Bay Area Road Trip: Rangers-Giants June 8, 2012

I had planned this lofty goal of seeing the Rangers play the Giants in San Francisco the minute I saw the Rangers schedule released before the season. However, this was only possible under the following conditions:

  • I would have to get an internship in California, and my work days could not conflict with the day the games were scheduled.
  • I would have to get a car out here.
  • I would have to find a place to stay in the Bay Area.

If I met all of those conditions, there was no stopping me from taking this trip. Thankfully, I got an internship, and the hours did not conflict with the game schedule. And, USC has a partnership with Enterprise allowing students under 21 to rent vehicles, so I rented a car for the week, allowing me to go to my internship, and to take this trip.

The Planning

Luckily, my roommate Pierre was staying in San Jose, not too far away from San Francisco (so I thought). I asked him if I could stay at his place for the night, and he said he would only if he could go to the game. After he got me a front row seat to see Steve Wozniak back at school, which is an incredible story by itself, I figured taking him to a baseball game is the least I could do. He was available the entire weekend, which made things really easy for me.

I then called Ann, who you may remember as my guest on in the Trade Deadline Special, to figure out which day would work best. We decided that Friday would be ideal, as it would allow me to drive up to the Bay Area on Friday, stay in the area Friday night, and drive back safely to Los Angeles on Saturday after getting a good night’s sleep, and then go to my internship on Sunday. We picked seats in the upper deck on the third base side, which went for $12 a seat on StubHub. I wanted to get a view of the Bay when I went there, as well as get a decent view of the game.

The Road Trip

I made sure to prepare myself for the trip, so I bought snacks and water bottles to keep myself awake for the drive, which was going to be six hours both ways, with planned stops in Kettleman City halfway between the Bay Area and Los Angeles. I also took the time to research radio stations in Bakersfield and Fresno, since I was going to lose reception about an hour into my drive and needed some form of entertainment to keep me awake. I left Los Angeles at 8:30 am Friday morning, and the trip was on.

I hope you weren’t expecting photos at this point, since I didn’t take any while I was driving, for obvious reasons.

Sure enough, about an hour into my drive up Interstate 5, I lost reception to both 98.7 FM and 106.7 FM, the two rock stations in LA I enjoy listening to. However, instead of tuning into the stations I looked up the night before, I turned on Pandora on my phone and listened to my Rise Against station, and created a new Deadmau5 station. Even though I didn’t have an aux plug in the rental car, my phone’s speakers were loud enough in my opinion. Three hours into my drive, I finally got to Kettleman City.

Why did I pick Kettleman City as my stop? In-N-Out Burger. If you want to know your other options, McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, and Taco Bell are your choices. But even then, isn’t the choice obvious? To me it is.

However, while I was in Kettleman City, the only road connecting to Interstate 5 had a traffic jam…at 11:30 in the morning. I was utterly confused and frustrated by this. How was it possible to have bumper-to-bumper traffic in the middle of nowhere? I sat in this line of cars for about ten minutes before people behind me realized that the line we were in didn’t matter if we were going to go north on Interstate 5, so I finally sped past all the cars waiting in that line and got back on the freeway to continue my journey.

For those of you who haven’t driven up and down the 5 yet, here’s a warning for you to heed. A little bit north of Kettleman City, you’ll drive by this place called Harris Ranch. It’s this gigantic cow farm east of the freeway that is also one of the largest sources of beef in the state. At first you’ll think, “damn, that’s a lot of cows.” Five seconds later you’ll then think, “What is that smell? Oh my God it’s that damn cow farm! Oh this smell is horrible!” This smell lingers for the next two miles if you don’t ventilate your car. So, pro tip: When you see signs for the CA 33, ventilate your car.

I made the mistake of not getting gas in Kettleman City, since I believed that I could get to San Jose on one tank of gas. Well, when I got the the 152, my tank was 1/4 full, so the odds of me making it to San Jose were pretty slim in my view. I had to take a detour to Hollister, California to get gas. Just for fun, I calculated how the fuel efficiency of the car I was driving, and it was an impressive 31 Miles/Gallon. Also, there are no beaches anywhere in Hollister. That damn clothing line is lying to you all.

