Perhaps our scorecards tell the most lucid stories from the weekend meet-up among three SouthSideSox'ers in the blazing California sun. I wrote down plenty of my own notes and quotes, but hardly recognize the handwriting on my Saturday scorecard that scribed, "Sox raped by A's with unlubricated shards of bat." That aptly summarizes everything game-related after Buehrle left the mound Friday night; after his complete game and another memorable Buehrle birthday for me.
After a long ride on the BART that included a delay due to earthquake (something I was desperately attempting to not interpret as foreboding), I made it to downtown San Francisco and found Toonderstrook at the stunning courthouse. We had a beer and burger near the BART and then got on the train to Oakland, where we met thatshortkid in his black Pierzynski jersey, fresh off his own train from Berkeley.
When we first walked up to the canine-infested Coliseum on Friday (it was their Dog Day), the security guy immediately turned me around and shoved me against the table and pretended like he was going to frisk me. I could only think of one enthusiastic response to his blatant and uncharacteristic (at least for the security I'm used to) harassment: "Welcome to Oakland!"
More antagonizing ensued over the liquid in my water bottle, which the guy never bothered to open and actually check, and the scruffy nature of us visiting fans (ahem, Toonder). I was surprised at how laidback (albeit jokingly harassing) security was there.
Up until this point, Toonder kept secret the location of our seats, only instructing me to bring binoculars. We passed the concrete concourse, walked in and down the stairs to the seats on the 100-level, and it became clearer with every step that I was about to sit in the best seats I've had in 10 years. 2nd row above the A's dugout - perfectly aligned with 3rd base.
Taking it all in was something special. Beholding a new ballpark for the first time - or even seeing the same old one - never fails to give me goosebumps. I imagine many of you know exactly what I'm talking about. The circumstances made it all the more significant for me and I couldn't help but well up with overwhelming gratitude for the gift of these seats, the safe journeys we had getting there, and the strange yet familiar people with me to share in the experience. As I told tsk on the way to our seats, I was verklempt.
I was mostly taking pictures of dogs, and despite us noticing the Sox family going by and mentioning it to one another, I had no idea this young Sox fan was saying hello until I saw the picture after I got home.
As you have probably heard, The Coliseum is not the most pleasant of parks. It is ugly from the outside, unless you take great aesthetic pleasure in concrete slabs.
Lest I forget the mysterious substance on tsk's seat. (not photographed)
The park's vendors were a bit on the unfriendly side. For example, scorecards were not available to purchase separately from the program. $5 got you a program; and do NOT ask for clarity on the topic, else you'll be subject to a genuinely vicious encounter with the guy at the program stand. I kindly approached him on Saturday, merely asking if I could buy the scorecard separately, and he snapped.
"Go back to San Francisco, go get your scorecard there!"
"I'm not actually from there, I -"
"Yeah, I see your loyalties, I don't want to hear about it. Get out of here."
"Ok then, I was just askin - "
"Go away. You don't need a scorecard. Go watch the game, get out of here."
As I walked away, I could still hear him rambling on about where I could go, so long as it wasn't in his line of sight anymore. Not that I knew exactly what that was, since one of his icy blue eyes sat still in its socket while the other one roamed independently, evaluating my disgusting loyalties. Following this exchange, I laughed my way back to my seat while considering that a guy like that could probably make someone cry at Safeco.
I can't comment on the quality of game-viewing from other levels of the park or the outfield sections, since Toonder was kind enough to get us tickets between the dugouts in the 100-level all three games. But from what Toonder described, the park does not offer stunning views if you stray too far from the field. I know tsk will second the praise for Toonder for the work he did in getting our three tickets for each game. His years of following Phish, the esteemed piece of hippie lawyer shit that he is, seemed to translate into an overall ticket-getting savvy that your average joe does not possess...our seats exceeded every and any expectations I had, and he got them on the cheap.
After Buehrle's complete game, we BARTed back to a chilly San Francisco, where Toonder took us to a Mexican restaurant that I have daydreamt about every day since, Pancho Villa. One of my biggest takeaways from this trip, was the dire need to return to SF when there is no baseball, to enjoy the variety of amazing cuisine and people-watching that the city offers. Magnificent city, grandiose bridges and scenery and a variety of characters abound.
You're reading the speed gun correctly - 200 MPH on MB's last pitch. Not nearly as good as the 800 MPH pitch photographed here. Dramatically followed by his 8 MPH fastball.
Below is a pic from our seats for Saturday's ridiculous and embarrassing Sweaty Freddy start that lasted all of 1.1 innings (we could only imagine he was hitting the California Kush too hard). Freddy's mound-crapping wasn't anything we didn't anticipate. We were sun-and-beer-soaked from hours of terrible Sox baseball, and made our way to the most satisfying Chicago pizza I've had on the West Coast (Patxi's), which completely healed the pain of the 10-2 loss. Now I won't pretend that the game wasn't brutal, but I was still more than thrilled to be sitting at a ballpark drinking brews with good people in the sun all day. Can't beat that with a 2x4.
Longest 1.1 innings of my life.
Day 3 was another ugly showing for the Sox, but particularly grand for us because Toonder's parking pass allowed us to tailgate with quality beer for hours before the game - the proper way to approach a Sox game! A couple of Sox fans found and joined our tailgate, which was especially great for me because they brought gloves and a ball, and I had the privilege of playing a sunshiny game of catch in the parking lot.
As a former badass shortstop, a game of catch is easily one of my favorite things in the world. I carry my glove with me in Seattle and invite myself into people's games of catch at the park. Getting older (not wu-old yet, but older) I find it harder to come by friends who have leather and want to throw it, so this random and frequent approaching of strangers has allowed me to fulfill my love of catch on a regular basis. My Sunday afternoon in Oakland was made all the better for this surprise toss, so big hat-tip to the Sox fans at the tailgate, Chas and Tim, passionate lovers of White Sox Baseball living on the West Coast.
Sunday was also the day I sought out Coop, whom I found chilling before the game in the shady visitor's bullpen. We chatted for a few minutes, he wished me a Happy Birthday and gave me a fist-bump for the special Buehrle performance. Castro also came over and lurked during our conversation. I thanked him for the offense on Saturday.
There was a Sox fan a couple rows over from us celebrating his 21st birthday at the game on Sunday, as was indicated on a sign he made for the occasion. thatshortkid and Toonder bought the guy a beer and brought it over to him at his seat, only to find out he was the designated driver that night. So his girlfriend took the beer on his behalf. What kind of crap is that?!
And then the Sox lost again, but kept it interesting enough in Hudson's last start as a White Sox. Another hour or two of tailgating in the parking lot after the game (just tsk and me still drinking beers, Toonder was a responsible driver who took us each to our respective airports after the game) and nary a security guard at the Coliseum hassling us to leave. Again, relatively not uptight with the security there.
(The last parenthetical observation is partly meant for my dad. And yes, I brought a sweatshirt Friday night and kept my wits about me and had fun.)
Had we known, we could've poured some out for Hudson.
Chalk this up to another successful SSS mini-meth-up, the West Coast Edition. Outstanding and kind people to share in some games at a new ballpark, some cold (and some not so cold) beers and a few dozen laughs in a unique city. Real bloggers, live in action, leaving their basements unattended for the weekend and traveling across 2,500 miles of the Pacific Ocean, to get sunburned while the A's raped the Sox with unlubricated shards of bat.
And arriving in San Francisco (I'm a sucker for plane shots). America!
I know, there are some disgusting pen marks on these scorecards, for shame.
Don't bother Q with pre-game tributes.