We finished working and headed to Petco Park around 2:30 pm. The stadium looked resplendent with bunting lining the railings of each level. Attendees received a dark blue t-shirt with San Diego emblazoned across the front, resembling the font of the road jerseys. I have mixed feelings about the giveaway. It is one of the better looking t-shirts given away by the team in our short time as season ticket holders. However, I think that an giveaway on Opening Day should commemorate the event. Something like the new logo with Opening Day 2012 underneath would have done the trick. It is a minor quibble as many of the Opening Day crowd wore their new shirt and looked sharp in it.
We watched the Opening Night festivities in Miami on television the night before. It was one of the stranger opening ceremonies I have seen with a lot gimmicks with little to no apparent baseball relevance (Brazillian showgirls escorting the players, Muhammed Ali being driven around the field, Jose Feliciano singing an unusual interpretation of the National Anthem). In San Diego, the opening felt like pure baseball. Dick Enberg's classic booming voice set the tone from the beginning welcoming all to this festive event.
As many know, the Padres did a classy and brilliant marketing move by giving away to area teams, 11,000 Little League jerseys representing the many uniform styles of the Padres of the years. The team invited Little League players of each jersey type onto the field during the opening ceremonies. Watching them stand proudly with their crisp new unis down the foul lines from the major leaguers was a really cool touch. The National Anthem was performed in classic style by a military band while a massive flag was unfurled. Finally, the Colonel, Jerry Coleman was honored and threw out the first pitch. The opening ceremonies were classy, fun and made me even more amped up for baseball.
The crowd had a playoff feel to it, not only due to it being Opening Day but also the fierce rivalry with the Dodgers and their fans. New owner Magic Johnson looked like a kid on Christmas day watching his newly purchased team. The Padres new pitching acquisition, Edinson Volquez got off to a great start striking out seven before suddenly and completely losing the strike zone. It appeared as if he got totally unglued after not getting a few close pitches in that inning. He will be interesting to watch this season because even with the Ricky Vaughn-esque wildness he managed to only give up two earned runs and three hits thru five innings.
The Padre offense struggled even after ace Clayton Kershaw left the game with the stomach flu. After leading the Padres in 2011 with nine, Ernesto Frieri recorded his first hit by pitch yesterday. With Frieri and Volquez on this staff (Volquez led the NL in HBP in 2008 with 14), the Padres shouldn't have to worry much this season about the opposition crowding the plate. Cameron Maybin provided the lone Padres highlight on Thursday with a 445 foot laser shot that went over the paint can in left field.
We started Friday by trying the Bull Tacos at the Pier on the club level. The Pier offers a great view of the field and is a excellent place to go if you have Park Passes. The street tacos themselves were underwhelming and overpriced. We headed over to our seats which were surrounded with the always obnoxious Dodgers fans. The Dodgers fan one row in front of us projectile vomitted before the first inning ended. Classy. We alerted security and Padres cleaning crew got the mess cleaned up pretty quickly. Unfortunately, that event was more dramatic then the game which was a 6-0 whitewash. The post game fireworks were spectacular as always, this time using Star Wars as a theme.
On Saturday, the Padres got their first errorless game of the season but still struggled with the bats amassing only four hits. Fortunately, the Dodgers relievers completely lost sight of the strike zone and gave up five runs, largely due to walks, a wild pitch and a hit by pitch. Dee Gordon proved to be a one man wrecking crew with 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 stolen bases and the game winning RBI.
The Padres got the monkey off their back on Sunday with a 8-4 win. We knew we were only going to be able to stay at the park until 3pm, so we purchased park passes for $7.50 and ended up watching from the new Budweiser patio near section 227. It is a great setup and pretty good views of the field. We actually preferred watching there to the Western Metal Building. Since some of the other standing room areas have been turned into suites, this provides a great alternate. Next time we are going to have to go early and play the bag toss game.
|New Budweiser Signage|
|Park at the Park|
|Dodgers Fox Sports next to the paint can|
|Little Leaguers in their new unis|
|Big Leaguers in their new unis|
|Magic Johnson and Frank McCourt|
|Park at the Park|
|Kershaw gets first Dodgers hit|
|Volquez on base with first Padres hit|
|Padres killer Matt Kemp|