Pregame Preparations

I finally got to San Jose at 2:30 or so, but Pierre wasn’t home so I had to crash at Ann’s for a couple hours until he got home so we could take the trains to San Francisco. In the meantime, we decided to make signs for the game. Ann made a sign discussing why the DH stunk, so I decided to make a sign rebutting all the points she made. Here’s what I drew:

This is a great sign.

Some of you may be wondering why there is a pear in the top left corner of the poster. It’s not because I have an irrational love for pears. No. It’s actually an LSBism. The blog managers asked members not to write “rape” in the comments, so some clever posters rearranged the letters and wrote “pear” with the same connotation. This allows for great words like “umpeared,” if an umpire really screws up a call. So that’s why that’s there. “#cookietalk” is on there too to poke fun at the broadcast, since every third inning is devoted to Tom Grieve taking time to thank all the fans who sent cookies to him in the broadcast booth, while the game is going on. Some people don’t mind it, while others can’t stand it.

So finally Pierre got back to his apartment, and I told him Ann and I made awesome signs for the game, and that he needed to step up and make a sign that was as good as our signs. We got to his apartment around 4:40 PM or so, showed him the signs we made, and gave him the last sheet of posterboard we had, and because we were nice, we brought markers for him.

The light rail VTA train took quite a while to get to the station closest to Pierre’s apartment, and if it was two minutes later, we probably would have missed the CalTrain that went from Mountain View, where we stopped on the light rail, to San Francisco. The CalTrain was kind of cool, since it was a double-decker train and something I had never seen before. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get a seat anywhere close to Pierre or Ann, so I sat in the back row of the train next to this passenger who didn’t utter a single word the entire time. Meanwhile, Pierre made his sign on the train by using the seat in front of him as the hard surface for him to write.

AT&T Park

Much better to be here for a baseball game than a cool, rainy 2009 Emerald Bowl.

We got to San Francisco about ten minutes before first pitch, but there was a logjam at the main entrance to the stadium, which I expected. I got heckled a little bit while I was there as well, which was also expected. But the Rangers fans who were waiting in line with me also gave me a shoutout, which is one aspect of going to a road game that I particularly enjoy, since every fan who made the trip is as die-hard of a fan as you are, and are always happy to see other fans at the stadium.

We missed the first pitch of the game as we were walking to our seats, but we saw it on the monitors. However, when we did get to our seats, we were shocked to see that the score was already 1-0 in favor of the Rangers. The one pitch we did not see on a monitor was hit into the left field seats by Ian Kinsler. I missed a home run. Oh well. Meanwhile, this was our view:

SPOTTED: JERSEY FOUL.

McCovey Cove in the distance. Did you know somebody recently tried to watch a game from the cove while levitating via a jetpack?

And now the reason we bought these seats: the view of the Bay. Gorgeous. By the way that Coke bottle is a slide.

One of the biggest worries I had going to San Francisco was the possibility of it raining the only day I could go. As you can see from the pictures, the weather could not have been more perfect. Clear skies allowed us to get a fantastic view of the Bay, something I didn’t get a chance to see the last time I was there for the 2009 Emerald Bowl since there were bleacher seats in right field blocking the view. The temperature was in the 50s so it was a tad chilly, and I had to wear jeans at a baseball game for the first time ever. A momentous occasion, indeed.

We decided to only show our signs during commercial breaks to see if we would get on the jumbotron in center. Everyone around us noticed the signs and either laughed at what they said, or heckled us because of what they said. I’ll let you all figure out who got heckled. For some reason, Pierre’s sign was the talk of the section, and not mine. Maybe it was because Pierre’s sign had a Texas joke on it, while mine said NL rules sucked (which they do).

One thing I particularly enjoy about going to road games is being the only one standing up when Josh Hamilton hits a home run to center field. Now, I’m a nice road fan in that I stand up and cheer for the Rangers really loudly when that happens, but I don’t taunt the Giants fans around me because strength in numbers is not in my favor.

