The San Diego (and then some) trip

…a simple prop to occupy my time…

I’m headed down to San Diego on Wednesday. Thanks to the magic of the internet and remote access, I’ll still be working and updating the blog from here just as I would from home. Normally my trips down south haven’t been scheduled to coincide with much baseball action. This time I made sure to get that straightened out. I expect to attend at least seven games at different venues, up to eleven if the logistics work out right. The main purpose of the trip is to attend my brother’s wedding on the 22nd, though I’ve managed to schedule it so that it could include a long Padres homestand and two series in which the A’s visit the Angels.

Games in italics are optional or tentatively scheduled. Games in bold are booked.

While I was planning my post-wedding itinerary, I found out a few nice gems that could be helpful for you if you should decide to make a trip south.

  • The Pads are a cellar-dweller team this season, and their attendance shows it. That makes it easy for me to simply walk up and grab whatever seat I like. However, when I sought out a ticket online from the team website, it gave me a pop-up advertising a “Pick 4 Pack”. If I picked four games at virtually any price level (except the Park pass), I’d also get a ticket for the stadium tour and a cap. Clearly, such a deal is meant for locals, not visitors like me. It just so happens that my schedule fits perfectly with it, so I intend to take up the offer. I’ve taken the Petco tour before, yet I’m a sucker for any stadium tour so if I can get a free one I’m doing it.

Offer good for 4 games. Not good if buying 4 tickets to a single game.

  • I’d just as soon not drive the two hours to Anaheim or LA to catch games there. My initial public transit choice was going to be the Pacific Surfliner, the Amtrak California line that runs from Santa Barbara to San Diego, through LA and OC. The cost of each trip looked a bit steep ($28 each way), so I looked at alternatives. I found that the LA area’s train system, Metrolink, runs a special weekend pass in which you can go everywhere on the system (that runs weekend trains) for only $10 on both Saturday and Sunday. It even includes travel starting on Friday night at 7 PM. The pass allows me to drive from San Diego to Oceanside, then take the train for Sunday afternoon games. I might also be able to pull of a Friday night game, we’ll see.
  • Included in the trip are two games at San Diego State and University of San Diego. USD’s Cunningham Stadium is a special curiosity for me because of its unusual layout. Tucked into a hillside, it has one narrow bank of bleachers and two rows of seats near the dugouts. It also has great hill views.
  • I haven’t been to Dodger Stadium in a decade. I’m fully aware of how restrictive it’s been historically, yet I want to sit in the Top Deck because I’ve never sat there before. Any tips on what I should do there?

If this works out right, the game experiences shouldn’t be significantly more expensive than what I normally get going to A’s games. There will be review of every stadium during the trip. During the “down” time I’ll be hanging out with friends in North Park, sampling lots of tasty beer. And yes, pilgrimages to one or more Pizza Port locations are in the offing.

62 thoughts on “The San Diego (and then some) trip

  1. At Dodger Stadium, you can go up to levels higher than that befitting your ticket (I believe you didn’t use to be able to do this) but you can’t go down, and you can’t go to or from the bleachers. The team store is on the top deck, so understandably they wanted people to be able to get to that (although they have an additional team store behind the bleachers as well). But if you have a top deck ticket, you are stuck in the top deck, which is like Mount Davis on the infield. I would get a reserved ticket (3rd deck) and go up to the top deck so you can come back down in case you don’t like it.

  2. Pizza Port Solana Beach, FTW!

  3. Whenever my friend and I go to the Anaheim games, we always comment on how you almost have to be a billy goat to climb the third deck stairs there. The Coliseum’s third deck felt no where as steep.

  4. Be sure to hit up Alesmith, Stone, Ballast Point, and Lost Abbey if you can swing it. If you haven’t yet been to Port’s bottle shop in Carlsbad, next to the restaurant, check it out. Lots of gems.

  5. Oh, forgot about Oggi’s, Churchill’s Pub and Yard House. Ok, I’ll stop now. 🙂

  6. Bring a jacket if you sit in the Top Deck; I got fooled by the weather and froze my a__ off up there.

  7. If you’re looking for beer don’t forget to hit up Green Flash Brewing in Mira Mesa. They have hands down the best beers in San Diego County IMO. Also if you’re looking for cheap food w/ some good beer San Diego Brewing company is a must as well.

