Monday, June 22, 2009
10 Thoughts: The PETCO Park Weekend
Ten things I learned while attending all three games of the Padres vs. A's series here in San Diego…
The A's should seriously considering moving their franchise to San Diego. I kid, I kid…but, for one weekend, it was the much-maligned A's fans who took over another team's ballpark instead of the other way around. Twenty years ago, the A's were baseball's most popular (and reviled) squad. Their road games often split crowds 50/50. I'm not sure where this weekend's green and gold horde came from (I never see anyone in A's gear 'round these parts, save for me and my son) but, for three days it felt like 1989 all over again. Canseco, McGwire…whatever happened to those guys?
Padres' fans could give Dodgers' fans a run for their money. During Friday night's game, I heard these three sentences from the stands: (1) In response to one of the many vendors walking up and down the aisle hawking his wares, an older guy asks: "How many times is he going to say 'peanuts…Cracker Jack' during the game?! This is ridiculous!" (2) From the same guy to an obviously embarrassed teenager (his grandson?) in his party: "Did you know [Tony Gwynn Jr's] dad played for the Padres, too?" (3) Finally, from the woman seated next to my son, who asked her why she called Padres' 2B David Eckstein "Sparky": "Because he's a little spark plug! He ignites the team!" My son then turned his attention back to the field and shouted "Strike 'Sparky' out!"
I found the ONE thing that can make me leave an A's game early. My son Jalen was insanely excited about this past weekend. It was just the two of us on Friday night and despite his usual 8:00 PM bedtime, Jalen fought off the sandman for as long as he could. Unfortunately, the A's turn EVERY game they play into a three-and-a-half hour station-to-station snoozefest. In the fifth inning, Jalen nodded off for a moment, before waking up with a glazed look in his eyes. And, then it happened. Despite showing NO overt signs of illness all day, Jalen proceeded to unleash an EPIC vomit e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. The ridiculously greasy pizza he ate earlier in the evening, his lunch, his breakfast… And, 90% of it landed on, around and in the purse of the woman in front of him who'd left her bag under her seat. Yep, Jalen…time to go.
My ethnicity has a price tag. Saturday's game featured a promotional bit of pandering as it was "Salute to the Negro Leagues Night". The Padres gave away "Negro League Heritage" caps to all fans in attendance. I'm one of those fans who would never wear the colors or logo of a team that I don't root for. I suppose I could just politely decline the free swag at the gate…or I could hope that someone at the game wants to buy the caps from me. I hadn't been seated for five minutes when I was offered $10 for all three. Sold! Should it matter that it was a white guy who bought them? Had I sold out my heritage for beer money? Meh.
Jalen has inherited his daddy's way with the white women. M'man Smitty brought his wife and daughter down from LA to watch the game with my family on Saturday night. The original seating plan was for the men and women to be divided along gender lines. Early on, however, Jalen asked if he could sit "next to mommy". Before I knew it, he'd wedged his way into the seat next to Smitty's nine-year-old daughter and forced everyone else to move down one seat. When he wasn't "resting" with his head buried in the lap of Smitty's wife, he was showing Smitty's daughter how far he could stick his finger up his nose before putting it in his mouth. In his defense, that IS how I landed Mrs. Bootleg.
Women know. They just…know. After Saturday night's game, Mrs. Bootleg and the boy were fast asleep while I navigated the streets of downtown San Diego. While waiting at a red light, I silently and respectfully admired some of the scantily-clad molten hotness milling about outside a random club. I was interrupted when Mrs. Bootleg woke up and dropped my full name in admonishment of my wandering eye.
Proud parenting moments can be quite unexpected. As Mrs. Bootleg has discovered over the years, watching an A's game with me can be quite the assault on the eardrums. Much to my wife's chagrin, Jalen has adopted many of my in-game cheers and complaints. On Sunday afternoon, he had our section in stitches with an unprompted "KENNEDY~!" immediately after A's 2B Adam Kennedy's name was announced over the PA system. [TBG Note: I know that most of you won't get that, but trust me, it's funny.] Later, he shouted out "You're KILLING me, Dallas!" after A's starter Dallas Braden gave up a long home run. Not sure we're going to be topping this Father's Day anytime soon.
72 degrees isn't always 72 degrees. We had seats right next to the A's dugout on Sunday. After a mostly overcast month, San Diego was blessed with a cloudless sky for the finale of the three game series. Maybe it was the body heat of 28,000 fans in such close proximity…maybe it was the $6.75 chili-cheese nachos blanketed with two layers of jalapeños…maybe my enormous forehead/receding hairline really is a human solar panel. Whatever the reason, it felt a lot hotter than 72 degrees. Jalen had melted into a little brown pool of goo by the fifth inning.
Ice cream sandwiches can bring the dead back to life. Remember the scene in Terminator 2 where Robert Patrick is frozen, shattered and then slowly melts before coming back together? Same thing happened with my son after he inhaled a chocolate-chip cookie ice cream sandwich around the sixth inning. On a related note, I'd like to ask why this specific frozen treat isn't sold at ONE stadium concession stand. It'd be nice if my whining child didn't have to wait for the ice cream vendor's one and only mid-game visit.
Three straight baseball games might be a wee bit too much for a five-year-old.