It was a sellout crowd.

The Bay while the sun is setting.

After Josh Hamilton made it 3-0, and Matt Harrison got the shutdown inning in the bottom of the frame, I went to get food. Unfortunately, since it was three days before my 21st birthday, I could not buy beer. That’s okay, though. Three days wasn’t too much longer to wait. Anyway, as soon as I walked into the concourse, I was greeted with this:

The San Francisco skyline at sunset…dude…sweet.

The “must-eat” item of the ballpark that I had constantly heard about were AT&T Park’s garlic fries. The monitors at the Derby Grill near our seats even said they were a fan favorite.

Food!

You can’t see it very well, but chicken tenders with garlic fries go for $11.75 at AT&T Park. It’s okay, though. It’s about how much your average ballpark food would cost. Oh and yes, the garlic fries are good.

Towards the end of the game, all three of us tried a couple more times to get on the jumbotron by holding up our signs really high above our heads during the break. Some fans behind us did not appreciate my sign…at all. These guys shouted a lot of obscenities at Ian Kinsler, since they wanted to make sure I knew who they were heckling. In the interest of keeping this blog family-friendly, none of those will be posted. If you’re not somebody that doesn’t handle heckling well, I do not advise doing what I did: keep holding up the sign while they continue to heckle. But if you can handle opposing fans heckling you, ignore all the obscenities yelled at you, and laugh hysterically. It’s a great feeling.

Near the 7th inning, a guy in a luchador mask came to our section and led “Go Giants” chants while waving a huge Giants flag. Look at this guy:

This guy is awesome.

He’s wearing a freaking luchador mask! How awesome is that? Really awesome. Seriously, how many stadiums have people running around in luchador masks and giant (no pun intended) flags rallying the crowd? I can’t think of many.

Joaquin Arias, you guys.

It was the bottom of the eighth inning, and none of us had success getting on the jumbotron, so Pierre decided to run to the bottom of the section in a last ditch effort to get on the jumbotron.

Don’t worry. You’ll see what his sign said, eventually.

He didn’t make it onto the jumbotron. Instead, something else quite hilarious did. AT&T Park decided to play “Sexy and I Know It,” which always causes something funny to be shown on the jumbotron in any stadium. Even if you hate the song, which I don’t, you will laugh at somebody on the jumbotron who is dancing to it. In this case, it was an elderly gentleman dancing to it, and he was really into it. He was joined by a much younger woman, and the two of them danced together, bringing loud cheers from the rest of the crowd, and it was well-deserved, since it was hysterical.

These two brought some of the loudest cheers at the game.

I didn’t get any pictures of them dancing together because I was too busy laughing and applauding them. If you can’t tell who he is, the elderly gentleman is wearing a #45 jersey of some sort, and the young woman is to his right.

After the seventh inning stretch, something else really interesting happens at AT&T Park: Flight of the Seagulls.

These seagulls know what time it is.

The seagulls fly towards the stadium and sit atop of the stadium and watch the rest of the game. If there aren’t any fans sitting in one particular section, they fly towards that section.

Matt Harrison eventually got the last out to finish the complete game shutout, and the Rangers got their first ever win at AT&T Park 5-0. You know who also knew the game was over? The seagulls.

Cue “Flight of the Valkyries.”

The seagulls have completely taken over the field.

We stuck around to take pictures of us standing in front of the field with McCovey Cove, and now, you will all see our signs.

This sign was not approved by many around us.

There were some Rangers fans behind us, so I showed them my sign, which they all appreciated. They told me they were wondering the whole time what it said since they couldn’t read all of it while the game was going on.

Pierre’s sign, on the other hand, was a fan favorite.

Even Rangers fans thought Pierre’s sign was hilarious. Horned Frogs fans, anyone?

Everything Ann is referring to here is actually hysterical. I’ll give her that.

Unfortunately for Barry Zito, Ann’s second sign couldn’t inspire him to beat the Rangers.

