4-30-12 (@ San Diego)

Monday started with a 3:20 alarm. Victoria and I didn’t talk about what time we were planning on getting up, and we independently set the alarm on our phones for the same time. How cute is that? HA. My uncle Mike works for Boeing and he said that his job allows him to set his own hours to a degree. We left for the airport at 4:00, and we are both very thankful that he got up extra early just for us.

Our Southwest flight departed at six, and we had a two hour layover in Las Vegas. The flight out of Vegas was airborne by 9:35 and it landed in San Diego at 10:22 (I’m keeping track of all this stuff as well, thus the exact times). I think I’m displaying enough stats as is, but at the end of the season I’ll include a more thorough breakdown of the time I spent traveling and whatnot. While in the air I took a few pictures, flying into San Diego is always fun because you come so close to the buildings, and get a decent view of PETCO Park as you’re approaching. The picture isn’t the best, and the gloomy weather/the two window panes to take the picture through are to blame. You can see the blue seats of PETCO Park in the middle of the photo below.

Victoria and I took the bus to our hotel (Hotel Indigo), which is located roughly 900 feet from PETCO. I paid a little extra to get a room on the executive level, which provides a nice view. However, because of the design of the building, not many rooms have a view of the stadium, ours included. The four part picture below, going clockwise from top left:

1) Part of the lobby right when you walk in. I’m not sure how visible it is, but there is a water feature which takes up the left side of the picture. There are individual streams of water coming down, spaced a couple inches apart.

2) The bar for the in house restaurant: Table 509. The prices are steep, and we probably won’t eat here, but it doesn’t hurt to have the option.

3) The artwork on one of the walls in our room. The room is great and I’m glad I splurged a little and paid $165 a night. There were some (slightly cheaper) alternatives nearby, but with the proximity to the ballpark, I thought it was a fair price.

4) The view out of our window. If I stand up against the far right side of the window and look all the way to the right, I can see the light towers from PETCO.

We decided on The Kebab Shop for lunch, which features “The Original Döner Kebab!” I had the Lamb Döner Kebab, and Victoria the Falafel Döner Kebab. I wasn’t exactly sure how to pronounce “Döner”, so when I ordered I quickly passed over the word, and Victoria just said “I’ll have the Falafel one of those.” I’ve had Gyros before, but it had been awhile. This was basically a Gyro burrito, and it was delicious. To be honest, when I saw the name of the shop, I was expecting your typical shish kebab. After some research (and straight from Wikipedia); “In the Middle East, however, kebab includes grilled, roasted, and stewed dishes of large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls.” I learned something new today! Below is my Lamb Döner Kebab, which consisted of spiced lamb, a mix of fresh veggies, and a creamy garlic yogurt sauce. I also put some of the hot sauce on for an extra kick.

We returned to the hotel, and I took a quick nap while Victoria went to the nearby mall. She brought back cupcakes. She got me a Thin Mint cupcake, and it was amazing. No picture is shown because I ate it too fast. The Thin Mint is my favorite manufactured cookie, thus the excitement. It was topped with mint frosting and half a thin mint; awesome.

Now the bad news. The MRI results came back, and my doctor gave me a call this afternoon. He said that the MRI showed a bone infarction (INFARCTION, not infection). This is when the blood supply to a bone is blocked, causing the bone tissue to die. The fact that the x-ray hadn’t shown any visible damage is a good sign, and this is something that was caught early. I’m not going to go into too much detail until I talk to the orthopedic doctor. My oncologist said that he wanted me to see them Wednesday, but since I won’t be back until next Monday, it’ll have to wait. I’m trying to take it easy and take as many escalators as possible, so hopefully we can figure out the best course of action when I see them next week.

Despite the news, I was still up for some baseball, and Victoria and I left for the park at 5:30. On the corner of our hotel this was the view. As you can see, it is right down the street from where we’re staying.

We walked down the first base side of the stadium and around towards the ticket windows. They have the player will call set up inside of one of the gates, and once they got the Brewers’ tickets, I found out that they didn’t have one for me. After 15 minutes or so everything was sorted out, and I had my ticket. We were then able to go to the ticket windows and get Victoria a ticket. I knew that the game wouldn’t be anywhere near sold out, so I thought it was safe to have her buy a nearby seat, and then I’d sit with her. It worked to perfection and we didn’t have a problem the whole game, the low draw of 16,000 definitely helped. While we were waiting for the Brewers tickets to arrive, we got game photo number 23 taken care of.

We entered the home plate entrance, which is right behind where I’m standing above. There’s a cool water wall that’s located just to the left of my right shoulder. Below is a close up of said water wall. It’s sad that the Padres don’t draw more than they do, because the park is beautiful.

We went up the steps, well, I went up one step, stepped back down, and then took the escalator. On the main concourse there are lots of food choices, and I decided on the BBQ pulled pork. The menu said it came with cole slaw and a pickle spear. There wasn’t much cole slaw, and I swear the pickle spear had been sitting out for days by the way it looked, but nonetheless. With the amount of pork they put on the sandwich, I’d say it was worth the $10.50 that I paid, especially given ballpark prices. It was good, albeit messy.

The game started as I was finishing my sandwich, and I was looking forward to some redemption. In 2010 I went to three of four games at PETCO, the three I went to the Brewers lost, the one I didn’t go to? They won. The Padres got on the board in the second with a walk, stolen base, and a single, and held the 1-0 lead into the fourth.

