San Francisco would be a great city if it wasn't full of Giants fans.
So says my wife, Griffster. Two years ago we saw a Dodger game in San Francisco. It was in September, with the Dodgers pretending to contend, 5 or so games back of the 0.500 Padres. I believe the Giants were near the Dodgers in the standings, both teams a Padre collapse away from winning the 2005 NL west crown at 10 games below 0.500. What a gruesome year.
Fortunately, I guess, the Padres didn't collapse, and they limped into the playoffs that year at 82-80 or something like that. So the particular Giants-Dodgers tilt we saw never really meant anything in the bigger picture, though I suppose there was the illusion that it did at the time. I remember Oscar Robles hitting a home run to give the Dodgers an early lead. That may be the most surprising thing I've ever seen at a baseball game. Perhaps the least surprising things I've ever seen was Barry Bonds dunking a ball into the cove to extend the Giant lead to 5-3. That was the score at which the game ended.
That home run was bloody impressive. It happened so fast. He just turned on it and lined it over the wall into the water, the way a normal hitter might line out to first base or something. This was 2005, the year Barry missed most of the first four months or so, so I guess he wasn't quite at the height of his powers as he had been from 2000-2004, but man he was for that at bat. I don't like Barry, but I'm not sorry to have seen that home run. ( Not that I wanted to see it at the time! ) I think it's quite a privilege to say that you once saw Barry hit one into the water.
I just checked the Giants' website, and indeed they credit Barry with a Splash Hit on September 18, 2005. That was his only splash hit of 2005. I had no memory of the pitcher who gave it up, by the way. His name? Hong-Chih Kuo.
Griffster and I are driving up to San Francisco tomorrow, and we'll be seeing the Friday and Saturday games at the ballpark by the bay. I can't even figure out who the Dodger starters will be, as Billingsley is listed for both Friday and Saturday. I had heard that Lincecum might pitch Friday, but now Cain is listed. I think a matchup of Billingsley and Cain would be awesome to see. I would also love to see the young phenom Lincecum pitch in one of the two games. I'm reasonably sure the Dodger starters will be some pair from Lowe, Penny, and Billingsley, so I'm not worried about seeing a dud Dodgers pitcher.
It wasn't easy to come by our tickets at face value price. Getting tickets to a high-demand Giants game is no easy thing. I was online trying to get these tickets the very first minute online sales were open to Visa card holders. I could never get through at first, though. I kept getting put in this virtual queue, and when I would break out of the wait screen and impatiently try to reload I would just get right back in this queue. Once I got to step two of the process only to be put in another virtual queue! Buying Dodger tickets is much easier. But I kept at it, even after the Yankee games and A's games on the Giant schedule had sold out, and finally got the tickets I wanted. I figure I got some of the last seats, just ahead of some poor Giants fan who wanted them!
I'm excited about seeing Loney play in person, though I'd like to note that while he's still hitting well, and now even drawing lots of walks, he's gone 12 games without an extra-base hit. I hope reverses this trend and hits one into the water!
Loney has some incredible bat control. In the Saturday game of the Marlins series, he had an incredible at bat against Sergio Mitre with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Mitre had this nasty sinking pitch going, and he was working it beautifully to Loney. First one Loney swung and missed, completely flummoxed. Second one, Loney gets a little piece of, but still he just has no chance with this pitch. "Take it for a ball!" I mutter to his image on the screen. Then I wonder what sort of pitch Mitre will come back with, and decide that he really ought to come back with the exact same thing, since Loney obviously will swing right over it if he swings, with the worst case for Mitre being if Loney takes it for a ball.
Well, Mitre does come right back with the wicked sinking pitch, but Loney reaches down for it and makes solid square contact, flinging a rope hit into center field. I couldn't believe it. What a great adjustment that was, and what discipline to not be too eager on the swing and get ahead of the ball and foul it off again. I was seriously impressed with this hit.
Yeah, it's going to be fun. Loney, Bonds, maybe some great young pitchers, Kemp!, the cove, hostile Giants fans ... Yep, road trip.