The tour began in Cincinnati for the Opening Day. Then it came home to Kansas City and over to St. Louis for the home openers in the two ballparks where I feel home. Then the tour took me east to west across the southern part of the country for what I called The Smorgasbord Tour: Atlanta, Arlington, Houston, Arizona and San Diego.
Exploring each of these ballparks, talking with the fan base, experiencing the traditions and taking in the the atmosphere, have sparked some significant conversations and with each visit, I find that the book I am working on is slowly being framed in new ways.
Opening Day was so full of hope; visiting my “home” ballparks was an exercise in self-discovery which then spilled over into Atlanta, Arlington and Houston. Arizona sparked the the concept of conversion, and the green space in San Diego began planting thoughts of creation and Creator, gardens and Gardener.
And after two weeks back home, it’s time for the fourth phase of my ballpark tour…
The West Coast.
Tomorrow evening, my wife and I depart for Los Angeles, then on to Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco.
Here’s the list of ballparks, games and probable pitching matchups I’ll be seeing this week…*
- 5/8 – San Francisco @ LA Dodgers (Vogelsong vs Beckett)
- 5/9 – Kansas City @ Seattle (Vargas vs Maurer)
- 5/10 – Washington @ Oakland (Roark vs Gray)
- 5/12 – Atlanta @ San Francisco (Harang vs Lincecum)
* – Originally, I had the Angels on my list for tomorrow night, but a flight mix up is getting me to Los Angeles a few hours later than I had planned. Thankfully, my sister-in-law graduates from UCLA in mid-June and I’ll be back in the area to catch the Halos then. Phew.
Lots to love in this lineup.
First of all, and this is no offense to those I’ve already visited, but I think the ballparks are about to up their game immensely.
Dodger Stadium is the oldest ballpark not named Wrigley or Fenway.
Safeco Field is one of the more intriguing destinations. The roof is so unique, and Seattle just feels so far away.
I got to walk through AT&T park a couple winters ago. It was actually set up for a NCAA bowl game. Gorgeous views of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island, and the Coke bottle and giant glove beyond left field have served as my Facebook banner ever since (image above).
And then there’s Oakland.
O.Co Coliseum is widely understood to be the worst ballpark in the MLB. The sewers backup in the locker rooms a few times a season. It’s one of the last football-convertible ballparks around, and the giant moveable grandstands in center field – known as Mount Davis, named after the late Raiders’ owner Al Davis – is a complete eye sore. The foul territory is enormous and pretty much anywhere you sit places you way too far away from the action.
However, I’m excited to see Sonny Gray in person. He was just tabbed as the AL Pitcher of the Month for April. He’s 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA so far this season. If the same Nationals team shows up in Oakland that did (or didn’t) in Atlanta, it should be a fun game to cheer for the home team.
I get to see the Royals play again. This time in Seattle and this time it’s Vargas instead if Ventura. Bummed it’s not King Felix too. Can’t win em all.
When Clayton Kershaw was making his comeback from injury, it started to look like he was going to get his first start back around this week. Instead, it’s tonight, and we’ll see Josh Beckett instead against Vogelsong. Still should be a solid matchup, but honestly, the mystique and excitement of seeing a game at the Chavez Ravine makes the game itself less crucial. However, If Yasiel Puig isn’t back from his encounter with the outfield wall by Thursday, I’ll be pretty bummed.
Finally, the marquee matchup of this week: Aaron Harang versus Tim Lincecum. Harang has been phenomenal – he threw 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 run when I saw him in ATL. Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young winner, hasn’t been great yet this year, and it’s probably his haircut that’s the issue. Really excited about this one.
Get ready for another series of ballpark posts from out west…and probably prepare for some late night ball game live-tweeting too.