In early July, I went to the Bay Area to see some baseball and visit with best friends Vince and Sharry Lauter. In between 2 weekends of baseball, I spent time at the Lauter abode in Monterey. I was able to see the following A’s and Giants games:
July 5th St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
July 6th St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
July 7th St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
July 12th Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland A’s
July 13th Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland A’s
During my stay, the weather was clear with lows in the low 50’s and highs in the low 70’s. Temps for Oakland games were usually about 5 degrees higher. Vince and Sharry came up from Monterey for the Giants games. My inbound travel by way of Southwest and BART was uneventful. We both had plenty of time to settle into our hotels before the game. I stayed at the Chancellor Hotel in Union Square; while Sharry and Vince were in the Westin St. Francis about a block away. Below I have included game commentaries with some non-baseball activities, especially my interim time in Monterey
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on 7/5/19
I met up with Sharry and Vince at their hotel and together we made the 10 block walk to Oracle Park (new name), home of the Giants. The stadium is located in the South Beach neighborhood adjacent to a segment of San Francisco Bay called McCovey Cove in honor of Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. The setting provides a panoramic view that often finds its way on a postcard. This game proved to be a swinging affair in honor of The Chairman himself as Sinatra tunes were played & trivia showed on the new scoreboard between innings
Vince secured excellent seats at the Club level on the First Base side. The enclosed concourse behind our seats came in handy when the winds picked up and the temperatures dropped into the low 50’s. The Redbirds soundly defeated the Giants 9-4 behind a strong offense, including HR’s by Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Martinez and Dexter Fowler. Cards starter Dakota Hudson kept San Francisco at bay giving up 3 runs over 5 innings and earning the win. Our first day of both travel and baseball left us ready for an early night of rest in preparation for the next game.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on 7/6/19
The next morning, we had breakfast had Café Mason, a bustling diner known for its wide variety of breakfast items. We worked off our meal with a jaunt over to the nearby Salesforce Transit Center at the base of the Salesforce Tower, tallest building in San Francisco. The rooftop park on top of the center provides an ideal setting for relaxing and having lunch. The plan is for the center at street level to be a hub for buses, light rail and eventually Amtrak’s reentry into San Francisco. We then visited the Ferry Building on The Embarcadero. This building houses the terminal for ferries (used by daily commuters to the Financial District), a food hall with restaurants, and shops plus a farmer’s market on weekends.
After a short rest at the hotel I went to Cellarmaker, a brewery in the Tenderloin District that specializes in hop (especially Mosaic & Simcoe) driven beers. Over the years, this place has become my favorite San Francisco Brewery not only because of the beer but also because of the beer geek patrons. One beer and I was on my way to Oracle Park to meet up with Sharry and Vince for another night game at Oracle Park. We had delayed dinner so that we could sample some ballpark fare. You cannot not leave Giants park without a lasting impression of Gilroy Garlic Fries. Gilroy is a small town south of San Francisco that prides itself in being the “Garlic Capital of the World”. The pungent garlic smell permeates the air in all the concession areas and if not careful can often find its way into your clothing.
The Giants came back in this game beating the Cards 8-4. The difference maker was a pinch hit grand slam HR by recently promoted Austin Slater (first by a Giant since in 2003). Sam Dyson picked up the victory after replacing Madison Bumgarner who suffered a contusion on his left elbow caused by a hard ground ball hit back to him early in the game.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on 7/7/19
The next morning, we met for breakfast at the St. Francis Hotel and made arrangements to get our luggage into the Lauter’s car so that we could make a quick getaway to Monterey after the day game. At the game, we met up with Vince’s son Digger and his wife Katie. They brought their 4-month son who was treated to his first ball game. The Willie Mays Statue is a common meeting place before the game.
The Giants edged the Redbirds 1-0 in a pitching duel between starters Jeff Samardzija of the Giants and Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals. Flaherty only give up 2 hits in his 7 innings but unfortunately one of those hits was a home run by Evan Longoria. Prior to the game as part of Dog Day at the Park, pooches were given an opportunity to strut their stuff in a pregame parade. Another treat was having Kenny Loggins (below on scoreboard) singing the National Anthem as part of “Top Gun” day at the Park.
Rest and Relaxation in Monterey and Carmel 7/8/19 – 7/10/19
After bidding farewell to Digger and his clan, Sharry, Vince and I made our way onto the 120-mile trek to Monterey. Once we reached Monterey we had dinner at the local pizza favorite Pizza My Heart featuring thin crust by the slice with plenty of toppings of your choosing. An early night allowed us to recharge our batteries for two days of serious site seeing.
On the 1st day Vince and I made our way down to Fisherman’s Wharf, a one-time commercial fish market that became a tourist attraction of shops and restaurants in the late 1960’s. One could easily make a meal sampling the clam chowder provided by the seafood restaurants.
From the wharf you can often see sea lions basking in the sun on the coast line. The main attraction of the wharf is going on boats to whale watch. The deep ocean floor in Monterey Bay provides a home for many mammals including dolphins, sea otters, sharks, and seals plus a migratory path for whales.