Meanwhile, seagulls are going for the gold in the left field seats.

“Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!”

As we walked out of the stadium, there was this fantastic view of the Bay Bridge.

This park offers many scenic views of San Francisco landmarks, this being one of them.

As we walked out of the stadium, the palm trees outside the main entrance changed colors.

These trees are orange, you guys.

And, one last look at AT&T Park’s main entrance. Unfortunately, I did not have my awesome camera so I couldn’t take a night landscape shot like I did with Petco Park, but I think my iPhone camera did a decent job anyway.

Lights!

If you think this is where the story ends, sit back and relax because there’s quite a lot more left, actually.

Getting Back to San Jose…Eventually

Remember how we took the train to San Francisco from Mountain View? That resulted in quite an adventure, actually. Getting to the CalTrain wasn’t too much of an issue. We actually all got seats next to each other so we could talk to each other while we were on the train. As a bonus, the seats were on the upper deck!

The train ride from San Francisco to Mountain View is quite a long one, around an hour and a half or so. We got to the Mountain View station around midnight, but something immediately wasn’t right when we got off the train: Nobody was at the station waiting for a train. Pierre looked at the schedule to see when the last VTA train left since we all thought we may have missed it, and sure enough, the last train left Mountain View at 10:50 PM. We had no chance making that train, essentially. Even worse, we were stuck in Mountain View with no ride. The next CalTrain would arrive some time after 1 AM, and frankly, we did not want to wait an hour late at night in a city none of us were familiar with for a train.

Pierre decided to be the leader and try to walk from Mountain View to Pierre’s apartment in San Jose, which by the way is 9 miles. But to humor him, we went along with it. However, Pierre led us to this neighborhood that didn’t lead to the street he was trying to get to, and after walking aimlessly in the neighborhood for 20 minutes, we walked back to the station. To tell you the truth I was laughing the whole time.

Back at the station, we discussed the two other options we had of getting home: call a taxi, or call Ann’s parents, who live forty minutes away and had been awake since 5 am to take her younger brother to get surgery on his arm. We called a taxi. Conveniently enough, it was at the station as Ann was on the phone with the taxi dispatch, so props to that taxi driver for being in the right place at the right time.

Twenty minutes later, we finally got back to Pierre’s apartment, and then I had to drive Ann back to her house on the opposite side of town. It’s 12:45 am at this point, and I had been awake for almost 17 hours. One thing about driving in San Jose at night that is noteworthy are the streetlights. San Jose’s streetlights aren’t what we consider bright. Instead, they are very yellow. Aesthetically speaking, not that great of a look.

After dropping Ann off, we finally get back to Pierre’s apartment around 1:45 am. I’ve had a really long day, basically, but it was all completely worth it.

Pierre offered a vacant bed to sleep in, but I didn’t want to wake up the roommate that was already sleeping in that room, so I insisted on sleeping on the couch. I’m a firm believer in sticking to the one essential rule of crashing at somebody’s place: sleep on the couch. Otherwise, it’s not crashing, in my opinion.

Driving Back to Los Angeles

I had a blast while I was there, and even got to eat breakfast with a high school friend who was in the area before I drove back to Los Angeles. The drive back to Los Angeles wasn’t that eventful, except for driving past the gigantic stink bomb that is Harris Ranch again. I did listen to the radio call of the second game between the Giants and the Rangers while I was driving back, and since I don’t get to hear Jon Miller call the Rangers that often, I listened to the Giants broadcast most of the time. Unfortunately, bad Rangers showed up to that game, and they lost 5-2.

I got back home at 6:00 pm, and decided I did not want to drive for a while. After all, I drove over 340 miles and took two train rides to go see my favorite team play in one of the most gorgeous ballparks in the league. Would I have stayed to watch all three games? In an ideal world, I probably would have. But for now, I am content with seeing one interleague game between the Giants and the Rangers. Thankfully the outcome was much nicer than it was a couple years ago.

I hope you all have enjoyed my really long blog post about my road trip to the Bay Area. It’s something I won’t ever forget.

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