Saturday, July 14, 2012

San Francisco-Oakland Trip Report

This week I will be recapping the trip that my dad and I took to San Francisco and Oakland back in early June to see the Rangers play the A’s and Giants.

Wednesday, June 6th:

Our flight into San Francisco wasn’t until the early afternoon and went pretty smoothly, with only a short delay. Once we landed, my dad, along with one of his co-workers and his son (it was a work trip for my dad that I went along on), and I made the drive to Oakland via the Bay Bridge and went straight to the Oakland Coliseum, about two and a half hours before the Rangers-A’s game was going to start.

Both the stadium and the game we saw were bad. Colby Lewis had a very good outing but the Rangers couldn’t hit Bartolo Colon, and it ended up in a 2-0 Rangers loss. The A’s ballpark is very ugly, which is to be expected from a multi-purpose facility. It is very old and is probably the worst in baseball. The only things it has going for it are the open concourses, the good weather, and the decent job they’ve done of displaying team history. You can find information about their championship teams and all of their MVP’s and Cy Young award winners in multiple places inside and outside the ballpark. They even have the championships from their time in Philadelphia displayed, which is a nice touch. I also liked the fact that we were able to get great seats so easily. We had seats in row 20 right behind home plate. We had a great evening and it was definitely nice to see the A’s stadium, but it is not an impressive place. My dad told me that it was a little better back before Al Davis enclosed the stadium by building an additional giant seating section in the outfield, meaning that you can no longer see outside of the park.

After the game, we drove to our hotel (Embassy Suites) in San Jose, where my dad needed to be for his work.

Thursday, June 7th:

Thursday was a very long day for me. My dad went to work for the day, and I was all alone in our hotel room. After the great Embassy Suites omelet for breakfast, I watched SportsCenter until lunchtime, when I went to the downstairs restaurant and got a surprisingly good pizza. After lunch, I was able to catch parts of the last Harry Potter movie, and the first Jurassic Park, as well as listen to the Rangers game on the radio.

After my dad got back from work, we went to a burger place called St. Johns that some people had recommended. It was supposedly the best burger in town. It was really crowded, but the burger was tasteless and very disappointing. Our conclusion was that they just don’t have good burger places in San Jose, so they don’t know what a good burger is. We felt bad for them.

Friday, June 8th:

My dad went to work again in the morning, but this day was much less boring for me, as the awesome Stony Brook-LSU baseball game was on, and it was an all-time classic.

Once my dad got back to the hotel from work, we drove to a Caltrain station and took the train up to the ballpark, which was about an hour long ride from where we were staying, but it let us avoid the San Francisco traffic at rush hour.

The Giants’ ballpark, AT&T Park, is the antithesis of the A’s stadium, as it is one of the top five parks in all of baseball. It has a great look with lots of character.

They do an amazing job of displaying their franchise history, all the way around the ballpark. We spent an hour just walking around the outside of the park and reading about the team’s history. We started at the Willie Mays statue at the home plate gate and then worked our way towards the first base gate. At the wall of that gate they have a huge painted mural showing every championship, pennant, division title, MVP, Cy Young, Gold Glove, etc. in franchise history, including the New York Giants days. It is a great reminder of how impressive their history is. We then made our way out around McCovey Cove to the Willie McCovey statue. On the way there, they have a plaque displaying details about every San Francisco Giants team prior to the AT&T Park era. There is a plaque for each year, showing the team’s record, position in the final standings, attendance, team batting and pitching leaders, and every member of the team.

We then walked back around McCovey Cove and along the right field wall. The ground in this area is covered in plaques displaying great moments in the AT&T era, such as Barry Bonds’ big homers and their various playoff appearances. At the center field entrance is a statue of the old San Francisco Seals logo (the minor league team that the Giants replaced). We then headed towards the third base gate and the Orlando Cepeda statue. Finally, we enjoyed the wall between first base and home plate, where the plaques for each Giants Hall of Fame inductees are displayed. I don’t know of any team that has done a better job of displaying their history in so many ways at their ballpark.

We finally checked out the inside of the park, which is just as impressive as the outside. It has a great view of the bay from most seats, has open concourses, and just has a great look and feel to it. Good seats weren’t so easy to get for the Giants game, so we were in the upper deck near the left field foul pole. But they were actually good seats. We had a good view of the park and could still see the center field jumbo-tron from where we were. We were also right beneath all of their flags celebrating their playoff appearances and could read them. And somehow our seats were just perfectly protected from the wind, so it wasn’t too cold.

The game was also much better than the one we saw in Oakland, as Matt Harrison tossed a gem and an early Ian Kinsler home run led to a 5-0 Ranger victory.

This was my 29th current ballpark to see a game in (I’ve also seen games in a few retired ballparks). I now only need to see a game in Seattle to have been to every current ballpark. We’re planning to go there next summer.

