a first base coach so they have various players act as coach, and that night was Syndergaard's turn.
The biggest difference in the stadium, though, was the jumbotron and sound system. The sound system kept cutting off during PA announcements, and when it didn't cut off you could barely hear what was said (it made the Petco Park system from last year sound good). The jumbotron was the same size as the old PatP screen, and with a worse quality screen.
The sound system combined with the jumbotron to create one funny moment during the 7th inning stretch. The jumbotron, which was showing the singers with the lyrics to "Take me out to the ball game" on the screen, but the sound system wasn't working. When the sound system finally turned on, the singers were multiple lines ahead of the lyrics, which suddenly started speeding up to try and catch up to the singers (it didn't catch up).
Overall the experience of going to a minor league game was very fun, despite it not being a Padres affiliate. I'd love to get the opportunity to go see Renfroe, Ross, and Fried in Lake Elsinore at some point this season, but for the near future I only have the Padres scheduled.