A few months ago, I bought tickets to today’s Giants-A’s Battle of the Bay (ugh, I still don’t like interleague) primarily because of the giveaway: a Brian Wilson gnome. If the only Brian Wilson you know is the lead singer of the Beach Boys, watch this and then you might begin to understand. But I don’t think anyone fully understands the madness of the beard.
What I really misunderstood was the demand a Brian Wilson gnome would bring. Now, I should have been tipped off when, pre-season, the only tickets I could get for the game were way up in the third deck behind left field — not exactly prime seats. But this morning, knowing that the gates opened at 11 AM, I figured that leaving my apartment at 10:45 would be no problem.
Here’s the thing: my apartment is only a few blocks from AT&T Park. To get to the end of the line that had formed, I had to go the opposite direction of the park from my apartment to just under the Bay Bridge. Google maps tells me that it was a line of about 2/3 of a mile. Some of the people I talked to had been there since 7 am. Eek! I was pretty sure I wasn’t getting a gnome.
But I was wrong! After getting to the end of the line, it shortly started moving forward. I kept waiting for a message to get passed back that they were out of gnomes… but none ever came, and when I got to the ticket gate, the agent handed me my very own box of gnome. Would you like one? They’re going for $60-$75 on Ebay.
Oh, and then there was a game. It was a pretty exciting game and I decided (again) that I am an American League gal at heart and rooted for the A’s. Which was good, because the A’s won and I was wearing a Kurt Suzuki jersey.
A friend is visiting this week from DC, and thus I’ve been able to be a San Francisco tourist again. Last night, I was finally able to check off the last of the major SF tourism things that I’ve always wanted to do: an Alcatraz night tour. While it hasn’t been a working prison since 1963, this is the closest I hope to ever get to spending a night in jail.
One of the advantages of the night tour is that they open areas of the prison that aren’t open to the day tour folks, like the hospital upstairs. There you can see the room where Robert “Bird Man of Alcatraz” Stroud spent 11 months. (Fun fact: He didn’t have birds at Alcatraz, only at his previous stint at Leavenworth.) It sounds like if you take on of the day tours, you spend more time exploring the island itself as less of the prison is open. While checking out all of the birds that roost on Alcatraz Island might be fun (they roost there because there are no predators), if I had been on a day tour, I would have missed the other highlight of the night tour: the demonstration of the prison cell doors. I took some video, but unless you have a good subwoofer hooked up to your computer, you’re probably not going to get the thunderous vibrations that rumble through every time the doors are opened and closed. Alcatraz was probably not a good place for prisoners with PTSD.
Of course, everyone knows that Alcatraz was a prison and then became a National Park. What I was surprised to learn (and quite frankly, disappointed in myself that I didn’t already know) was that from November of 1969 to June of 1971, Alcatraz was occupied by a pan-tribal group of American Indians as a protest against the proposed Termination Act, which would give the US government the power to dissolve reservations and relocate tribal members across the US. Nixon, dealing with the fallout of Kent State and other protests of the time, decided to let them stay. For nearly two years, they lived on the island, receiving food and supplies from donors. Some of their graffiti is still visible, which you can see in one of my pictures below. After an unknown arsonist burned down a number of the buildings, including the warden’s house, things started to become unstable and the occupation ended soon after. But the Termination Act was dropped and the occupation is seen as one of the first pan-tribal movements of the 70s which led to a number of improved laws for Native Americans.
I volunteered to help run a curling clinic this afternoon, and because I was on that side of the Bay anyway, when it was over I headed over to O.co Coliseum (possibly the most terrible stadium name ever) to catch the second home game of the Oakland A’s season… because in Oakland, the seats are always cheap and plentiful. (Today: $10 from a scalper for tickets that are $16 face.)
And why are A’s tickets so cheap? Well, because they tend to trade away players once they start to get expensive (see awesome jersey for Player To Be Named Later I spotted while leaving the game) and because the team’s not that good. Which they mostly proved by going down 7-0 after the top of the 4th inning.
But then, a funny thing happened… those scrappy little Moneyball players started to crawl their way back. First with a manufactured sac fly run in the bottom of the 4th and then a solo shot from Jemile Weeks in the bottom of the 5th. (Weeks is really fun to watch by the way… some big pocketed team will probably snatch him up in a few years, sadly.) Then they scored two in the 6th off a Kurt Suzuki double that nearly cleared the wall in left and got every one cheering, but they were still down 8-4. In the 7th Yoenis Cespedes launched a three run bomb to deep center to bring the A’s within one and the crowd — all half-dozen or so that were left — went nuts. I briefly thought about how amazing it would be if the A’s could actually come back and win…
… but they didn’t. Of course they didn’t. The only remaining highlight after the Cespedes homerun was the bunch of balloons that first floated out of the stadium at the end of the 7th and then apparently lost buoyancy as they came back into view in the 9th. They floated around awhile, nearly landing in center field prompting an usher to run out and jump in the air manically trying to grab them. Eventually they floated over to the left field seats where another usher retrieved them. And so ended the balloon drama… and more or less the game.