  8. @Dan – I’ve been to Green Flash at both the old and new locations, Oggi’s, Churchill’s, and Stone. Will hit up Alesmith, Lost Abbey, and Ballast Point (a must) when I have the chance.

  9. Also don’t forget Mission Brewing while you’re visiting PETCO Park. They’re just across the east parking lot from the home plate gate. Great pre-game place to visit.

    Also good idea visiting Cunningham Stadium now as it’s not long for this world since it’s being replaced with USD’s new field Fowler Park next season.

  10. I’ve been living 2 miles from the USD campus for the last year and a half, and I never realized what an odd seating arrangement their baseball stadium has until your post prodded me to check it out on Google Maps. I’m surprised they didn’t put more seating along the baselines.

    Ah, the beer down here is awesome. I had no idea before I moved here. I thought Portland was the end-all, be-all for craft breweries, but San Diego is at least on par. PIzza Port Solana Beach is the original, but check out the OB location if you haven’t been. Newer, roomier, and more conveniently located if you’re in North Park. If you haven’t eaten at the Stone Brewery in Escondido, be prepared for a little sticker shock. If you come to Little Italy, Craft & Commerce around the corner from my office has a great beer list, good food, and SD beers are 2 for 1 during happy hour.

    Damn, I’m getting thirsty. Might need to head down to Craft & Commerce right now.

  11. Rob, the seating arrangement won’t be that way for long. The new park they’re building starting in June will have seats down both lines to the bases as well as a kid zone, a real concession stand, etc… It’s a fairly big project that’s going to cost $13 million bucks which is more than double what Santa Clara University paid for their current ballpark about 6 years ago and more than 4x what San Diego State paid for their current ballpark 15 years ago. Trade off is though they’re getting what looks to be an amazing stadium out of it that is twice the size as Cunningham and will have lights for night games.

  12. Dan:

    Thanks for the heads-up. I couldn’t find anything about the new stadium at the USD athletics site, but I didn’t try too hard.

  13. Alesmith is a must visit. Their Speedway Stout is in my top five beers of all time. I was able to spend a fair amount of time in SD last summer when we were down for the National Homebrewers Conference. Miss it.

  14. I haven’t sat in the upper deck at Dodger stadium in like 20 years. The reserve level is already so far away, the upper deck is just too far away, IMHO.

  15. I will be at the Angels/A’s game on Thursday. I’m driving down from Utah tomorrow.

  16. $38 to take the surfliner from Van Nuys to SD! I’ll be taking it that 2nd week in May too. I’ll be at Petco on Friday and maybe Angel stadium earlier in the week.

  17. I second dan’s recommendations on Pizza Port (brew pub and the awesome selection of beers available at their shop next door) and Lost Abbey. Both are excellent.

  18. I think I’m going to the 5/14 game. I have an Angels 10-game mini plan, and that happens to be a decent promotional game too (water bottle night).

  19. @White Rob – Craft and Commerce is a cool place. I was introduced to beer cocktails there six months ago – fantastic. Somehow those haven’t migrated up here yet. Quick recipe I like:

    4 oz. of a very hoppy IPA (Racer 5, Pliny the Elder, Green Flash)
    4 oz. grapefruit juice
    Few drops of angostura bitters

    Mix and enjoy. Quite refreshing.

  20. ML:

    Will give the beer cocktail a try next time I’m there. If you haven’t been, the Craft & Commerce people opened up a ramen place called Underbelly several months ago. It’s located just a few blocks north of C&C. Really cool space on sunny days (which are the norm) and they of course have a great beer list.

  21. That’s an interesting beer cocktail recipe. I recently whipped up a “west coast ipa” inspired by Pliny the Elder and will have to give it a shot. The grapefruit juice will probably pair well with the citrusy/tropical fruit/dankness thing going on with the beer…

  22. The last two MLB games I attended were at the Coliseum, in the upper deck, and Yankee Stadium, right behind the home dugout. Never seen a bigger difference in amenities or price.

