Oakland

Our 2013 baseball trip was originally going to be seeing the Twins play the Rangers in Texas. But then some friends scheduled their wedding that weekend, so we had to come up with an alternate plan.

We decided on Oakland. Flights were cheaper and more convenient for us to fly into San Francisco, but we decided to stay at a hotel in Oakland. Our friends were decidedly vocal about that decision:

“You’re staying in Oakland instead of San Fran?!? Why would you do that?!? Do you want to get murdered?!?”

I mean, yeah, Oakland was a little rough; I won’t lie. Seeing miles of crumbling buildings covered with graffiti from the view of the BART was a little unsettling, but whatever. I live four blocks from a site where two murders happened in two days, yo.

Because of our flight schedule, we got to our first baseball game a little late. As Jason and I wandered the bleak, confining confines of the cemented O.co Coliseum and looked around at the shuttered vendor stations, I thought, “What a dump.” It totally reminded me of the Metrodome, another mixed-use stadium formerly used for baseball and football that felt like a concrete coffin.

Unlike nearly all of our other trips, there were very few Twins fans there. I’ll assume it’s because the Twins were awful this year and no one else wanted to be associated with them.

The Oakland fans were fantastic, though. I attribute it to the fact that the Twins presented them with four wins, hastening their arrival to the playoffs, but for whatever reason, people were more than happy to chat with us (almost everyone we talked to knew someone from Minnesota).

Normally, we try to take a stadium tour, but for some reason, they weren’t offering tours this year. I guess we’ll go on the tour the next time we’re in Oakland, say, around the 15th of Never.

Since we had a day to fill with something other than baseball games, we deviated from our normal Baseball Trip Protocol and did something outside our chosen city: we decided to spend an afternoon in San Francisco. As I rattled off our BART route (Coliseum station to Embarcadero station), Jason said, “How can you navigate areas you’ve never been to before, but you still need your GPS when you go get your hair cut?” (I did make 2 mistakes when it came to the BART, though. One was not realizing that it didn’t open until 8 a.m. on Sundays, necessitating a $100 cab ride to the airport to make our flight home on time, and the other was accidentally going through the turnstiles at our first transfer station instead of just waiting for the next train. Jason: “How come you didn’t know that?” Me: “Oh, you’re right, I should’ve remembered that from the last ZERO TIMES I’ve ridden the BART!” Silly arguments: every trip has one!)

I told Jason I wanted to see Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf, and he agreed. (Side note: I am still furious, furious that Fox canceled Alcatraz. If you think I am being silly, then you should know I still haven’t forgiven ABC for canceling FlashForward. When it comes to canceling television shows I love, I never forgive — and never forget.)

Anyway, we planned on visiting Alcatraz and I was giddy. “I’m super jazzed for Alcatraz!” I’d trill often, waving my hands for emphasis. “Oh my God,” Jason would say. “Please stop doing that.”

But I was super jazzed for Alcatraz. And the tour was just as awesome as my expectations.

Just look at it! Mystery! Intrigue! Criminals! Awesome location/plotline for a great TV show to feature a kick-ass heroine who gets stabbed during what would end up being the last episode thanks to stupid TV execs canceling the show, leaving me to wonder in agonizing, unresolved confusion: DID SHE DIE OR NOT, FOX?

It was very windy on the ferry. But refreshing. Any time I attempted to sing-song, “I’m super jazz-” Jason would cut me off, saying, “NO.” (I’d finish the rest under my breath: “-ed for Alcatraz.” heh heh)

Inside, it was kind of spooky. The audio tour was great, narrated by former inmates and guards, pointing out the tiniest details: “And those pock marks on the floors were caused by gunfire during the men’s escape attempt.” The cells were tiny. God forbid if you were a criminal taller than six feet:

Mmm…steamed heat scrambled eggs.

The whole trip was interesting. There were a number of areas off-limits, either due to restoration efforts or because of the nesting bird areas. At one point, a ginormous gray bird waddled past us and Jason said, “That bird has no neck.” And it didn’t; it looked like a feathered snowman, its head just plopped on top of its body.

After the tour, we wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf. I could’ve watched and listened to these crazy-cute things ARR-ARR-ARRing all day:

There were two giant sea lions fighting for the right to sit underneath the Pier 39 sign. They’d wrestle and push and bite at each other, and when one finally succeeded in pushing his opponent off the dock, the whole crowd cheered and applauded.

Our second baseball game was much better than our first. It was on a Friday night, so the crowd was larger and all of the vendors were open. Plus, it was inexplicably Star Wars night:

Boba Fett threw out the first pitch, and there were a LOT of people dressed up in Star Wars costumes. It was surreal.

We sat next to a guy with his adult kids who made it his mission to make us feel welcome. First, he shared his peanut M&Ms with us (Jason: I love this guy!), then his bag of BBQ kettle chips (Me: Now I love this guy!). He chatted with us the whole game and was just so nice and friendly. Long story short, we’re now Facebook friends.

It was also fireworks night, and the Oakland A’s allowed people to sit on the field after the game. (At the sight of hundreds of people laying their blankets on the field, I said, “Oh, God. The Twins groundskeeper would have a heart attack if people did this at Target Field.”) When the lights finally went out, dozens of little kids turned on their light sabers.

Our third game had a rain delay. I forgot to pack our rain ponchos, so we were temporarily forced to wear enemy uniforms:

But once the game started, the sun came out:

The Twins played abominably, but the A’s fans were so nice. After we committed our 4th error during one game, one guy patted me on the shoulder and said sincerely, “Ugh, sorry.”