And so it begins…
Okay, not actually the regular season yet, but the pre-season Bay Bridge Exhibition series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics got me out to the ballpark for the first time this year. I wasn’t sure if I was rooting for the A’s or the Giants, but I wore an A’s jersey that was a free giveaway from last season, and I’m kind of an American League gal, so if forced, I guess I was leaning A’s. On other hand, I actually live in San Francisco so…
Keeping score at a spring training game in a National League (i.e. no DH) park is quite a challenge. I utilized my new-ish smart phone more than once to keep track of all the crazy substitutions. I also used it to tweet in the middle of the game… yeah, I’m kind of ashamed of myself.
The game itself was pretty exciting. Madison Bumgarner was much more solid than the last time I saw him pitch for the Giants when he gave up 8 straight hits to the Twins to start the game. However, in the third he gave up a single to Jemile Weeks, followed immediately by a homerun to Eric Sogard to put the A’s up 2-0. Sogard was an early substitute for Cliff “ought to play cricket” Pennington. Quick show, Pennington! (That’s for you, you-know-who-you-are.)
It looked for awhile like the underdog A’s might pull it off against the much more beloved Giants, but then Jordan Norberto gave up a solo homerun to Melky Cabrera in the 6th to bring the Giants within one. A disastrous outing by Fautino DeLosSantos in the seventh led to three Giants runs on one hit: a walk to Ryan Theriot, a hit-by-pitch to Nate Schierholtz, an error by Josh Donaldson at third that allowed Theriot to score, a fielders choice by Angel Pagan that scored Schierholtz, and finally a solid single by Melky Cabrera to score Emmanuel Burriss.
Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson came out in the 9th with three quick strikeouts to get the save and end the game. Within about five minutes, seagulls descended out of nowhere onto the stands, eating all the leftover food and beer. I have no idea where they came from or why they didn’t show up earlier. I took a bunch of pictures, including one of the seagulls… they’re all below. Baseball — it’s back!
This past week I have twice taken advantage of the fact that I live very near the Pacific coast. Saturday I went hiking in Point Reyes on what turned out to be a cloudy morning and today, in much better weather, I helped chaperone a field trip organized by my teacher friend Amber to take her students tidepooling at Half Moon Bay.
For the coastally challenged, “tidepooling” essentially means walking along the coast during low tide and looking at all the lifeforms that are underwater during high tide. For Amber’s students, they had to take a two foot square of the tide pools and record all the lifeforms they saw, including sea stars, anemones, urchins, mussels, algae, and barnacles. Because this beach is not a protected area, the students’ data is actually used (along with data collected from lots of field trips) to determine if it should be protected in the future.
I think it’s awesome that the kids get this opportunity. Growing up in the middle of the country, a field trip to the ocean wasn’t ever on the radar for me. Before we left, some of the kids were actually complaining about having to go — one even remarked that she thought a trip to the science museum would be more fun. Science museums are great, but I’d rather see marine biology in its actual native habitat over a science museum aquarium. At the end of the trip, I caught up with the same student and she agreed that the beach was pretty cool and much more fun than she expected.
As I often do, I toted along the camera and took a bunch of pictures…
Since the snow isn’t coming to me, I decided this past weekend to go to the snow. Lake Tahoe got it’s first snow last Friday and the forecast called for more over the weekend, so I booked a cheap room on Expedia and got in the car and headed east. After walking around town Saturday just being pleased to be around snow, Sunday morning I woke up and remembered the downsides when I had to scrape two inches of the white stuff off my car. But it was worth it.
I spent most of Sunday hiking around Fallen Leaf Lake, which is less developed than Lake Tahoe itself. I found some waterfalls, kind of by accident — sometimes taking a wrong turn is actually taking the right turn. Later I walked across a dam and discovered hundreds of salmon just sitting in a pool. I knew from reading James Michener’s Alaska that salmon will always return to the pond where they were born to spawn the next generation. It seemed these guys were trying to get into the lake, but had run into the dam and didn’t know what to do next. A local resident came by and we started chatting. She explained that they had installed “fish ladders,” but that it appeared the salmon didn’t know how to use them. I hope they figure it out…
Once again, using the slideshow feature, here are a sample of pictures I took from the weekend.
At about 5:36 AM this morning, I was awoken by another small earthquake (3.6). The bed shook back and forth a bit and my dream was disrupted by a sensation that I was falling. But the best part was that I was positioned just so on my side so that when I opened my eyes, I saw the silhouettes of the bobbleheads bouncing up and down in the dark. It was an appropriately creepy image, given that Halloween is coming up.
(Oh, and speaking of Halloween, I’m laming out this year and just repeating last year’s costume. Pippi Longstocking rides again!)