Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ballpark Roadtrip 2018

After seven long, grueling years, THC and LDC reached the end of their quest to see games at all thirty major league ballparks, with our recent visits to Denver Seattle, and San Francisco.  For all of our annual trip reports go here.

Ballparks Visited

Coors Field
Safeco Field
San Francisco
AT&T Park

Game Results
July 3
Rockies 8, Giants 1
July 5
Mariners 4, Angels 1
July 8
Giants 13, Cardinals 8
July 9
Giants 2, Cubs 1
(11 innings)

Winding up our travels with visits to three outstanding ballparks was a treat.  As nice as Coors and Safeco are there is no doubt that AT&T is the best stadium we've seen (excepting, of course, Fenway - hey, THC is a Red Sox fan, what'd you expect?), edging out PNC in Pittsburgh.  We enjoyed AT&T so much we changed our plans and went to a second game there the following day.  Adding to the enjoyment was going to games with two old friends from high school and with the THC Son and his girlfriend.

(Old Friends - MG, LDC, and THC)

AT&T gets the #1 rating by virtue of the views (our right field seats in the upper part of the upper deck featured views of McCovey Cove, San Francisco Bay, the Oakland Bay Bridge, and the SF city skyline), the sight lines to the field (excellent from anywhere we looked in the stadium), and the food which ranks with Petco Field in San Diego (try the tri-tip steak sandwich in the food area behind the center field scoreboard).

The July 3 game at Coors Field featured a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the game which drew a huge crowd (second biggest to the Rogers Centre in Toronto).  We had to wait for a least a half hour after the end of the game as they emptied the bleachers, moving fans onto the field, because the fireworks were launched from the back of the bleachers.  We were close enough to have debris fall on us.

Photos and our annual awards follow.



Seahawks and Mariners stadiums.

Mike Trout hitting a double.

AT&T Park


Best Pitching Performance
Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs made it look easy on July 9 against the Giants, pitching 8 innings of five hit ball, walking nobody and fanning eight.  Very few hard hit balls and a game he should have won 1-0, but for the joint efforts (or non-efforts) of our next award winners.

Best Heads Up Play & Worst Fielding/Lack of Hustle Play
Alen Hanson/Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez.  In the bottom of the 5th, with the Cubs leading 1-0, Pablo Sandoval hit a weak ground ball on which Rizzo made an error catching the throw.  The next batter, Alen (that's really how he spells it) Hanson hit a grounder, forcing Sandoval at second. Hendricks made a pick-off attempt on which Rizzo made an error.  Rizzo and Javier Baez showed a lack of hustle getting to the ball, allowing Hanson, who turned on the jets, to score all the way from first.  Watch the play here.

Best Pitching Performance By "Who Is That Guy?"
Antonio Senzatela was recalled from the minors by the Rockies on July 3, in time to start that night's game.  We had no idea who he was, but he tossed seven innings of three-hit shutout ball.  Unfortunately, Antonio gave up six runs in six innings in his next start.

Most Enjoyable Player to Watch
Pablo (The Panda) Sandoval.  He doesn't look capable of playing the field and falls over a lot but he was very effective at third base.  Pablo also hit a three run homer into McCovey Cove (see next award) on July 8, and the next day had the walk-off game winning single in the 11th inning.  To the chagrin of this Red Sox fan, Panda was more productive in those two games than during his entire Red Sox career (look up "debacle" in the dictionary and you'll find his Sox free-agent contract).

Most Home Runs Into A Water Body
And the winner is McCovey Cove, the inlet behind the right field stands at AT&T Park.   Two balls reached the Cove on July 8, Sandoval's homer and a smash by Matt Carpenter of the Cards.  One was picked out of the water by a kayaker, the other by someone onshore with a fishing net.

Most Exciting Player
Dee Gordon of the Mariners hit a triple and can that guy fly!  He also made a tremendous play at second to stifle an Angels rally.  Watch his catch here.

Best Repeat Performance Arguing Balls & Strikes
Baseball's best player (I'm required to write that) Mike Trout usually doesn't get too excited but he twice got into an argument with the ump on called third strikes.  Trout has a pretty good eye (he leads the AL in walks) so he probably had good reason to be upset.  He lost both arguments.

Best Game To Take Someone To Who's Never Seen A Game Before 
The Giants-Cardinals game which the Giants won 13-8.  Lots of action which gave old-guy THC plenty of opportunity to explain the details of the game to a novice, who kindly pretended to pay attention.

Best Ballpark For A Willie Mays Fan
As my readers know, Willie Mays is my favorite player, so you know the answer.

Best Drive

From south of Portland, Oregon to Petaluma, California (over two days).  We drove through the Willamette Valley and then the mountains and valleys of southern Oregon on I-5 before turning off at Grant's Pass and heading towards Crescent City, the northernmost town on the California coast, where we stayed overnight.  The next day, we took Route 101 along the coast until it turned inland south of Eureka, got off for thirty miles to drive the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park, and then followed 101 to Ukiah and through the wine-growing valley to the south.

The Sunday morning drive the next day on 101, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through San Francisco, and the on I-280 to Palo Alto wasn't too shabby either.

Most Exciting Drive 

LaHonda Road in Woodside, CA.  Several miles of twisting, turning and narrow pavement, with sheer drops along the side, up the mountains to Skyline Drive which runs along the spine of the peninsula south of San Francisco.

Biggest Tree

Best Place To Watch Junkies Shooting Up 

Courtyard Marriott Pioneer Square in Seattle.  Very nice room but it was in rear of hotel, facing an old brick building with broken windows.  Glancing down into the alley below we saw one apparently homeless person doing odd stuff with scraps of something scattered on the pavement and who was soon joined by another person sitting several feet away who was clearly shooting up.  Actually, a lot of downtown Seattle, particularly near the Pike Street Marketplace was occupied by a motley collection of characters and it was pretty grimy.  Like NYC in the 70s although we walked a lot of the city outside the immediate downtown area and it was quite pleasant.

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