Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take me out to the ballgame

Barry Zito threw seven shutout innings.

Yesterday, I got tired of sitting about and took advantage of my now-standard long weekend to go to the ballpark for the first time this season. In doing so, I was able to have a surprisingly cheap and fun afternoon out as the San Francisco Giants hosted the San Diego Padres.

The Giants have something they call "variable pricing," which is similar to airline pricing: the higher the demand for a game, the more-expensive a ticket. Conversely, the lower the demand, the lower the price. Seeing as the game Wednesday was the lowest-attended (with 26,593 tickets sold) in the 10-season history of AT&T park, I'm not surprised I was able to snag a bleacher seat for just $7 from the automated ticket machine outside the park. The same seat for next homestand's tilt against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants' traditional rival, is going for $15.

To top off the bargain, there was a one-day only promotion that if I flashed my Visa Signature card at the Visa booth, I'd get a voucher for a free garlic fries and soda. Having done so, I only had to buy a hot dog (a ballpark-reasonable $5.75 for a "colossal dog") and I was set. With the low attendance, there were plenty of open seats in the lower area and I retreated there to avoid the sun.

The game itself was one that myself and other baseball purists would love, but non-fans would probably think was boring. I saw some great, tense pitching as the Giants beat the Padres, 1-0. Bengie Molina pinch-hit a ground-rule double in the 10th inning (see, I even got a little extra baseball at no added cost!) in a game the San Francisco Chronicle called "gripping."

I almost had a third great bargain, as the game moved along crisply and I thought I might be able to use the same $1.50 Muni ticket that I used to get to the park on the way back. As fast as the game was (2 hours, 44 minutes -- for an extra-inning game), I just barely missed the 3:30 p.m. expiration of my transfer. Oh well, it was still a very good deal.

I fled to the lower bowl more to avoid the sun (and skin cancer) than to improve my view.

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