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!
Last fall before I went to Alaska, I bought myself a fancy new camera — not a DSLR, but a fancier model than my old point and shoot that fit in my pocket. (It’s a Panasonic DMC-FZ35 if that means anything to you.) It has an 18x zoom and a burst mode. These two features combined mean that it’s excellent for taking pictures at baseball games. Thus, I have literally thousands of pictures from all the games I’ve gone to this year — and this doesn’t even count all the pictures I took with my old camera after the new one was accidentally left back in Minnesota. Most of the pictures are pretty dull and redundant — batters taking pitches or swinging and missing. However, there is the occasional treasure.
And so, as an excuse to blog even though the baseball season is over, here are my 10 favorite pictures from various baseball games I went to this season. (Also, I figured out I can embed slideshows, so this seemed like a good first slideshow.)
Because I didn’t feel like playing hooky for tomorrow’s day game, I opted to go to the second to last regular season game of the year tonight at AT&T Park. And what a night it was… two homeruns, each extraordinary in their own way, Tony Bennett, a home team victory, and two foul balls in the row in front of me. The latter events resulted in me being on TV (again), which I screen grabbed from the archived game on MLB.tv. What makes it really impressive is that we were in the third deck.
That's me in the gray shirt behind two guys who caught foul balls tonight. We're all laughing at the guy in the red plaid shirt because he just tried to "fight" the guy on the left (with his wife) for the ball even though he already had one from two innings earlier.
But most people weren’t at the game to watch the people in front me catch foul balls. They were there to watch the Giants win a game… which they did in spectacular fashion. Madison Bumgarner did much better than he did against the Twins (when he gave up 9 runs in the first) by pitching 7 shutout innings. But it was the Giants offense that really shone. In the 4th inning, Brandon Belt did something I had never seen in person — he hit a two-run splashdown homerun out of AT&T Park and into McCovey Cove, putting the Giants up. And somehow that wasn’t even the most exciting homerun of the game. In the 7th inning, with the Giants already up 5-0 and a runner on first, Conor Gillaspie hit a ball into the odd corner in center field known as Triples Alley. Only he didn’t hit a triple. He rounded third, slipped and fell, picked himself up, kept going, and still beat the throw to the plate for an inside-the-park homerun.
But the biggest celebrity at the ballpark wasn’t a ball player. Tony Bennett, whose voice serenades AT&T Park after every Giants game singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” was in attendance promoting his new Duets II album. There was also a Tony Bennett bobblehead doll giveaway, but I didn’t realize this beforehand and wasn’t even close to early enough to get one. I did, however, get a video of Bennett singing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch… so I will close my regular season baseball going experiences with that.