San Diego: Following the Phillies Part I

On Wednesday the Phillies played the Padres in the final game of a three game series. I made the drive down to San Diego to see the game. It was my first trip to San Diego. Traffic in southern California is atrocious. I am not a true Californian; if you ask me what route I took my reply is: “I took 101 south to 5 south.” If I were a true Californian I would say: “I took the 101 south to the 5 south.” I just can’t add the the before highway numbers.

I arrived in San Diego in the early afternoon, so I went to Balboa Park to kill some time (the park slogan: A landscape of arts and culture). At Balboa Park I saw a huge succulent garden, a rose garden, a Spanish art village, and a veterans memorial. I also talked to some street evangelists and ate a cheesesteak. It would be easy to spend several days in Balboa Park. The park hosts the San Diego Zoo, many museums, theatres, gardens, and lots of interesting places to explore. You also spend a day people watching.

In the late afternoon I checked into the hotel I booked in downtown San Diego. My walk to the ballpark was less than a mile. I arrived just as the gates were opening. Petco Park is a beautiful ballpark. I really like the landscaping and layout of the area behind center field. People were sitting on the raised green watching batting practice when I walked in.

Standing on the raised green behind center field.

Standing on the raised green behind center field.

Using my zoom lens to see Domonic Brown taking batting practice.

Domonic Brown taking batting practice.

I love that there is a little field for kids to play on within the ballpark. This is a great idea.

The little field for kids that is beyond center field.

The little field for kids that is beyond center field.

I like statues of former players at ballparks. Mr. Padre resides in the center field park.

The Tony Gwynn statue beyond center field.

The Tony Gwynn statue beyond center field.

During construction of the park an old brick building that had housed the Western Metal Supply Company was scheduled for demolition. The building had historic landmark status however, so instead of being demolished it was incorporated into the ballpark. It adds a lot of character to the park design.

The Western Metal Fascade in left field.

The Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field.

A little closer.

A little closer.

I enjoyed seeing all the plants around the park. The hanging ivy in the concourse is particularly impressive.

Hanging ivy in the concourse.

Hanging ivy in the concourse.

I sat in the Toyota Terrace Pavillion in the first row of section 218. Well before game time the Geico Gecko threw a ceremonial first pitch to the Swinging Friar.

The Geico gekko and Friar teamed up for a ceremonial first pitch.

The Geico gecko and the Swinging Friar teamed up for a ceremonial first pitch.

It was a beautiful night at the ballpark (then again, almost every night during baseball season in San Diego is beautiful). Sitting beside me were two elderly women who had season tickets and were serious Padres fans. “We’re like the fans from Major League” the women sitting to my immediate left said. The remaining seats around us were empty.

And so we talked baseball for 4 hours.

The game went back and forth. The Phillies had a lead, the Padres tied the game, the Padres took the lead, the Phillies tied the game, and we went to extra innings. During the game fans in right field posted Ks for strikeouts and Qs for quick outs. I had never seen Qs posted at a baseball game before. A sign above the posted Qs explained: “QUICK OUT 3 Pitches or Less.” I’d never heard of this as a stat (and I would say 3 pitches or fewer).

The right field Q posting.

The right field Q posting.

In the 13th inning the Phillies scored two runs on a double error to take the lead. Jonathan Papelbon closed the game.

It's a good sign when your closer an catcher end ther game with a fist bump.

It’s a good sign when your closer an catcher end the game with a fist bump.

It was an entertaining game. By the time the Phillies won the game there appeared to be more Phillies fans in the park than Padres fans. Chants of “Let’s Go Phillies!” were loud in the 13th inning.

The final.

Game summary.

The fans in San Diego were very friendly. They were quick to offer suggestions of places to eat and things to see. The only negative thing I encountered was a jerk heckling the Phillies during batting practice (he was chiding Domonic Brown for not giving balls to the kids watching batting practice and ended up giving him the finger in front of the kids and calling Brown a terrible role model–oh the irony).

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