“The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don’t know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired.”Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
Keke and I woke early and departed the Super 8 Boardwalk via car for a walk on the beach in Santa Cruz. If you get there early enough, you can park on the pier for free. We walk for a while first, then she took off for a run back down the beach and I took my sandals off to walk in the surf. The water here is quite cold, but if feels good to feel the sand and the water. So much of our environment is unnatural now that I think it’s good to reconnect with nature. I think people call this grounding and some have connected it to health benefits. I don’t know if any of that is true, but I know it feels like a good thing to do.
Eventually, Keke and I met up again and headed back to the hotel for breakfast. The front desk guy is super excited when he learns of our trip. He is tatted up and has a California surfer vibe. He has a pleasant joy about him that made our conversation fun. His 12 year old son is obsessed with baseball and he says he’ll love our story. I hope they’ll get to experience something like we are doing, because I am loving this time with my son as I am sure he would with his.
After a slow morning, we pack up and head up the One. It’s game day today; Reds vs. A’s in Oakland. It also happens to be a 12:30pm PST game, so our dillydallying is not helping us. Route 1 takes longer than the Interstates, but it is worth it. We have to be smart and make sure we can make good enough time and still take in the beauty. Doing so is well worth it, because Route One may be the prettiest road I’ve ever been on (we drive a lot, so that’s saying something).
Keke hunts for tickets and advance parking while we drive. She has become a pro at this, and finds $30 parking for $25, and scores four tickets for $10 a piece – all on Stubhub.
I like that Oakland has a large parking area around the stadium. This not only is easier, but also seems safer. For the first time since Atlanta (and it was minimal then), I noticed some tailgating. We don’t do that well in Minnesota as, like many other stadiums, our park in jammed into a downtown with little to no surface parking available, but I have loved seeing it at the stadiums that allow it.
I thought I would see tailgating all over Dodger Stadium the previous game as they also have a large surface parking space, but they basically banned it (if not directly, by banning alcohol). We park near a group of guys blasting hip hop music, enjoying some beers, and grilling. These guys looked like they were having the most fun that could possibly be had in the world at that moment.
Another thing that I noticed about the parking in Oakland is that the idea of directing people seemed to be non-existent. Normally, when entering a big surface-level stadium lot, you have significant direction to your spot so every spot is taken and they don’t underpark the lot. There was no direction here, although that could have been because we arrived a bit late, or it could have been because the lot was not going to be remotely full.
The staff, as we walked into the stadium, (and throughout the day) could not have been more friendly. The stadium is old, and kind of reminded us of the Metrodome if there was no roof. I thought I heard an announced crowd of around 19k, but I question that as this may have been the quietest game we have been to yet. The quiet also takes into account the fact that the majority of the crowd seemed to be kids on field trips.
The hunt for local beer was only moderately successful as we settled on a Lagunitas “A Little Sumpin Sumpin.” They are California born, although now wholly owned by Heineken. The gal we talked to mentioned that they didn’t have an Oakland-based brewery at the present time. She also described the Lagunitas as sparkly, which led us to think it was lighter and maybe fruity. We didn’t find it as such. Lagunitas describes it as “a strong hop finish with a wheaty body.” That seems more appropriate.
Food-wise, there were a number of options, but the fare seemed far more basic than other stadiums. We did find the Brown Sugar Kitchen booth and really liked their BSK Mac N’ Cheese. We weren’t as into the Coliseum Classics. The hotdog had a stale bun, and the cheeseburger had a different taste. We’d recommend Brown Sugar Kitchen if your heading there as they has a number of other options that looked really good.
Oakland has put in a couple of new themes recently, with the Treehouse in left field and the Stompin Ground in right. The Treehouse was a well-designed bar-type area with ping-pong and foosball tables. We found this to be a popular spot among the non-school aged crowd. The Stompin Ground is a kids area with all kinds of things for kids to do. Keke and I opted to not bring Soren here as the ballpark views from here aren’t the best.
We sat upper deck behind home plate, which is becoming our spot. The game itself was fairly slow, with the Reds winning in the end. I was excited to see Oakland third baseman Max Chapman, but was very disappointed, when Oakland’s Khris Davis and the Red’s Joey Votto didn’t play; they are both elite. A fun fact about Khris Davis, he has hit exactly .247 each of the last four years in a row. That is pretty amazing, and in the meantime he crushes homers so much he’s been nicknamed Khrush.
All things considered, we had a great time as we always do. After the game we headed to our hotel (Ramada South San Francisco). A fun fact about the Bay Bridge, it’s free to leave San Francisco, but not free to leave Oakland. That $7 toll was our highest to date. Dinner was at BJ’s Brewhouse, which had a 40 minute wait at 5:45 pm on a Thursday; popular place. It’s priced like a Cheesecake Factory, not super expensive, but also not cheap. We took advantage of happy hour pricing on apps and that helped significantly.
After dinner we had to drop my mom off at the airport and say goodbye. It’s been great having her here, and we’ll miss her.
To bed, to rest our head after a great day in the Bay.