My friend David Mahoney very generously secured tickets for this afternoon game and, wonder of wonders, the seats were right behind home plate! That’s a true friend!
This was the second game of the latest installment of the Bay Bridge Series. The Giants won the first in dramatic fashion behind a stellar performance by Giants ace, Madison Bumgarner or Madbum as he is known here. So of course the A’s wanted to turn the tables and even the score. Further adding to the interest in this game is the fact that both teams are in the hunt for the second wild card spot in their respective leagues.
The game (and the series) were (this time) on the west end of the bridge in beautiful Oracle Park (as it is currently named), which is, indeed, one of the more interesting and comely baseball stadiums in the country. It features a seriously oversized Coke bottle (with a slide inside for the kids) and a very large replica of an old-fashioned baseball glove, not to mention the right field landing spot for many of Barry Bonds’ taters, McCovey Cove.
But the name, if it weren’t for the millions of dollars reaped by selling the naming rights, should be Willie Mays Park, since he has been the face of the franchise for nearly 70 years (he’s 88 and started with the Giants in 1951). This statue of him graces the entrance to the ballpark.
Although game time temperature was not up to Stockton’s standards (100), it was a very uncharacteristic 86 at the start and 88 by the end. I couldn’t help remembering the only game I ever attended at the Giants’ prior venue, Candlestick Park, which was in June and the end of a day in court. I knew I was in trouble when I arrived to see the ticket taker with his ear flaps down. My suit coat was scant protection against the Candlestick wind. I nearly froze to death. Not today.
The Giants win in the first game further nudged along, according to David Mahoney, the “happy talk” that the Giants were going to come back as in past years and get to the World Series. We both harbor some skepticism about that.
Our view was buttressed by the A’s offense (Matt Chapman hit two solo home runs and the team racked up 15 hits) and veteran Homer Bailey’s assortment of junk. Bailey didn’t give up a run, allowed only two hits while striking out seven and walking just one. The Giants didn’t have a clue. Oh yes, and he went two for three at the plate as well. But after Bailey left, the A’s relievers didn’t fare so well.
The high point of the game for me came in the bottom of the eighth when the Giants finally broke through to score five runs. The best three of those came on a first pitch home run by Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Carl Yastrzemski. Why? Because I happened to be at the game at Fenway Park in 1967 when Carl and the Red Sox clinched the pennant. Even though Mike’s dinger didn’t win the game, it was still a wonderful moment. Here he is just as the pitch is thrown and crossing home plate behind his mates. It wasn’t enough though as the A’s held on to win 9-5.
And let’s not forget food. Oracle has a good variety of food, though given it’s proximity to San Francisco’s large Chinatown, I would have expected more Chinese offerings. I saw only one, and it was obscure – I can’t remember the name. I had a Sheboygan sausage – wait, how did that happen – this ain’t Milwaukee – and it was good. But best of all was the organic food stand offering the world’s only “certified organic corn dog.” And to wash it down, you could get organic lemonade and vodka. No wonder California has so many people. The topper though – David told me this and even if it wasn’t true we’d have to believe it – the area beneath the Jumbotron in centerfield is planted in organic vegetables! Is this a great country or what?!