Tuesday, May 20, 2014

8 Down, 22 to go

One of the items on my bucket list is to watch a game in all 30 active MLB stadiums. So far, I have done 8 of them (DC, Baltimore, New York Mets, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago Cubs and most recently Oakland).

I went out to Oakland on May 9th. I couldn't sleep the night before (combination of a night class and being excited for the trip). Flight was uneventful but late. It was delayed a little bit because they were voluntarily bumping people. United was giving people $500 in vouchers for people that wanted to be bumped so if I wasn't meeting a friend, I would've been all over that. I could've used that to finance a trip to Seattle or another stadium next year.

Once I landed in San Francisco, I headed straight to the BART Station to get to O.Co Coliseum ASAP because my friend Kevin was waiting. If you know the system, BART isn't hard to use, but for newbies it is. Maps are not widely available in the stations, I really didn't find the trains or stations well labeled and everything runs on the same line. I got lost twice going the stadium. On the plus side, I did hear multiple announcements that every single elevator and escalator was working in their system (This is something DC's Metro will NEVER be able to claim).

I got to the Coliseum with plenty of time before first pitch, and met up with Kevin. We were splitting a hotel room nearby but we decided just to go to the game since it was closer. Once inside, we met up with Liza and Taylor; some twitter friends who are die-hard Oakland Athletics fans. We hung out and talked by the Nats bullpen, since Liza is a Gio Gonzalez fan. We were able to get his autograph, as well as Jerry Blevins. The game didn't go as well though. This was Doug Fister's first start all year, so he got hit pretty hard. I was impressed that he did not walk anybody though. 

We had really awesome seats, Mike Rizzo, the General Manager of the Nationals sat 1 section over from us. I was able to get his autograph as well. I came fairly close to getting an Anthony Rendon foul ball but the guy behind me got it. Ushers were very strict considering the stadium was halfway full. They gave 1 guy a hard time because he was in the correct section and row, but not the right seat (in a mostly empty row). Met a woman from Germantown that was out here for a conference. (I never say I'm from DC when I go on trips because I've never actually lived in the city and I don't wanna be called out if I actually meet someone from there). She didn't believe I traveled from the East Coast just for the game until I mentioned I was from Germantown. After the game, Kevin and I tried to go to In-N-Out burger but they don't serve walk ins after 1030. We ended up just going to the Jack-In-The-Box and the beer store across from our hotel.

The next day, we went to Lightning Tavern for brunch. I had a Living Social deal for them, and bottomless mimosas are always good. The breakfast burrito I had was definitely in the top 3 (Ely's Pancake House and Deluca's are 1&2) and loved that the mimosas were 90% champagne and 10% orange juice. After the meal, we went to Bullit. 

We had 40s there (9 bucks but they come with condoms so I feel that it's worth it. I think I had a couple of beers there but I don't really remember). After Bullit, Kevin and I went to the Mission Area of San Francisco for the Kink.com porn tour.

This was probably the best non-baseball part of the trip. For those of you not in the know in the porn world, in 2006 Kink.com purchased the San Francisco Armory, which is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Our tour guide was a guy named Dane, who actually does porn for Kink.com. We saw the props, some of the room sets and even learned some history. Star Wars shot some of its scenes here. Technically, I was on a porn site, because the lounge upstairs has cameras streaming for their site. I even got some DVDs and a shot glass to remember my visit, Dane cut me a deal and only charged me for 1 DVD.

Tour ended around 4:30 and since the game started at 6, Kevin and I went right around the corner to Taqueria La Cumbre. They were on Man vs Food (that's pretty much how I choose where I eat when I travel, do I have an internet deal for you or were you on TV). La Cumbre is supposedly the first place to make Mission Style burritos (overstuffed like Chipotle). We took ours to go. I wish I took a picture because my carnitas burrito was as big as my forearm.

For game 2, we sat with Liza in the right field bleachers. I talked to a Nats fan living in San Francisco, and she said that we would get eaten alive up there but it was fine. I guess it helps when you're friends with one of the bleacher crew, happen to be a 5'10" 300+ lb male wearing a bacon hat and have a 6' 7" 230+  male with you. This was a heart breaker. First time I'd ever seen an opponent walk off. Rafael Soriano gets a lot of the blame for blowing the save, but I am more mad at Danny Espinosa's 2 base error that chased Tanner Roark from the game with only 95 pitches in 7.2 innings. Also, bringing in Tyler Clippard (one of your best relievers) for 1 out was kind of questionable. I would've let him pitch the 9th unless he got into any trouble. Being that it was firework night, and it was still very light out after 9 innings, it was probably good that this game went into extra innings. Fireworks were actually kind of fun to watch. They were set to the music of Journey. I kind of want to go to the next firework night, it will be set to the music of Super Mario Brothers, but I don't have $ to fly to Oakland just for baseball (again). After the game, I went back to the hotel and crashed because of a long day of  jet-lag/shower beers/bottomless mimosas and 40s.

Sunday, Kevin and I finally went to In-N-Out Burger. I had a 4X4 animal style with animal style fries. Loved the burger, fries were meh. These fries were made fresh, and I don't think my body is used to that so I did not appreciate it. After food, we went to Wal-Mart to buy beer (classy I know). I figure I'm probably never going to have the opportunity to buy beer at Wal-Mart ever again, I might as well. We went to the game, sat in Right Field with Liza again. I'd like to forget this game ever happened but I loved how the fans chanted "Werth You Suck" at Jayson Werth (only because he was playing RF and not because of his actual abilities) but Jayson seemed to be into it.

After the game, Kevin and I ventured into San Francisco to eat at King of Noodles (I had an Amazon.com coupon for it and it had been on Anthony Bourdain's The Layover). I had dumplings and soup. Usually that's just an appetizer for me, but these soups are LARGE. 

I couldn't even finish it. The dumplings were good too. And prices were great. With the Amazon deal, our bill was $5 for 2 beers, 2 soups and 24 dumplings. Afterwards,we barhopped and then returned to our hotel to pack for our early morning flights.

Overall, Oakland/San Francisco was fun. O.Co Coliseum gets a lot of criticism for being a dump, but I didn't think it was that bad. The seats seamed to be new and in working order (something that could not be said for RFK). The tarping of  most of the upper deck gave it more of an intimate feel (which could be good or bad) but if the stadium is a sellout (like it was Saturday), they should untarp and sell those seats. My major criticism was that you could hardly see the field from the concourse. The Coliseum is built for you to sit in your seat and watch football/baseball. I regret not eating much of the stadium food. I had a novelty sized corndog on Friday but I heard their barbecue is pretty good.

Not sure what my next new stadium will be. I will be in Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks but I had been there already. Most likely my next one will be Yankees, Tampa Bay, Houston or Atlanta.

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