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Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Okay, so the Giants built Pacific Bell Park because it was so cold at Candlestick Park that no one wanted to buy tickets and sit there watching a game for three hours on a Tuesday night in May, or any other time. Well, they managed to fill the new park tonight, even though it was as cold as the 'Stick ever was in the frosty month of July in San Francisco.

Ah, but we were at a baseball game, with a congenial bunch of people determined to have fun. There are so few tickets available for the rest of the season that we have to grab every chance to see a game. The crowds at Candlestick the last few years were small but rowdy. The crowds at Pacific Bell Park are much more genteel and upscale, and so far this season they've been noticeably quieter. Even Dusty Baker, the Giants' manager, has asked the people coming to watch the team to help them out by making more noise.

Of course, the fact that the team has played second-rate baseball at home hasn't inspired much enthusiasm from the paying fans. They've misplayed balls, and their pitchers have been walking too many hitters, which slows the game to a deadly pace. Mostly, the Giants haven't been hitting the ball or producing runs, giving the fans little to cheer about.

Tonight it seemed different, more like the atmosphere I'm used to from the Candlestick days. Maybe it was the weather, and maybe it was the crisply played game, in which the Giants beat the Mets, 7-1. A well-played game with good pitching and defense, and timely hitting, is a pleasure to watch, and it brings the crowd into it.

Oh, man, was it cold, though.

I met Eric at his house after work, and he drove us to Larkspur to catch the ferry to the City. We met his friends from the software company there. I'd never met them before, and I wasn't sure what I was in for. They're a pretty twisted bunch, and I enjoyed their banter. I could tell they spend a lot of time together and take pleasure in each other's company. When the subject was baseball, I could fit in pretty well. When they drifted toward office politics, I just listened and laughed.

There were some big swells on the Bay, giving us a hint of the blustery conditions we were in for all night. It's about a twenty-minute walk from the San Francisco ferry building to the ballpark. We thought we might take the bus or trolley, but after waiting a few minutes with no sign of Muni, we decided to take the walk on Herb Caen Way. It's a pleasant stroll, and we had plenty of time anyway.

We sat in the left field bleachers, an appropriate spot for such a boisterous bunch. Here's our view of the field, before the game when the stands hadn't filled in yet:

And here's the famous (someday) right field wall:

The ferry ride home in the dark was a long, cold ordeal, mitigated by the good company. It was a short game, about two and a half hours, but it was still midnight by the time I got home. Tired and cold, but happy for the experience. It'll be a few weeks before I get another chance to see a game, so I savored every moment of this one.

Did I mention it was cold?

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