Tag Archives: AT&T Park

And a happy Baseball Solstice to us, every one!

We’ve gotten past the Mayan apocalypse, so now we can move on and celebrate the Baseball Solstice. That’s the mid-point between the end of the World Series and the first exhibition game pitch of spring training, which we will celebrate this year in concert with Christmas.

Unlike the winter solstice at Stonehenge, there is no precise hour at which the sun peers through the pocket on the big glove at San Francisco’s AT&T Park or glints off the Citgo sign at Fenway Park.  As I noted several days ago, Countdown to Spring Training and the Ball Caps Blog have divined that, this year, we should celebrate from sunset Christmas Eve through sundown Christmas Day.

As the solstice is concurrent with a sacred Christian holiday, we urge all baseball fans to participate in a respectful way. Wrap a glove and donate it to Toys for Tots, or playfully announce “beer here!” when serving beverages to guests at holiday gatherings.

To all my readers, a happy solstice and a merry Christmas!

My friend Kelly makes a bid for the MLB Fan Cave

A colleague at work and a huge baseball fan, my friend Kelly Jones is making a bid for the MLB Fan Cave for this baseball season. She’s put up a YouTube video making her case, which you can watch here. That way you can find out why she talks through her mitt so much!

(Good luck, Kelly!)

 

Coming out as a San Francisco Giants fan

With one of my sons and a friend, I went to see the Cleveland Indians play the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco yesterday. The nationally televised game was a test of loyalty for me: Would I root for the team of my youth or the team of my recent years.

Honestly, I wasn’t fully sure which way I’d go. I dressed accordingly. I wore my ’48 Indians cap above my Willie Mays jersey, and my Indians socks were concealed under the legs of my jeans.

Watching the Indians take batting practice, I reminisced about all the times I watched them warm up at the old Municipal Stadium. Our seats at AT&T Park were directly behind home plate in the third deck, reminding me of all the games in which my friends and I sat in the stadium’s upper deck from almost exactly the same vantage point.

The teams were introduced, the game began — and then a strange thing happened.

The Indians touched up Giants starter Madison Bumgarner for a couple of early hits, and a cluster of Indians fans a few rows back cheered each time.

That annoyed me.

After nearly 55 of years of watching baseball, I finally, fully crossed over the line. I bleed orange and black. I prefer the Senior Circuit. I loathe the designated hitter.

I still cling to my lifelong hope that the Indians will win a World Series, imagining that I’ll return home for the celebration at Public Square with millions of Indians fans weeping for joy.

I just pray the Indians do that at the expense of any team but the Giants.

NOTE: I’ve now seen the Indians at a pretty good list of stadiums: Municipal Stadium and Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, The Kingdome, Oakland Coliseum and AT&T Park.

The Twins win, and we’re stuck with more games in that horrid dome

Twins win

Twins win

The Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings Tuesday night to win the American League Central title, and I’m not happy.

Not because the Twins won per se. They’ve been a terrific story this season, charging from behind to tie the Tigers and force the one-game playoff for the division title.

What irritates me is the prospect of at least one more baseball game being played in the  abomination that is the Metrodome. Although I’ve never set foot in it, I’ve loathed that dome for years.

When the Brewers were in the American League and played there, I hated it on general principles.

When Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek and that generation of Twins were in their heyday, I hated it for the homer hankies the fans waved. (I’ve always hated any team whose fans in an act of mass silliness wave hankies or towels or – please, God, no – thundersticks.)

I even hate the dome in football season, as in the past two weeks when the 49ers and Packers lost in succession to the Vikings.

Why do I find the dome so revolting? I don’t begrudge the Twins and Vikings fans a warm place to sit when it’s freezing outside. But the Metrodome is an over-the-top artificial environment, a chamber of Nordic screams designed to rile and rattle the opposing team. The building is a huge advantage for the home squad, and unfairly so.

There are other domes in professional sports. I’ve been in Skydome or whatever it’s now called in Toronto and the old Kingdome in Seattle (inset), for which I had a minimal, grudging tolerance. I’ve also been in Miller Park in Milwaukee, with the roof open and closed. None of those parks approaches the Metrodome in affecting the outcome of a game.

Quirky differences among ballparks parks add to baseball’s appeal — the Green Monster at Fenway Park, the ivy at Wrigley Field, McCovey Cove in San Francisco, the arches at Yankee stadia, old and new. Those features constitute charm and give the home team a bit of a boost. But they don’t loom oppressively over the game as does the Metrodome.

That the Twins are moving to the new Target Field next season is good news. It can’t come soon enough.

Iconic baseball caps: The Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers cap is one of the best in baseball.

With their blade-straight serifs against the deep blue fabric, the white “L” and “A” form one of the most instantly recognizable logos in sport.

Look at this book cover photo of Sandy Koufax at left. (What a great portrait!) Even the most hardened Dodger hater has to admit: the cap is classy.

As a blue-eyed kid in Cleveland reading about Koufax, Don Drysdale and the rest of the Dodgers way out west, I fantasized every now and then about wearing Dodger blue. As an adult who’s spent most of the past two decades close to Candlestick and AT&T parks, I can’t bring myself to wear it now.

Alliances notwithstanding, I have to say the Dodger cap is one of the most aesthetically pleasing caps of all time.

Vote for Pablo!

A journalist by profession, I usually refrain from taking sides. I try to see the merits and disadvantages of each aspect of an issue, causing me occasionally to over-analyze a situation. I confess, I’ve been overthinking the issue of fans voting for the American and National league All-Star game rosters.

Major League Baseball is using its “Final Vote” promotion to lure fans to its Web site and vote among five players in each league for the final spots on the AL and NL teams. The traditionalist devil in pinstripes on my left shoulder keeps shouting in my ear, “It’s a crass commercial gimmick that diminishes the dignity of the game.”

The “lighten up” angel wearing Astros’ mustard stripe double-knits on my right shoulder says calmly and confidently: “Hey, it’s game. It’s for the fans. It’s fun.”

I listened to the angelic voice and have been stopping by MLB a couple times each day. I’ve cast most of my AL votes for Carlos Pena of the Tampa Bay Rays. But on every single one of my NL ballots, I’ve marked Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants, the guy under the “SF” cap above.

The Giants organization is having some fun with it. On last night’s telecast, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow were plugging Sandoval, the “Kung Fu Panda,” as they broadcast from a platform down the right field line. Behind them were “Vote Pablo” posters plastered to the brick walls of AT&T Park.

I imagine the other teams are likewise pumping the fans to vote for their players. The voting, which ends at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, lasts only a few days. The dignity of baseball can surely survive that.

And now, back to voting, Chicago-style, early and often (and late) for Pablo.