My father arrived in town Sunday night, though I didn’t get home until almost dawn Monday morning, so I actually didn’t get to see or talk to him until Monday afternoon, just before I did my daily DDR workout. OF course, now that I have my personal dance pad, I just do downstairs to play rather than having to go all the way to the arcade and fish over an admission fee and spend some nickels. However, I do miss some of my favorite songs, so I’m thinking tomorrow I might go over there anyway.
Though his birthday was April 1st, I promised him before his birthday that I would take him to Pacific Bell Park and we’d have an awesome time at the ballpark. Now, a small bit of history about my father and America’s pastime. When I was ten, he took me to my first ballgame at Candlestick Park (I still call it Candlestick, regardless of 3Com’s ownership), and immediately after I was a die-hard fan. I had baseball statistics up the yin-yang, and my dad and I were frequent visitors to both Candlestick and San Jose Muni Stadium, where the Giants’ Class A minor league team plays (San Jose Giants). The cool thing about going to most of the San Jose games were that given a few years, we would see some of these players end up playing for San Francisco. I saw Shawn Estes, Royce Clayton, Juan Guerrero, and even some of the bigger names (back then) like Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell, when they got sent down for rehabilitation training. Even though I’m now twenty-five years old, my dad and I can always relate through a silly little game. In particular, sharing those experiences together enriches our relationship. I love my dad, and I love spending time with him. He lives near the Nevada state border these days, so my time with him lately has been pretty sparse, with me going to school and working. I had planned with him, weeks in advance, that we would go see the Giants play this year. The last time I went to a ballgame with him was April 8, 1999, the home opener of the last year they were at Candlestick Park. I still have the ticket somewhere in one of my unpacked boxes.
So Monday afternoon, I told him we had a couple of options. We could drive up, as we traditionally did, or we could take the train up to the park, and not have to worry about designated drivers or drinking too much. Now, let me explain: I don’t drink all that much. But when I go to a game, I will occasionally partake. Anyway, we decided to go by train this time, because my dad hates traffic. Now that he’s living in a small town near Reno, he tends to hate crowds or traffic or any of the big city stuff. But he’ll brave it for major league baseball, and especially to hang out with me. The train schedule showed that they had about six trains, starting at 4pm, leaving San Jose for San Francisco, so I chose the earliest train. The earliest train got us to Pac Bell Park at 20 minutes to 6pm, which was much faster than the estimate, and it gave us a lot of time to walk around the new park and acquaint ourselves. I brought my grandfather’s blanket with me on this trip. My grandfather (my mother’s father) died back in 1986 to a heart attack brought on by diabetes. He was an avid football fan, and used to take this blanket with him to the ball games at Candlestick Park to watch the San Francisco 49ers, and to the Oakland Coliseum to watch the Oakland Raiders. So, by taking this blanket with me, I was sort of continuing the tradition. Now it has been to all three bay area parks. I’d like to say I think he was there with us, in spirit.
The train ride up was fun. We didn’t have to worry about driving, other cars, traffic… we just kicked back and talked. As we sped through the Peninsula, my dad would occasionally point out places that he had worked. My father is a carpenter, so throughout the years, he’s spent times at various jobs in cities from here to San Francisco. As he would point them out, I would remember some and others I wouldn’t. When I was younger, my dad would pull me out of bed on Saturday mornings to go work with him on jobs. I used to hate that, so I would intentionally join school activities to get out of going with him. I told him this, and he laughed. He said, as long as I was doing something and not being a lazy bum, he didn’t care. By the time we had ended up at 4th and King in SF, we’d already caught up and were ready to enjoy a night of baseball.
As always, it’s important to remember a few things about baseball in San Francisco. Candlestick Park was famous for its chilly nights and sometimes foggy games. In fact, there used to be this fan program that the Giants ran when I was kid called the Croix de Candlestick. It was this little orange hat pin, with the SF logo on it, and the logo had snow cover on it. The motto, Vini Vidi Vici was at the top. They handed these out at the Giants Dugout stores all over the bay area for people who had stayed for extra inning night games. They were badges of honor. I had four of them, all from the same year, 1989. Tonight was a qualifying night for that pin, though they no longer run that program. Eleven innings of play, and the outcome was rather anti-climatic, although they did win. It was a rather dramatic game, between the Giants and the Braves, almost every other inning, one team would advance a little, and the opposing team would catch up to tie it up. The Braves were up two runs by the bottom of the second, but the Giants, led by a Bonds homer in the bottom of the third put San Francisco up by two runs with the score of 4-2. Then the Braves scored one run in the top of the fourth, and another run in the top of the fifth. So once again, it tied up. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, the Giants sprang back to life and scored two runs. Now, if you’re a Giants fan like I am, you know that when the manager Dusty Baker pulls Robb Nen, his star closer, from the bullpen to save the game, you’re in for some superior pitching. Not so, tonight, unfortunately. Nen sucked ass. He was throwing crap over the plate and the Braves tied it up in the top of the ninth making it a 6 run game. After that, it was simply down to a big nail biter. The tenth inning was pretty uneventful, and then in the bottom of the eleventh, the most embarrassing thing happened: Ramon Martinez singled, then Rich Aurillia got on with a ground rule double. As usual, they intentionally walked Bonds. This loads the bases, okay? Kent comes up and what do they do? THEY WALK HIM. Martinez scores, game over, Giants win. But what an anti-climatic win for such a good game! The Braves should hang their head in shame for putting up such a good fight and then blowing it apart like that. Ah, well… I’m sure they’ll pull something out of their asses for the rest of the series here at home.
During the top the ninth inning, we had something of a little earthquake. Apparently, it was centered around the Gilroy area (which is about 5 miles south of San Jose), but up at Pac Bell, I felt it. Felt like the whole upper level was just swaying back and forth. At first, I just though I was sort of shivering, but then everyone else started asking, “Did you just feel an earthquake?” I just sort of said, “Is that what that was? Okay, yeah, I guess I did.” Granted, we were some sixty miles north of the epicenter and it was only a 5.2 on the Richter scale, but us Californians were pretty surprised to read some of the news reports. We weren’t scared and people didn’t overreact. This is fucking California. We live with earthquakes, so stop making it sound like we all dropped a load of shit in our shorts. We usually don’t get out of bed for anything less than a 6.0 these days, especially after the 7.2 that rocked us all back in ’89. For the transplants, they probably get all jittery after feeling a 5.2, but I couldn’t give much of a rat’s ass about it. I got home, I checked my room. It’s relatively undisturbed, so all’s good.
Now the huge inconvenience of the night goes to our wonderful friends over at Caltrain. Due to the earthquake, they restricted the speed of the return trip home once we passed the Redwood City stop. The train was at an amazing… TWENTY MILES AN HOUR. Oh my God. I could’ve ridden a bike faster than this train. They wanted to make sure there was no rail damage, and I guess going slower than fucking dirt will give them enough notice to bring the train to a safe enough stop. I was praying that they would find damage, because then they would arrange for buses, and at least the buses would use the freeway and go 65mph. The 1.5 hour train ride turned into 3 hours. My dad fell asleep and I was wide awake the entire time, with nothing to do but look out of the tinted windows at my own damn reflection. I really need a haircut, by the way.