I’m listening to the game now, just getting onto 805 North. It’s the top of the 16th. Technically, I didn’t see the Padres win that game. It was 9-9 when we left.
Saturday was my first game at Petco. My buddy got tickets from his work - 20 rows back, just to the first-base side of home plate. They were the best seats I’ve ever had at a sporting event that I wasn't working at or reporting on. We sat behind a guy with designer glasses frames, a silk designer shirt, drinking a designer mixed drink. In a small plastic cup. His wife was in her mid-40s. She had had a boob job at some point in her life (probably recently). When I yelled “Bush league” after a play, she made a W joke. She had voted for him.
David Ross flies out to center. Still knotted at nine.
At that point I wished I had some more real people in those expensive, season-ticket-holder seats surrounding me. When Ryan Freel came up, I yelled “Farney” as loud as I could. I explained it to my friend, who’s not that in-tune with things of that nature. Nobody knew what I was talking about. Every time Bronson Arroyo came to bat, I screamed out loud about the horrid, putrid nature of his music, and how it made me want to torture puppies. Again, I explained it to my friend. Some people around me laughed, but they didn’t know what was going on. Ken Griffey Jr. received a "60 16-pound boxes of pennies?!?" cry. I received empty, strange stares.
Aaron Harang just struck out his ninth in relief, Kevin Kouzmonoff on a check-swing. We go to 17.
The Padres looked horrible. There were at least three guys in the starting lineup that should not be paid to hit major-league pitching. Catcher Luke Carlin, recently called up to replace the injured Josh Bard, could not summon anything positive from either his Jedi or comedian namesakes. He made a few bad throws and looked overwhelmed at the plate. Wil Ledezma has a live arm, but it’s a wire that sprays wildly around, electrocuting stray dogs. He grooved one to Joey Votto, who blasted it to the grotto in center. He drove in four. The next day, Sunday, against a right-hander, Votto will not start at first. Dusty Baker was suspended for Friday and Saturday’s games, but he was in charge on Sunday. I think those occurrences are not a coincidence.
If you had told me that I would see a game in which the Padres would hit four homers, and they would still lose, I would punch you in the throat, phone your mother, and call her a whore. But it might happen. Two outs in the top of the 17th, bases loaded, the immortal Paul Bako at the plate. Josh Banks on the bump. He’s young, and already in his fifth inning of work. There is an ominous feeling. The sky is blue, and a few clouds hang over the Pacific Coast. The ocean is infinite. Bako chases a high fastball. We go to the bottom of the seventeeth.
There are no beer or hot dog vendors at Petco. If you want David sunflower seeds, or an ice cream cookie sandwich, or cotton candy (the 40-something-year-old woman in front of me on Sunday happily and eagerly lapped up a stick of blue sugar, getting it disgustingly all over her lips, teeth and fingers. I’m all about doing what you want, but there should be limits, and that’s fucking one of them), or licorice rope, or pizza, or soda, you can get it from the vendor. If you want a $9 Stone or an $8.25 Coors Light or a fish taco, you better get your ass up and walk to the concourse. I do not approve of this. There’s a reason I’m carrying 20 extra pounds around my midsection. I like to sit, and I like to drink beer. Get your shit together, San Diego.
David Ross hits a long shot to left. Caught. We move to Camino Las Ramblas, and the bottom of the eighteenth. Gametime: 5 hours, 36 minutes.
I wanted to get inside the Western Metal Supply Company building, but apparently you must need a ticket. It’s guarded like Fort Knox, or the US-Mexico border. The pictures I take are from a distance - the people there, on the patios, look young. And rich. And drunk. Instead I go beyond the center field fence to the Tony Gwynn statue to take a picture. It is massive. I reach to touch the bat; just out of reach, I bare my pale stomach for all to see. Luckily, the teenage girls laying on the grass not but five feet away are fast asleep. Why pay to get into the game if you're just going to sleep? Or read? Sometimes, kicking people in the temple should be legal, if not encouraged.
The FM station fuzzes out. I search frantically for an AM station, and get it just as Scott Hairston steals second. It’s the first Padre in scoring position since the fourteenth. I wish I had a small bottle of whiskey and a coke.
It is Memorial Day, and nine heterosexual males are roaming slowly through Disneyland. Obviously, we are high. The muffins are good, and the rides are better. We are well represented, baseball-wise: I wear my Padres hat; another wears a Cardinals T-shirt; another a Tigers T-shirt; and finally, another a White Sox 2005 AL Champions T-Shirt. Sometimes we talk about sports, but mostly we walk silently, laugh at funny looking kids, wait in line for a while, then laugh our asses off on the actual rides. After the night is over, we head to the ESPNZone at California Adventure for what turns out to be an enjoyable meal. Fun fact: next to us is a big birthday party, and the final gift is a box of Ram golf clubs (the birthday boy didn't jump out of his chair). We all laugh when the person responsible for the gift reveals how proud they are of that fact.
Adrian Gonzalez, Professional Hitter, crushes a three-run, walkoff home run to center off Edinson Volquez. The Friars win 12-9 in 18, after 5:57 of play. I think, if my friend allows, I will partake in a victory cigarette. I may not have been there for the penultimate blast, but I was there. I saw a split. With this team, this year - I’ll take it.
There were fireworks after the Saturday night game, and I take some poetic license and add them to the end of this game, in my head. It is bright out, and the sun shines. However, I turn on my camera and cue up my favorite picture of center field on fire, retired numbers backlit and booming, and picture the Padres winning one, just for me.