  23. Joe, in what ways?

  24. Also glad to hear SMG is on the way out. They’ve been a big part of the Coliseum’s downfall amenities wise IMO as the service has been in pretty much steady decline since they took over. AEG always seems to find a way to revitalize any venue they take over, hopefully the Coliseum will also benefit from that.

  25. @Dan

    I like the Coli (especially the cheap seats) and was weened on old Yankee Stadium’s upper deck as a kid, but I had a chance to sit in the lower bowl and the ticket came with a pre-game buffet and all-you-can eat food during the game. Of course, those seats cost something like $500. Fun but definitely not something I would spend my own money on.

  26. Hey Man, I’ll be at that 5/14 game. Hit me up on Twitter or email, cuppingmaster at gmail dot com if you want to meet up.

  27. Dan says:
    April 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM Dan(Quote)
    Also glad to hear SMG is on the way out. They’ve been a big part of the Coliseum’s downfall amenities wise IMO as the service has been in pretty much steady decline since they took over. AEG always seems to find a way to revitalize any venue they take over, hopefully the Coliseum will also benefit from that.

    Yeah, and chances are they will want to invest and help develop Coliseum City with or without the A’s being involved.

  28. Damn shame how the deal in Sac fell apart, because the goofy broke Maloofs are at it again playing their bad game of bluff poker. How sad.

    The Maloofs need to sell or just admit they can’t put any money down on any new Arena or sports and Entertainment complex.

    If the Kings end up moving, then it will probably be to Seattle.

  29. Had a beer cocktail at Phil’s fish market in Moss Landing; Blue Moon with something else (can’t remember). I’m going there tomorrow for dinner, will report after. Beer cocktails must be a coast thing (?).

  30. I have dreams about Green Flash and Pizza Port. Stone you can get easy out here, not so much AleSmith. San Diego, Boulder and Portland should have a knife fight for best craft brewing cities. I’ll put 10 on Boulder

  31. @pjk the difference is the Vikings can move wherever they want.

  32. eb: How so? The Vikings go to LA instead of the Raiders? The Raiders share the LA stadium with the Vikings?

  33. re: The A’s belong in Oakland.
    …yet Oakland residents continually vote for pols who have spent hundreds of millions on facilities for the Warriors and Raiders and $0.00 for the A’s. Do the A’s belong in an empty football stadium forever?

  34. Well, all of the above. It adds a real component to this whole situation, instead of the guessing we have all been doing. I could have swore the NFL suggested it would ease the NFL into L.A. with one team at a time. I could be wrong about that, but it would give some time to get something done here for the Raiders. In any event, I feel bad for Viking fans.

  35. re: They have shown over time that they will support a winning baseball organization composed of iconic players in a gritty stadium in a tough city with owners committed to winning the World Series, not relocating to greener pastures.
    …2006: A’s win their division, make it to the AL Championship Series. They rank 26th in attendance out of 30 teams.
    …1974: A’s win the World Series, rank 22nd out of 24 teams in attendance
    What is Dolich talking about? A’s attendance has been pretty bad for most of 44 years.

  36. eb, sadly Dolich’s own “facts” don’t seem to match his opinion. And if this were any indication of what he showed MLB way back when, it’s really not a shocker why MLB denied him.

  37. @dmoas I’m not saying this article has any real substance, but Dolich is a pretty smart guy and has a pretty good track record in his field of work. However, I was actually surprised to see this in the Merc op-ed section.

  38. So what’s Dolich’s plan? Is it still another joint A’s-Raiders stadium, to make not just MLB but the NFL puke, too?

  39. No, pjk, he thinks he can build a new one for 25 million again. After all, they did it in the 60s.

  40. eb, I don’t disagree he’s a smart guy, but his bias is negatively influencing his ability to make sense. He states that the Coli complex has brought in over 100 million fans in it’s history. That’s 2.2 a year. For 3 professional sports franchises combined. Plus concerts, shows, etc. And he’s trying to use that as a basis for future success. If that number were for one sport, that’d be a pretty solid number. That number is HORRIBLE for the combination of events that were required to get it. And his other bullets have some serious, fundamental flaws too. His entire opinion piece is nothing but mostly inane rhetoric and offers nothing of substance.