As a preface; early on Victoria asked if Braun’s father, Joe, was sitting a few rows behind us (FSN has shown him during broadcasts and she’s observant). I concurred, and in the 2nd inning I went back there, told him how much of a Braun fan I was, and told him my story. He’s a really great guy, and even offered to help out if he could. I gave him web address for the blog, and he asked for my phone number, so I obliged.

Back to the game. With one out in the fourth Braun hit an opposite field home run into “The Beach” section in right center. I really didn’t think it was gone when it left the bat just because it’s so deep in that part of the park, but Braun proved me wrong. The Brewers added two more runs in the fourth on an Alex Gonzalez double. Braun batted again in the fifth, this time with one on, and duplicated his result from the fourth. This was a monster shot to the seats in the Western Metal Supply building down the left field line. My uncle said that Uecker claimed it was the hardest Braun had ever hit a baseball. I’m not too sure about that, but it was a missile. Hit Tracker Online claims that the first home run was 419 feet, and the second was 416. I think the first estimate is accurate, but the second? Not so much. The third deck of the building is a good 90 feet above the playing field, and down the line it’s 350 or so. We’ll never know, but I would say 440. I’m not going to argue too much with their estimates, because I’m pretty sure they know what they’re doing most of the time.

Braun stepped to the dish in the seventh and on the first pitch delivered another home run, this run a wall scraper that just barely made it over the left-centerfield fence. A home run is a home run, and Braun now had three. After the third home run I went up to give Braun’s dad a high five, which I did. He then gave me a hug and said I brought good luck, that felt pretty cool to say the least.

I started looking at the outs remaining, and realized the Brewers only needed two base runners to reach (and not get out on the base paths) for Braun to get a chance to tie the MLB record. Fifteen players have hit four home runs in a game, the most recent was Carlos Delgado for the Blue Jays back in 2003. Shawn Green did it against the Brewers at Miller Park back in 2002, and also had a single and a double, going 6-6 with 19 total bases!

The Brewers went in order in the eighth, and they needed two runners two reach in the ninth for Braun to have a chance. Gomez reached after getting hit by a pitch with one out, and I started getting excited. Inexplicably Gomez tried stealing and left on first move, the lefty threw to first, who threw down to second to nab Gomez. I was livid. I joked that Braun was giving him the business in the dugout after that one. The Brewers led 6-3 at the time, so I don’t know what he was doing. Luckily for Gomez (and Brewers fans everywhere) both Rickie Weeks and Nyjer Morgan walked, and the stage was set for Braun. After getting down 0-2 in the count, it wasn’t looking good for Braun. After fouling off a pitch he sent a drive to right on the second 0-2 offering. It fell just short of the warning track and Braun wound up at third with a two-run triple. I got a picture just after he slid into third.

Not quite a four homer game, but three home runs, a triple (for 15 total bases), and 6 RBIs is nothing to shake your head at. Unbelievable.

Dilard came in and retired three of the four batters he faced for an easy ninth inning (compared to yesterday), and the Brewers won. Final Score: Brewers 8 – Padres 3. While walking up the steps I stopped by Joe again and told him to tell Braun “Good Game”. He said thanks and that we’d be in touch. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the west coast swing, knee problems aside.

One last picture. As we were leaving the park, we saw that the bridge going over Harbor Drive and the trolley tracks was illuminated. You can see that it looks much better after dark (the clouds before the game didn’t do it any favors though):

I did miss one pitch during the game. When the Padres were intentionally walking George Kottaras in the fourth, old habits kicked in. Normally, when I see the first pitch is an intentional ball, and the pitcher is walking a guy on purpose, I let my eyes wander and don’t really pay attention until the next batter is announced. Victoria had the bread bowl left over from her New England Clam Chowder (which was delicious and only $7.50). I was picking off some bread pieces and missed the 1-0 pitch. It’s not *really* important, but I cannot tell a lie.

Ok, I’ve been up for almost 24 hours now, I think it’s time for bed.

Personal Stats:

Daily:

Time inside PETCO Park: 3 hours 29 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 4 hours 31 minutes
Miles riding in car but not driving: 17.3
Flight Miles: 1,636
Public Transit miles: 4.0
Sausages: 0
Pitches Missed: 1
Consecutive Pitch streak ended at: 445
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.68% (314/315)

Season:

Time inside stadiums: 94 hours 55 minutes
Time on stadium grounds: 116 hours 2 minutes
Miles driven: 1,957.4
Miles riding in car but not driving: 522.1
Public Transit miles: 140.2
Flight Miles: 2,836
Total distance traveled: 5,456 miles
Sausages: 16 (4 Polish, 4 Hot Dogs, 3 Bratwurst, 2 Italian, Cheddarwurst, Bison Dog, Corndog)
Pitches missed: 16
Longest streak of pitches seen: 1,116 (4/22 – 4/25)
Current streak of pitches seen: 203
Percentage of pitches seen: 99.76% (6,755/6,771)
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4 Comments

amazing dude, amazing – keep doing what you doing! -Andy

Cool about meeting Joe! I’m sure he appreciated your support as he’s probably heard the same, if not more, criticism (undeserved) than you have in your travels. Keep that winning streak going! Keep us updated on your knee.

Ben – Love the visuals and explanations of the ballparks and your love affair with local/ballpark cuisine! Along with your neat recaps of each game I look forward to reading your blog every morning. Enjoy the rest of your western trip and can’t wait to hear about McCovey Cove and that great park. — C. Reed

Saw you on TV last night Ben….great cause. From the nurses at Fort….Sue & Denise. Wish we would have seen this sooner. Will follow you closer now!

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