April 18, 2010

First road trip of the season

The Angels headed east this past week and Cheryl and I headed south. That’s right we weren't going to be outdone – even though our team was out of town, we still managed to get some baseball in. We headed down to Petco Park in San Diego to see the Padres host the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Now, we’re die hard fans; however, our trip wasn’t motivated by our love of baseball. No sir, we headed off to Petco Park for our love for a former Angel player; David Eckstein. Oh yeah, and it also happened to be David Eckstein Bobble Head night.

More than 9,000 little leaguers took the field before the game and when the Padres came to bat in the bottom of the first inning, we thought for a moment one had snuck back on to the field. We then realized that was no little leaguer; that was Eckstein hitting second. Hey, you can’t expect me to blog about Eckstein without at least one comment like that, right?

Well it appears some things never change. In his first at bat, Eckstein took one in the side as he was hit by a pitch. Same old David; he was doing whatever it takes to get on base.

It’s clear the fans in San Diego have taken to old number 22 and why not? Eckstein still plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. And we spotted him signing autographs for fans before the game; just like he did every night during his career in Anaheim.

Eckstein and the Padres are a great fit. Eckstein is one of the most fan friendly baseball players you will ever see in a uniform and Petco Park is one of the most fan friendly parks you will ever visit.

We love visiting the park as often as we can; and used to make an annual trip to San Diego during Eckstein’s years in St. Louis. We’ve come to appreciate Petco Park a great deal. The people who work there are some of the friendliest you will ever meet. They’re great about making sure you enjoy your visit. There are ushers stationed at the top of every aisle and they hold up signs when there’s action on the field asking fans to be considerate and wait until a player has finished his at-bat.

They have a mascot and I think ball parks with mascots are simply cool. Little kids love them and they add a fun dimension to the environment. The Padres also had a guy roaming the stadium who served as sort of an in-the-stadium-correspondent. He would come on at various times (via their huge video screen) to put on contests or interview fans. It’s kind of a nice touch that makes the game very interactive at times.

The food is always great there and they serve Oggi’s pizza, which is one of our favorites. We also like picking up a bag of their roasted nuts. You can also count on the workers thanking you when you leave the stadium. It’s just a great family environment and it has a hometown feel.

The game was a lot of fun. Kevin Correia combined with four other pitchers for a 5-0 shut out of the D-Backs. Eckstein was 1 for 4 (plus the hit by pitch) and Nick Hundley hit a solo homerun, while going 3 for 4 with three RBI.

Prior to start of the game, Adrian Gonzalez received his 2009 Gold Glove Award. He nearly had to give it back after bobbling a ground ball shortly after in the first inning, but recovered to make the out and thus kept his Gold Glove. I’m just saying it was almost an ironic moment.

The game also marked the 2010 debut of Kris Benson, who was making his way back from injury. Seeing Benson at Petco wasn’t a first for us. We saw him on August 10, 2005 when he pitched for the New York Mets. That night, the Mets beat the Padres 9-1. It was vintage Benson who only gave up three hits in 8.1 innings. None of the Padres who were in the lineup for that game are still with the team; however, three of the Mets (David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes) who played that night are still with the Mets.

One funny site at the game Saturday night appeared in a window from a high rise building beyond the stadium in center field. Someone put up some lights that read D-Back in red. Again, it was nice to be at a ball park, while our team was out of town.

That being said, we are looking forward to the Angels coming back home tomorrow, fresh off their three game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Angels have a ten game home stand with the Tigers, Yankees and Indians coming to town.

Stay tuned (I also hope to recap the week tomorrow – a day late).

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

  1. You are not alone in your adoration of David Eckstein. I met him in 1998 when he stayed with me for 6 weeks to play fall ball and a greater person can not be found. I have followed his career closely and am totally jealous thay you have his bobblehead and I don't! There was just no way I could get to San Diego from the east coast to get the prize. Go David!!