AGon’s grand slam, and
five more runs: the horror of
Mike Mayers’ first start!
I had been to the Home Run Derby and All Star Game twice (2009 in St Louis and 2011 in Phoenix) and always had a great time. I was tempted to buy a ticket strip for the San Diego festivities but decided I shouldn’t spend the money at the time they went on sale. Of course, since then, I’ve still had the desire to go, and when I found out two good friends would also be visiting from out of town, I decided to get a last minute ticket on StubHub and come down from LA for a day trip to attend just the Fan Fest and Home Run Derby.
If I have to pick only one All Star event, I’ll always pick the Derby because it’s just so much fun to watch the homers soar out of the park. I like seeing the players hanging out and encouraging each other. I like the camaraderie and relaxed vibe.
I played the Stubhub waiting game and I never know when is the best time to jump on tickets there. I only needed a single seat. On the day before the Derby, I could have grabbed a standing room ticket in one of the bleacher-area holding pens/bars for $100. That was the best deal I saw but I waited too long. By Derby morning, the ticket was up to $180. Then I saw another single seat pop up in the premier club behind home plate, about 25 rows back, for below face value at $220 so I grabbed it. I am always torn between wanting to actually see the players swing from a good seat, and wanting to have a chance to catch a ball. In the end I decided I’d rather have a seat than do the standing room area, as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get to the stadium very early to secure a spot.
I drove down to San Diego in the late morning to avoid traffic from LA, and I went straight to the Fan Fest at the convention center. This was similar to other Fan Fests I’ve attended. Tim Raines was posing for photos, as other players had done throughout the various days. There were many baseball activities for the kids, like batting cages and clinics. I enjoyed the Hall of Fame exhibit (including Lou Brock and Grover Cleveland Alexander jerseys) and some of the baseball history exhibits, although they were retreads of past Fan Fests to some degree.
The big draw is always the store. They were giving away pins every hour and people queued up for that. They had a jersey factory set up where fans could custom jerseys with names and numbers. I liked the retro Padres uniform aesthetic they applied to the batting practice jerseys and caps, so I bought the Cardinals cap for the exorbitant cost of $44, then realized it didn’t have the All Star Game patch. I then found out I could have the patch applied for an additional $5! This was a real rip off and people were pissed off, especially because these hats with the patch were $39 on the MLB website. After I walked away with my cap, I looked at it and noticed that the patch had folded slightly during application and you couldn’t read the year, so I took it back. Someone behind me had a similar issue. The clerk explained the situation to her manager who actually rolled her eyes but allowed us to get replacement hats. If we’re paying that much, of course we want it to look right! Still, merchandise was flying off the shelves. We all needed to show the world we’d been there.
It’s a short walk from the convention center to Petco Park, although it was made longer by a security fence that had been erected around more than half the stadium. I loved the view from my seat and enjoyed the waiter service – first time I’ve ever sat in a section that offered it. My seats also came with access to the Premier Club restaurant and bar, but I didn’t avail myself of it. I would have loved to have sat in the Western Metal Supply building seats as many homers went to them, but those seats were pricey.
Fall Out Boy opened the festivities with a few songs, and there was a military jet flyover that I couldn’t see as my seats were under an overhang. The format of the Derby made things go quite fast and created a lot of excitement to see who would advance in each round. Of course the highlight was watching Giancarlo Stanton win and set a new record with 61 homers during the course of the derby. It was just a thing of beauty to watch him crush the ball over and over, and he made it seem effortless.
After the Derby, many fans were enjoying the nightlife in the adjacent Gaslamp Quarter. I had no trouble with traffic as my car was about half a mile away in a lot near the convention center and it took a little while to walk over there. I met my friends at their hotel and didn’t end up getting back home until 1:00 AM but it was worth it! I think San Diego did a great job hosting, and I’m glad I was able to go.
You can check out all my pics here.
Tejada pitched? Uh…
Clasp your Yadi gnome. Forget
game where you got it.
homer is enough. Wacha’s
great; Nola’s better.
Grichuk’s homer sparks
ninth inning rally. Mets match.
No one loves a tie.
Four words that gladden
the hearts of Cardinal Nation:
Pitchers and Catchers Report!
It’s been 4 years since I posted, but I am back and intend to cover the season with a haiku for each game and occasional longer posts. I am taking a hiatus from real life to do some writing and that includes blogging. While I followed the Cardinals faithfully the last few years, my job got so busy that I didn’t have time to blog.
I’m not in Jupiter this year but hope that everyone who attends Spring Training will have a blast!
You can also see my haikus on Twitter – @CardinalHaiku
Wow, tonight’s game is waking me out of my long blogging slumber! What a thriller! I’m so impressed with this team. It’s extra-exciting when nobody expects much from them, and they prove them wrong again and again. The amazing September would have really been enough to satisfy me. I told myself, well, it’s a real long shot they’ll get the wild card, but I’m just happy they are making things interesting. And then we got down to the final 2 weeks and they really had a shot and then I realized – no, it’s not really enough for me if they don’t get the wild card. And then they got it – but barely! Work has been stressful lately, but the Cardinals have caused me way more stress. But it’s good stress.
That brings me to the NLDS, which nobody expected the Cardinals to win. Why would they? The Phillies are the strongest team in the NL, and possibly all of baseball. They had the home field advantage and pitchers like Halladay and Lee. But the Cardinals had something else – momentum, heart, and really high self-esteem. Plus, they have a lot of players with playoff experience.
Game 1 – Phillies 11, Cardinals 6
The Phillies jumped all over Kyle Lohse. The game was out of reach, but the Cards still battled back and scored some runs. I knew they would be gutting it out the whole way.
Game 2 – Cardinals 5, Phillies 4
I didn’t agree with Tony’s decision to pitch Carpenter on 3-days rest. I trust Tony but I don’t always understand him, but how can I expect to – I’m a fan, and he’s LaGenius! So the Phillies jumped to a 4-0 lead on Carp, and we were going to have to rely on the shaky bullpen for most of the game. Somehow, the bullpen held the Phillies from further scoring, and we battled back – against Cliff Lee of all people – for the win. Philly fans were stunned into silence.
Game 3 – Phillies 3, Cardinals 2
Jaime Garcia pitched amazingly, but so did Cole Hamels. And then Ben Francisco hit a 3-run homer in the 7th. The Cards clawed back for 2 runs, but were 1 run short. Things seemed kind of bleak, knowing we’d have to go back to Philly – that is, if we could win the next one.
Game 4 – Cardinals 5, Phillies 3
The run of oddities continues, with David Freese the unlikely hero powering the Cards to victory over Roy Oswalt.
Game 5, Cardinals 1, Phillies 0
The stage was set for a classic battle between frenemies Carpenter and Halladay, and that’s exactly what happened. We exploded for a run in the first inning, and then not much happened offensively for either team. The Cards missed a great scoring opportunity in the 7th with the bases loaded and one out, and I felt that was a bad omen. But somehow, they held on, with great defense and a complete game by an ultra-intense Chris Carpenter.
I’m just so proud of this team and excited for this match-up with the Brewers! It’s another battle of the beer cities, just like 1982. I hope it ends similarly. Man, I miss Joaquin Andujar. We are playing with his intensity, and we’re just as fun to watch.