The following is not a Guide entry, because I am still sifting through my notes on how one should best fully experience Petco Park in San Diego, which I will rapidly turn around for you because of the upcoming series.
The final regular season adventure and road trip of 2022: All things must pass
Three Wild Days and Nights in San Diego
As an author’s note, doing these write-ups for you this season has been a genuine treat. But it has not been all rainbows this season as I lost my stepfather shortly before the season began and I had to grapple with that and health issues most of the year. I did not expect that the worst news was yet to come.
September 9: Take the long way home, my son
This field report almost did not happen. The Friday before Labor Day I received word that my father was ill with the same illness that took my stepfather about six months ago. It was found sooner, maybe we will get an extended opportunity to say goodbye. That week of Labor Day before the trip, I spent with him helping him get his affairs in order and I felt guilty for keeping this trip as scheduled. I still feel guilty for going, even after getting permission to go from my father and my boss.
Thankfully, Mother Nature obliged my guilt by providing a nearby tropical storm that felt like agony on every joint in my body. Normally, I am quite annoyed when I get to the ballpark late as the Dodgers tend to do extremely poorly when I am not in my seat by the first pitch. Thankfully, the Rain Delay made it so that everyone was late and I was able to get to my seat in the upper deck with only moderate difficulty. Even though the rain would range from misting to sprinkling throughout the night, Freddie Freeman got the fireworks going early and Trayce Thompson kept things going.
Dustin May was like a wild stallion, his command was intermittent, his emotions plainly on his sleeve. He gave up a three-run bomb to light-hitting Trent Grisham, which sums up his night. Ultimately, it was an entertaining game, but the Padres walked off the Dodgers in the tenth inning.
September 10: The defeated bugbear
To this day, I will argue that Kevin Cash did not blunder in taking Blake Snell out of Game 6 of the 2020 World Series. His true error was relying on a gassed Nick Anderson. Snell probably should have faced Mookie Betts one more time as the top of the Dodgers lineup that night went 0-for-6, with 6 strikeouts. But a single bloop Barnes hit became an Avengers-level threat and that was that. So with Snell’s continued mastery of the Dodgers in the intervening time, it was a genuine treat to see the Dodgers knock Snell down a peg.
Before the game, I had purchased the ball that plunked Betts the night before. It now sits on my desk - forever in baseball jail. As to facing Snell, for the first part of the game, it seemed like the more things changed, the more they stay the same. With the game knotted at 1, Trea Turner came up once more after previously tripling and scoring the Dodgers’ lone run and he did not disappoint. Freddie Freeman put the capper on the festivities until Heath Hembree made it interesting at the end.
September 11: An underwhelming tour, an overwhelming victory
I got up early to do the stadium tour, which was frankly underwhelming because of the places that were not included that usually are in stadium tours. Overall, Petco Park is a lovely venue, so this encounter is the literal and figurative fly in the ointment.
My travels started with a Heaney start in Minneapolis, there is some poetry in ending my travels with a Heaney start. To be fair, the above was my original plan before my buddy from law school reached out.
This game was a fun one, initially a tense affair where the Dodgers were down 2-0 after four innings due to a solo homer and a fielding error by Freddie Freeman. In the fifth inning, both Justin Turner and Chris Taylor homered to tie up the game. Then in the top of the sixth inning, the party began, with the Dodgers loading the bases.
One swing of his silver hammer and the party was on, capped by Justin Turner hitting the Dodgers’ second grand slam of the year to turn a close game into a rout. The Dodgers ended up scoring eleven unanswered runs, which would have been a lovely way to say goodbye to the year...and then I stumbled upon the Dodgers’ fashion show, but I already covered that. And that was the end of my travels until I checked my messages.
September 17: Rock bottom for our northern cousins
My buddy from law school finally responded to my text about going to a game on Saturday at Oracle Park, so off I went. Truth be told, all you need to know about the Dodgers beating up their northern cousins can be shown by Trayce Thompson putting the Dodgers up 2-1, after an unearned run was enabled by both Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman.
The vaunted Dodgers offense versus the Giants’ overextended bullpen? Matter of if rather than when, unless the muse of baseball wants a laugh. If you want a true rundown of the status of both teams this year, just look at their dugouts at the same moment, just after the Thompson homerun.
No, the true story was something that I saw for a moment while leaving the stadium, a third-party vendor was selling Dodgers merchandise. Oh, the humanity! Something entirely normal that I have seen at just about every other ballpark this year is somehow a crime against the sport. Instead of ignoring the tumult, the Giants actually buckled and threw the vendor under the bus in a display of utter cowardice. Would I care if some vendor at Dodger Stadium sold Giants gear if the Giants were in town? Not at all - selling gear to opposing fans is a time-honored practice just about everywhere I have gone.
While it may be cruel to whistle past the figurative graveyard about the current state of the Giants, until they do something to actually matter again, maybe, they should spend more time focusing on the team they put on the field than punching down at innocent vendors and subcontractors to appease a fickle fanbase.
And with that bit of comedy, my regular season travels in 2022 have come to a close. Whether I end up taking to the road for the postseason or whether I report from the field from sunny Tampa Bay, Florida on Memorial Day weekend in 2023, I look forward to sharing my experiences with you all again soon!