  41. @dmoas The complex was without the Raiders for a long while and before they left, they drew fans like gangbusters (granted the return has been a disaster, but I attribute that to the chaotic nature of the situation), the Warriors have as well. Baseball attendance had been pretty bad for both Bay Area teams pre-At&t with some deep valleys and one pretty good run, but that’s a topic that’s been debated to death on here.

  42. At this point in the game Seligs opinion matters a lot more than Dolich’s. That’s all I’ll say about that one.

  43. Dolich was also quoted as saying on TV that after the Niner’s stadium, there will not be another publicly financed stadium in Northern California….I guess that means the Raiders are gone (again)…. :X

  44. The Raiders have spent nearly 40 years at the Coli, eb. The A’s have averaged just short of 1.5 million a year in their entire time in the Coliseum. Not that great.

  45. “Ultimately, the most important group in this hypothetical baseball board game isn’t the owners, the commissioner’s Bay Area territorial solution committee, lawyers, judges, economists, elected officials or team officials.” – whatever Oakland crack Dolich is smoking, I want some of it as well…. :X

  46. @dmoas “The Raiders have spent nearly 40 years at the Coli, eb. The A’s have averaged just short of 1.5 million a year in their entire time in the Coliseum. Not that great”
    I won’t defend the A’s attendance/radio/tv support, as that has been a problem (although I think one of the largest factors in that, for a while, was that the Bay Area’s population was not large enough for two teams.) As for the Raiders, they drew great before they left and have had problems with PSLs, rebuilding their fan base, negative media portrayal, hate for Al, etc. since they’ve been back (Although, if you look at the average attendance, the Raiders have drawn better in Oakland than they did in L.A., that’s something at least.) I look at the Raiders and the A’s as being in a possible overhaul stage. Hopefully new stadiums (if they happen) and front office (in the Raider’s case) will turn the negative tide they’ve been sailing as of late.

  47. I think AEG’s entrance into the picture may be fairly significant. Granted, they are only tentatively sneaking in through an sidedoor, but I see this as the beginning of a play for something bigger. I don’t trust them, but they know their racket.
    Over the last 48 hours, I learned to stop worrying about San Jose and began to love it. My bad – I should have known it. Like each of Lew’s proposals, SJ was DOA from the onset. Each has suffered from a fatal flaw. Sometimes it took awhile to see it.
    Cisco Field in San Jose isn’t going to happen. Sorry, ML, Tony, and you San Jose folks. Nothing personal, but I’ll now be working from this premise. Laugh at me all you want – I am at peace.
    But excuse me: half beer/half fruit juice is not a cocktail, that’s something you put in a sippy cup.

    • @Freddy – You’ve spouted the same anti-ownership crap you’ve always said from the beginning. No surprise there. What I haven’t heard is how Oakland is going to get a new ballpark built. I’m all ears, Freddy.

  48. Andy Dolich is to the A’s to San Jose what Carmen Policy was to the 49ers to Santa Clara. The obvious irony, which has already been pointed out, was Dolich lead the fight for the 49ers move south. Dolich talks a great game and Oakland as a city needs champions. But unless Dolich has a couple billion secretly hidden the financial facts of Oakland, and the last years of the Hass ownership for that matter still haven’t changed. Waiting for local billionaires and Oakland politicos to save the day is like planning for you retirement by expecting to win the lottery. You’re setting yourself up for failure.
    Back to the original blog post – have fun at Petco. If you remember, back when Wolff became head of the current ownership group he led a team of designers to Petco when the A’s were playing down there. I distinctly remember Wolff commenting on how they were “creative” with their luxury suites, and that a future smaller ballpark for the A’s would require that same kind of creativity. I wonder if that “creativity” was a major point of inspiration for the mini suites beyond right field in the Cisco Field renderings. The current renderings don’t show much of suites between first and third base. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer until stadium design becomes the main topic of discussion.

