SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Something that definitely didn’t occur to me until I was walking around AT&T Park before Sunday’s Giants game was just how cold the Bay Area is. It’s the beginning of August, probably the hottest time of the year in most places, and the weather report called for a high of 59. But just as I was about to discount both Bay Area teams for this failing of Mother Nature, the morning fog burned off, the sun came out, and it turned into a beautiful day for baseball. The only problem was that for the rest of the day I had to schlep around the $8 throw that I bought at Walgreens.
Though I much prefer the name PacBell, AT&T offers both an intimate baseball environment and sweeping panoramas of the Bay.
AT&T Park offers everything a fan could possibly ask for, and then some. The views of the Bay—and specifically the Bay Bridge beyond left field—are breathtaking, and the stadium has an intimate feeling, similar to a spring training park. For $30 I got a seat on the arcade in right field, close to the action because of the short porch and McCovey Cove directly behind me.
Fans arrived by foot, by car, by light rail, and even by ferry. I entered through the Marina Gate, after walking down to the end of the pier to look at all the sailboats parked outside.
Like McAfee Coliseum, AT&T Park offered a wide array of standard, as well as nontraditional, fare. One could get a hotdog and beer or chowder and wine. I took the middle route and got chicken fingers with garlic fries and a local brew from the Gilroy Garlic Fries stand, which bills itself as the first green concession stand. According to its write-up, the stand utilizes energy saving practices that conserve enough energy to cook 110 tons of garlic fries.
Elsewhere there were stands offering wines straight from California’s wine country, fresh California grapes, assorted Chinese dishes, even crab cakes.
There were sports memorabilia stands and plenty of souvenir shops. But beyond that, some of the options became a little ludicrous. Behind center field, nestled between the chowder stand and the giant baseball glove, was a Build-A-Bear workshop, where one could customize their very own “Lou Seal” stuffed animal.
As the day wore on, the wind began to pick up and in select spots of the stadium, the breeze swept through like a wind tunnel.
Also as I discovered while trying to interview some of the kayakers on McCovey Cove, the water jets that along the right field wall sporadically shoot water on pedestrians walking behind the stadium.
With phenoms like Tim Lincecum and cult heroes like Pablo "Panda" Sandoval, what's not to like?
For a team that was built solely around Barry Bonds as recently as 2007, the Giants seem to have successfully moved on.
With a strong pitching staff, including Barry Zito and Matt Cain, and anchored by ace Tim Lincecum, the Giants also have some bats that get the job done. Pablo Sandoval (nicknamed Panda as I discovered) is already a cult hero, as is Freddy Sanchez. Ryan Garko’s a black hole at the clean up spot lately with his abysmal .142 batting average over the past week.
Aaron Rowand recently broke out of his hitting slump and drilled a triple to the deepest part of center in his first at bat on Sunday.
“You got the best up-and-coming team, the pitching, and they’re trying to do something about their hitting,” said one member of the “Bonds Navy,” sitting on his kayak in McCovey Cove.
As an added bonus, the players seem to interact well with the fans.
“We have the best players,” said Joyce Frybarger, an elderly woman dressed from head to foot in Giants gear and a Giants fan since the mid-60s. “And they’re the nicest players.”
During warm-ups, Edgar Renteria got dueling sections of the fans to compete in a cheer off to determine which section he’d toss a ball into.
Freddy Sanchez threw a ball straight to me during batting practice, but some guy next to me snatched it out of the sky like Jaws. To be fair, the guy was the one who had called out to him.
The fans exceeded my expectation in terms of knowledge of the game. But it is easy to get carried away with things other than the game.
Going into Sunday’s game, I feared that Giants fans might be of the fair-weather variety. I thought of an analogy my dad and I had discussed: the Brooklyn Dodgers are to the New York Yankees as the Chicago White Sox are to the Chicago Cubs as the Oakland Athletics are to the San Francisco Giants. We had decided that the A’s were probably the working man’s team, whereas the Giants would attract more of the yuppie crowd.
But I found that most Giants fans are very well informed—perhaps because I was sitting in the cheap seats where the non-fair-weather fans tend to sit.
As the game got under way, the stadium filled up quickly and, according to ESPN, the attendance was 42,744—102.8% full. So there’s no arguing with statistics. These fans come out.
And for many, especially those on the water, a visit to AT&T Park is about far more than baseball.
And though he has never caught a “splasher,” he remains optimistic.
“It doesn’t matter if you get a ball,” he said. “It just matters that you’re in the Cove.”
FINAL SCORE OF THE GAME: Giants 7, Phillies 3
Dixon McPhillips '10, a Crimson sports chair, is a visual and environmental studies concentrator in Kirkland House.