After the game, we took the train back to our hotel and slept.

Saturday, June 9th:

Saturday morning we did all the tourist stuff in San Francisco. The first place we went was Fisherman’s Wharf, which, other than the sea lions, was pretty uninspiring. It was really just a big dirty crowded shopping area. After that, we drove down Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world, which was neat.

The coolest part of the day, though, by far, was Willie McCovey’s restaurant out in Walnut Creek, where we went for lunch. It was a longer drive than we expected but it was worth it. It had all sorts of baseball memorabilia, and both the outside and inside were made to look like AT&T Park.

After we ate lunch, we drove back to the San Francisco airport and had another smooth flight (especially because my dad got us both upgraded to first class), this one back to Dallas.

Come back soon for an All-Star Game trip report.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

June Awards

This week I will post my June Awards, which are who I think should win the awards if the season were to end today.

Also, make sure to follow Texas Rangers Trades (@trtrades) on twitter if you haven't yet.

Rangers Awards:

MVP: Josh Hamilton, TEX (.314 AVG, 25 HR, 73 RBI) - As my AL MVP, I don't think there is any way that Josh isn't my Rangers MVP.
Runner-up: Adrian Beltre, TEX (.323 AVG, 14 HR, 52 RBI)

Cy Young: Matt Harrison, TEX (11-3, 3.16 ERA, 65 K) - One of the Rangers 7 All-Stars (hopefully 8), Matt is tied for the league-lead in wins with David Price, with an ERA hovering around 3.00.
Runner-up: Yu Darvish, TEX (10-5, 3.59 ERA, 117 K)

Rookie of the Year: Yu Darvish, TEX (10-5, 3.59 ERA, 117 K) - Yu has had a very good rookie season, and with a stiff class of rookies for the Rangers this year, from Robbie Ross to Brandon Snyder to smaller pieces, Darvish has been the best.
Runner-up: Robbie Ross, TEX (6-0, 1.03 ERA, 26 K)

AL Awards:

MVP: Josh Hamilton, TEX (.314 AVG, 25 HR, 73 RBI) - Even after a really bad June for Josh, he is still the best player in the American League, 2nd in home runs, 1st in RBIs, and towards the top in batting average. If he can break out of his slump, he still has a chance at the Triple Crown.
Runner-up: Adrian Beltre, TEX (.323 AVG, 14 HR, 52 RBI)

Cy Young: Jered Weaver, LAA (9-1, 2.13 ERA, 68 K) - Jered is the league leader in ERA, and despite his surprising lack of strikeouts, his tremendous ERA and 9-1 record are still plenty enough to make him the Cy Young thus far.
Runner-up: David Price, TB (11-4, 2.92 ERA, 97 K)

Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, LAA (.339 AVG, 9 HR, 33 RBI) - Unfortunately, the Angels called Trout up. Fortunately, they had him start the year in AAA. Ever since Trout came up the Angels have been on fire after their slow start, and Mike has done well enough to become the AL league leader in batting average.
Runner-up: Yu Darvish, TEX (10-5, 3.59 ERA, 117 K)

Manager of the Year: Robin Ventura, CWS (42-37, 1st place) - The White Sox were supposed to be a miserably bad team this year, and Ventura has played a big role in them going from a projected 5th place to a real 1st place.
Runner-up: Ron Washington, TEX (50-30, 1st place)

NL Awards:

MVP: Joey Votto, CIN (.350 AVG, 14 HR, 47 RBI, .471 OBP) - Even though Votto has a lower batting average, less home runs, and fewer RBIs than Andrew McCutchen, my runner-up, Joey has an absolutely ridiculous .471 OBP, which means he gets on base 1 out of every 2 trips to the plate, an unheard of number this late in the season.
Runner-up: Andrew McCutchen, PIT (.354 AVG, 15 HR, 52 RBI)

Cy Young: RA Dickey, NYM (12-1, 2.15 ERA, 116 K) - RA leads baseball in wins, is third in the NL in ERA, and is near the very top in strikeouts. He has a chance to win the Triple Crown for pitching in the NL, like Clayton Kershaw did last year.
Runner-up: Johnny Cueto, CIN (9-4, 2.26 ERA, 79 K)

Rookie of the Year: Wade Miley, ARI (9-4, 2.87 ERA, 66 K) - Miley, in a weak NL class of rookies, is thus far the only NL rookie All-Star, with a sub-3.00 ERA and a very solid 9-4 record.
Runner-up: Kirk Niewenhuis, NYM (.275 AVG, 7 HR, 25 RBI)

Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, PIT (43-36, 2nd place) - Hurdle has led the Pirates to consecutive good first halves, and has finally brought some winning to the previously sad-sack franchise, who is currently a wild card and just 1 game back of the Cincinnati Reds.
Runner-up: Davey Johnson, WAS (45-32, 1st place)

Come back next week for my San Francisco-Oakland Trip Report.