Thursday, February 28, 2008

Baseball On The Radio!

Today marks the first radio broadcast of Giants baseball from spring training. One of the greatest joys of winter is listening to the first game. Oh, what a day. Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Evolution of Ballpark Beer

I had my first beer was when I was 17. It was in the left field bleachers at the Oakland Coliseum. It was Old Milwaukee. It came in what was known as a bucket, with a perforated lid that you could poke holes in to pour. Small plastic cups came with a bucket so it could be shared with other people. I think it was 32 oz. Old Milwaukee? Yuck! It was the A's cheap beer.

The Giants had Hamms as their cheap beer. Equally yucky. It came in those wax cups, which made it especially urgent to drink. The wax/paper combo would get soggy, and if you nursed your beer for more than four innings, the bottom would melt out, spilling all the beer. The cheap beers would get flat fast, so you had to drink them in a hurry. All this was in the early 80's.

The mid 80's saw a change in cheap beers. Now it was Bud or Miller. Plastic souvenir cups also came on the scene, so a beer could be free from that waxy taste. The 90's saw a greater availability of microbrews and specialty beers. Now in the 00's, you pretty much got yer pick. You pay, though. My ballpark favorite is the Lagunitas IPA on tap at PacBell/SBC/AT&T/Oprah Magazine Park. Hoppy & yummy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How To Heckle - Getting Started

The first thing you need to start heckling is a voice. A loud voice. Yell. Yell loud. You will lose your voice before the end of the game, but over time you'll hopefully learn to pace yourself and yell "from the diaphragm" (just like singing) and maximize the decibels of sound to strain on the vocal chords ratio. A well trained bleacher bum yelling voice can yield nine innings per game of yelling over a 162 game season. Maybe a few days off for a bad cold, etc., just like being a player.

The best phrases to start with are, "You suck!" and "You're a bum!" These are standard and most people will laugh at least a little bit at these. It's best to use an identifier, like the player's name or uniform number. "Hey, Smith. You're a bum!" or "Hey, 39, you're a bum!"

Friday, February 22, 2008

How To Heckle - An Online Blog Tutorial Series

I've decided to take all my favorite heckling sayings, subjects and methods and turn them into a tutorial. Learn for yourself how to heckle and what to say while doing it. But whatever you do, don't try this at home. Take it to the ballpark.

More to follow soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over

1985 was the worst season in Giants franchise history. Attendance had declined to near nothing and owner Bob Lurie, who was frustrated at the failure of the city of San Francisco to either build him a new ballpark or renovate the 'Stick, declared that Candlestick Park was not fit for baseball and that the Giants would not play there in 1986. Whether this meant an attempt to play at the Oakland Coliseum or to move the team to another city, nobody knew. What it did mean was that the last game that year would be the last game at Candlestick ever.

Kevin , Louie and I were at that last game. The Giants lost their 100th game of the year that day, and I bought the last hot dog ever sold (read the story here) just after the game. We decided that we would stay as long as we could; until we were kicked out of the stadium. People left, and the security did their sweep of the stands, just ahead of the cleaning crew. They started in left field and swept around the staduim toward right. We were told to leave, so we went down to the right field corner to buy some more time. We were told to leave again. So we headed up to the upper deck. Since attendance was so small that year the centerfield stands were essentially blocked off. But a gate held loosely with a chain and lock had a bit too much slack on the chain. So we slipped through and made our way to the upper deck in centerfield and hid in a tunnel. This particular tunnel had a crawlspace access in it, so when the security crew looked down the tunnel, he couldn't see us.

We watched the cleanup and the grounds crew water the field, then leave. We were the only ones left. We made it down to the field, ran around the bases and went into the dugout. We each used the toilet in the dugout. After our fun, we decided to leave. But we encountered a problem. All the exits were closed and locked. Oh, no. So we started trying to open doors to ticket windows and equipment rooms. We found one door unlocked. It was to a small empty room. This room had a light bulb in the ceiling with a chain. It was on. There was a rear door that led out of the park. We sang, "Turn out the lights, the party's over" as we exited. Yes, we locked the door behind us and turned out the light. Of course the Giants played at Candlestick in 1986.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Giants Fan Fest

Our family attended the Giants Fan Fest on Saturday at AT&T Park. It was free, so we thought we'd go. The kids love taking the trains to the game. First, BART, our rapid transit system. Then we transfer to MUNI, San Francisco's transit system, to a subway train that daylights to surface streets along the Embarcadero on San Francisco Bay. It's a beautiful ride. We took our little one in a stroller, which turned out to be a challenge with all the stairs and steps in the clubhouse and dugout. The only way out for us was up from the field to the main concourse through the stands. A kind man helped me carry the stroller up.

All in all, it was kind of a cattle herd. A line formed for what was called a "self-guided tour" of the clubhouse and dugout. It was not. It was guided by the employees who urged us to keep moving. There was a constant stream of people with little time or space for taking photos. The field was covered a foot deep in dirt from a recent tractor pull. It ruined the whole charm of seeing a diamond prior to the season. Our friend Shelly tells of fan fests in years past, but wasn't able to attend this year. Would we go again? I don't know. The best thing about it was an excuse to get out of the house and see the ballpark.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fifty Years, Forty Years

This year celebrates the Giants' fifty years in San Francisco. The team moved here in 1958. This means that the A's, who moved here in 1968, have been here forty years. A quick recap of each team's performance over such a time period will prove noteworthy.

The Giants are the winningest team in baseball history. They've been around longer than the Yankees (who have the highest winning percentage ever), and have the second highest winning percentage ever, and first in the NL. Yet they haven't won a World Series here in SF. How can the winningest team ever go over fifty years without winning a championship? They had the best record in baseball during the 60's, winning over 900 games (that's an average of over 90 wins per season for ten years!), yet could only tie for one pennant after a miracle. During the Bonds era, the Giants had the third best winning percentage in baseball, behind the Braves and Yankees, yet no rings.

The A's, on the other hand, have won four World Series since moving here. They have endured one of the most hated owners ever, a bad color combination for fashion, a terrible football stadium remodel, no fans, yet they're one of the most succesful teams in baseball since moving here.

The Giants have had some of the greatest sluggers ever to play for them, including three hall of famers in successive slots in the batting order. Mays, McCovey, Cepeda. No rings. The A's have succeeded mostly on pitching. Four rings. The teams have been as different as night and day, which is great for Bay Area baseball.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Will Pete Be Happy?

Pedro Feliz (aka Pete Happy as translated into English) has signed with the Phillies. Although Citizens Bank Park is a hitter's park and AT&T a pitcher's park, Feliz' pending increase in offense might more than be offset by Phillies fans and their relentless heckling of their own players. Feliz is a decent player, but has more than one flaw. Chasing that outside breaking ball that the Giants were never able to cure will be headline news in Philly.