So I'm in San Diego for the week (well, till Thursday takes me to Vegas), and since I'm out here by myself, I was looking for entertainment.
Watson suggested that I catch a game at Petco Park. And boy, what a matchup -- Padres vs. Diamondbacks. You can't get a series I could care any less about. :)
That being said, as the resident blogger in charge of opinions on enjoyment of the game, I bought myself a ticket to sit in Section 104, Row 15, Seat 11. This is a field box seat, as I figured if I was going by myself, I might as well get the best I could and really do it up. Would keep me motivated to go, since I really didn't care about the game.
As I described to the Mrs., San Diego is very "beautiful", but I haven't figured out anything else that it is. The ballpark did have a lot going for it. I arrived about 6:30, with a 7:05 start. My first moment of amusement was watching Vinny Castilla waddle on field. I don't miss that.
First, the game. The Padres got STOMPED. It started off more like a pitching battle, with Peavy and Vargas going at it, but became a blowout when the D'backs just kept the hits coming. I got particularly pissed off when they showed Vargas' great stats "since being picked up from waivers from Washington". Yeah, that pissed me off.
But onto the more important stuff. The game experience.
This is the kind of ballpark I want. Beautiful wide walkways, open views of the city all around, good views of the field just a step away from where you are. Tons of food options, all of which had short lines that moved quickly, took my credit card, and made me a happy camper. The automated will call was also cool -- I bought my ticket yesterday online, and just had to swipe my credit card as I came in, and my ticket printed and was ready to go.
There were ushers everywhere -- and they were paying attention. They held signs to hold people from heading into the bowl when there was a play in progress, and they checked my ticket to ensure I was in the right area. No sneaking down to the lower deck in this stadium.
If you think the Nat Pack is lame, you could try the Pad Squad. Nat Pack at least rolls off the tongue better. And I'm really done complaining about Screech. Seriously. Nate, you may not like Screech, but dammit, he's at least a real mascot. We could have the goddamn Swinging Friar. I kid you not. I'll take our funky chicken any day.
I also won't mock RFK DJ so much anymore. They have the "Padres Jukebox (by Verizon)". This scam to make money by a cell phone company involves collecting text message votes for a song to play later in the game. At least RFK DJ isn't a scam to sell text messages.
During the sixth inning, I was amused by the t-shirt shoot. At Petco, you get not only the Swinging Friar and the Pad Squad, but you also get two PETCO mascots, and the whole thing is sponsored by Weinerschnitzel. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
Padres fans don't know what a good thing they have -- they have running water in the bathrooms and real ice cream, served in little batting helmets. Try as I might, I haven't found that at RFK yet. I haven't been able to buy my Chipwich yet. I did have to laugh -- despite a game time temperature of 65 degrees, the Padres fans were dressed like it was winter. Winter coats and all -- wusses.
Finally, I hope our baseball district is HALF as cool as San Diego's. The ballpark is right downtown, and the historic Gaslamp District is right there. Tons of cool restaurants, bars, shopping .... almost all with Padres signs, banners, neon, and the like. Trolleys take fans away from the area quickly and efficiently, and there is parking in garages all in the area.
For all you dismissing the stadium design, I have very high hopes now. PETCO felt like more a modern structure than quite a throwback like Camden Yards, and we could do very well with it. Come about 2010, we might like hanging out there more than around the Phone Booth.
Go Nats. I wouldn't mind borrowing PETCO park for DC.