  49. ML – I know you consider my viewpoint “anti-ownership crap” but if you and Jeffery want to go all “Jane, you ignorant slut” on me, I’m willing to engage you. Entertain an opposing viewpoint – it could make for some interesting dialogue. Let Tony laugh at me now and I promise not to be mean to him later. If I’m wrong, so be it, until then I’ll boost your ratings. Deal?
    Like it or not, in the near future, the Oakland A’s will be playing at stadium. They’ve been playing there since Lew came on board. They will be playing there for the next 4-5 years, perhaps longer. Lew turned a non-issue into a problem, he had no solution, since then he and the franchise have been floundering.
    He walked into an empty battlefield and made every mistake chronicled by Sun Tzu. He’s toast.
    His recent legal fees bought his cement boots; nothing more. Let’s all hate the Giants, but this sad state of affairs is not their fault. It’s not Bud Selig’s fault. It’s not Fremont’s fault. It’s not the Oakland Flea Market and 66th to High Street’s fault. It’s not the City of Oakland’s fault.
    MOST IMPORTANTLY: It’s not the customer’s fault. That’s been the major disconnect all along. Rubbed in our face, even. (This will apply to San Jose folks once they realize they have been jilted – sorry about that. No consolation, but he screwed us, so we know how you feel.)
    I’m not anti-ownership, like some kind of communist – but read the tea leaves. Lew ain’t happening.
    Don’t ask me, ask AEG. They know the lingo. The terms of the argument are shifting. First they take Manhattan, then they take New York.
    Take a day off, forget about ballparks. Go to the beach.

  50. Gotta love the useless Sun Tzu reference, because yes if I hear tactical disposition or open ground mentioned I’m more apt to buy the lines of bs that are about to follow. Also remember Orwell’s rules, never use a metaphor or figure of speech you see in print because it’s not inventive ands makes people glaze over the bs you are about to sell them.

  51. Dolich’s plan is nothing new, it isn’t a plan. I guess my question would the money to buy the A’s come from and keep them locked in the coliseum? George Zimmer? I guarantee not.

  52. Nicosan, admirable warrior. When Lew sells, we can talk.
    The Oakland Athletics are currently undervalued and will be bought.
    If you can’t go to the ocean, the mountains await. California. Tough choice.

  53. @Freddy – As good as AEG has been at times, they have always looked out for their bottom line. Sprint Center in KC still doesn’t have a tenant four years after it opened. That’s because it’s better for AEG not to have a team in there. They’re also directly responsible for moving the Quakes to Houston. AEG isn’t exactly a saint among Quakes fans. AEG is not Oakland’s savior. They’re just a business.

    Ratings? This isn’t TV. The comments section is for you the readers. It doesn’t benefit me unless people drop news in there.

    It’s simple. Wolff is trying to build a ballpark, and he’s trying to do it without a huge public handout. That alone is hard enough, and it’s hilarious that so many people don’t appreciate it, especially those who are right this very minute paying tax dollars for a debacle like Mt. Davis. If someone – anyone – can articulate how a privately financed ballpark can happen in Oakland I am all for it. So far it’s been complete silence on the matter.

  54. I’ll look at the positive side of this: at least folks like Dolich and Freddy will keep things interesting around here until the decision is announced by Selig/MLB. I’m 100% certain they’ll be long gone after its announced, so “enjoy” while you can!

  55. Did Drinkabout last night. It’s a free bus that runs around North Park and South Park, shuttling happy drunks around 10 different bars and restaurants. I only wish it happened more than once a month.

  56. @Freddy- I admire your enthusiasm, but I have some questions, and perhaps you are right, there is a fair chance that the San Jose plan falls through, as who knows what unseen forces are at work here. But back up a second. You seem to be saying that this stadium issue is a problem that Wolff created on his own. That point of view suggests that playing in a half empty football stadium was acceptable, correct? Because for a few years there in the early 2000s (Moneyball era), the A’s seemed like they would survive living in the shadow of AT&T. I get that. But can you honestly say that the Coliseum would have remained a viable long term home for the A’s? After 44 years, no matter what you think of current ownership, isn’t it just time for new digs?

  57. I lived in SD for 11 years. The citizens got screwed by the Mayor and the owners of the Pads for building Petco. I believe and the city of SD will paying for building for that mess for a long time.

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