We had a wonderful time. Such a wonderful time, in fact, that we decided next year’s trip will be to San Francisco. Which is nice, because we didn’t get a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge from land because it was too foggy, but I got an OK one from the plane:

See ya next year, California.

There’s a red moon rising on the Cuyahoga River

We took our annual Twins baseball trip to Cleveland this year. Everything I knew previously about Cleveland was gleaned from the movie Major League and this hilarious (fake) tourism video (NSFW):

(Sidenote: My favorite part is the reference to “Who the f@#k still uses a payphone?” because back when I had my crappy commute, I was once stuck in a horrific traffic jam and tried to call Jason. Instead, my phone informed me that no outgoing calls were permitted unless it was an emergency. When I finally got home very, very late, Jason was mad that I didn’t call. When I told him about my phone, he sniped, “You could’ve used a pay phone.” To which I said, “Do they even HAVE those anymore?” Anyway, the moral of the story is that T-Mobile was entirely to blame.)

Continue reading

America’s pastime: Being rude at baseball games

(I wasn’t going to write about this, because it happened nearly a week ago, but here we are, six days later, and it’s still bugging me, and I’ve got a million work-related deadlines and can’t even begin to think of anything else to write, so I’m going to launch this tirade like a wobbly milk carton boat.)

Last Friday, Jason and I took off from work early because there was a bobblehead giveaway at the Twins game. It was this bobblehead, specifically. Which, for me personally, is the best bobblehead ever, because I remember watching that game and thinking the Twins got very, very lucky with that call (made nearly 20 years ago, oh my god). (Never mind the sad fact that it has been nearly 20 years since the Twins were in the World Series.)

Anyway, they were only giving away 10,000 bobbleheads, and Target Field holds more than 40,000 people and almost always sells out, and we were playing the White Sox that night so there’d be some Chicagoans honing in on the giveaway action, so we figured we’d get there early.

Like, really early.

We got there at 12:30 p.m. The game started at 7:00. The doors didn’t open until 5:00.

Why yes, we are crazy! How did you know?

A couple of our friends had gotten there before us and were literally 10th in line. There were maybe 20 people total waiting at our gate, so we stopped briefly to chat with our friends, and then, because I’m not morally capable of doing a “chat & cut” ala Curb Your Enthusiasm, I told Jason I wasn’t cutting. So we went to the end of the line.

Which looked like this:

Photobucket

Everything was fine for the first few hours or so. More people arrived and obediently tacked themselves onto the end of the line. But then Jason left to go talk to our friends and take a walk around the stadium. And four guys immediately sidled into the spot he had left, even though there were maybe only 20 people behind me.

So now the line looked like this:

Photobucket

As I sat on the ground staring at them incredulously, thinking, “Are you effing serious?” the four men debated whether this was a good place to stand (no), whether they should move (yes), and whether the fence directly across from the gate entrance is where they should go (definitely not). Right as I opened my mouth to say something, they ambled off in the opposite direction, presumably to be jerks elsewhere.

That’s when I realized that this was going to turn ugly. By 4:00, humanity’s true colors began to show. More people were arriving, and even though they could clearly see the line, dozens and dozens of them decided they would form their own line. How stupid we were, the people standing in line! Ha! Clearly, we could just push in front of others because common decency is no longer an important facet of a functioning society!

Whenever anyone managed to flag down the (always-rushing-in-a-different-direction) ushers or security guards to complain, they were met with vague shrugs.

Meanwhile, I (not surprisingly) was starting to seethe. I wasn’t afraid of not getting a bobblehead – I knew we were still going to be one of the first 75 people, but I am the type of person who would rather die than inconvenience anyone else. (Case in point: if I am driving and cannot get over to an exit in time, I will drive to the next exit rather than cut someone else off. True story.) And yet scores of people were purposely cutting in front of people who had been there for hours. HOURS.

So now the line looked like this:

Photobucket

When the gates opened, our (legitimate) line started moving as fast as possible in the hopes of boxing out the interlopers. But they were a surly bunch and started shoving their way to the front. Right before we got in, Jason put his arm in front of a guy, holding him back, and said, “Hey! You don’t belong up here. Go to the back.” And the guy, whom we watched step off the light rail not even 5 minutes earlier claimed, “I’ve been standing here for hours!” No remorse, no apology, no sheepishly leaving like the 15-year-old kid we all called out earlier and shamed into doing the right thing. Instead this guy acted like we were insane for caring about such a trivial matter. He puffed himself up and denied everything – until about 10 other people behind us started yelling at him. Then he shut up and played dumb by whining, “Where do you expect me to go?” like the whole concept was utterly confusing to him.

To be honest, I was kind of hoping for him to touch me, or try to push me out of the way, or shove Jason, because I was dying for someone who deserved it to get punched, and he seemed like a fine candidate. But I think he felt so chagrined at getting caught and yelled at by numerous people that he just kind of slunk to his seat with his ill-gotten bobblehead. Jerk.

Target Field really needs to fix this problem, which I propose could be solved easily by doing this:

Photobucket

Or, even more effectively, by implementing this:

Photobucket

Or, as a cheaper alternative, just letting me punch people in the face who try to cut in line.

I feel it says a lot about a person if they cut in line. What do you think?

masthead #59 – baseball game

Photobucket

So…the Minnesota Twins seem like they’re not going to win the division this year. I’ll still cheer for them, naturally, but do you guys have any suggestions for other teams I should root for? I’ll take all teams under consideration except for the Yankees and the White Sox.