We finished our day with beer at the newly opened Dust Bowl Brewing Company located on the Monterey Trail steps from the Wharf. The Dust Bowl is hardly new as it opened its first brewery in 2006 in Turlock California about 120 miles inland from Monterey. The open air interior and outdoor patio provides a casual atmosphere to enjoy 22 taps ranging from Sours to Pilsners. We got a flight (3 samples) of their IPA’s and found them to be very good. Food is usually available from nearby food trucks.
The next afternoon we went back to downtown Monterey for some beer at the five-year-old Alvarado Street Brewery. This very modern looking interior has an upscale feel with a less formal small patio in the rear. The appearance contradicted the aggressive nature of their beers. I was especially pleased with their Mai Tia IPA, which had a presentation of Mosaic Hops (my favorite) as good as any IPA I have had. I later found out that their beers are distributed in the Bay area and Sacramento.
On the 3rd day, Vince and I took a drive on Highway 1 on the northern end of the Big Sur coast. This road is known for its rugged mountains that are adjacent to a scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline. Fortunately, we were traveling on a midweek morning. This national attraction on a narrow highway can result in major traffic jams on weekends and holidays.
We finished our 20 Mile jaunt by crossing the famous Bixby Creek Bridge. The reinforced concrete arch bridge was built in 1931 and over time has become one of the most photographed features of the area. This span has been shown on ads, movies (Play Misty for Me) and TV shows. Recently the bridge was used in the opening credits of HBO’s TV series Big Little Lies.
In the afternoon we picked up Sharry for a trip to nearby Carmel. Carmel is a small town (population 3,900) that combines nature with art in a laid back retail environment. This small city prides itself on having every part of it being singular including sidewalks with irregular pavement. To protect visitors from tripping local law prevents the wearing of high heels without a permit.
Carmel has been touted as the pet friendliest town in America based on the dog friendly Cypress Inn owned by actress/animal activist Doris Day. We were able to navigate the lumpy sidewalks as walked around and took in the artsy atmosphere. Unfortunately, no sightings of former Carmel mayor Clint Eastwood.
During my stay in Monterey, Sharry and Vince provided me with a comfortable setting and more than enough food. In fact, I was very reluctant to voice my food preferences because Sharry would make a trip to buy more food that I had no capacity left to eat. But more important than the creature comforts were the lively conversations we had, peppered with plenty of trivia. It was hard to leave them but baseball was calling me in the Bay Area
Rest and Relaxation in San Francisco - 7/11/19
The next morning, I took the Monterey Air Bus (a cost effective and convenient Airport Shuttle) to San Francisco Airport. I then boarded BART back to the Chancellor Hotel. After checking back into the hotel, I hopped a Muni bus to Toronado, my favorite SF beer bar.
The Toronado has been described as the best combination dive and beer bar in SF. Old beer ephemera plastered all over the walls and grizzled bouncers and bartenders working the joint enhance this reputation. Its fresh and varied product belies the bar’s appearance.
I noticed a couple smothering their faces with very large sausage sandwiches. I found out from them about Rosamunde, the premier sausage shop in SF, located next door. After finishing my beer, I bought an Italian Sausage Sandwich for carry out. The travel day was tiring; so I retired to my hotel to eat the sandwich. However, the beer and eating experience for the day would have to be repeated before I left the Bay Area
Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland A’s at the Coliseum on 7/12/19
The next morning, I went to the new Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant which had closed on Union Square 2 years ago. I anticipated a lot of change but was not ready for the completely different atmosphere.
A change in location from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf motivated the owners to attract a family crowd rather than an older sports crowd. So what you get there now is a large self-serve buffet area, a Giants gift shop and a Starbucks coffee space. The walls are still covered with plenty of pictures of Lefty and other baseball greats. What has been lost is the hofbrau, the piano bar and most important, the colorful bartenders and wait staff.
Another trip to the new Lefty’s would not be necessary. I left without a purchase and headed to nearby La Rocca’s Corner where I could watch the Pirates-Cubs game and lament the loss of a great sports bar. Next I got on another bus and soon was on my way back to Toronado, for an instant replay of beer and sausage.
Upon arrival, I noticed the Toronado bartender was rooting for the Cubs. I was not successful in hiding my siding with the Pirates. To my relief, the bartender disgruntled with my behavior still took my order. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a Cellarmaker IPA which I had enjoyed the past weekend. After watching the Cubs win, I stopped by Rosamunde and carried out another sausage sandwich to the hotel.
After eating the sandwich and resting, I took the 25 minute BART commute to Oakland Coliseum for the night game. The Coliseum is a much maligned park due to its age of 50 years and limited amenities. The A’s have provided some unique ticket packaging to attract fans. They have discontinued season tickets and have an A’s Access Membership that is like a movie theater pass. With a Pass, you get General Admission to every game, 50% discount off concessions, 25% discount off merchandise, discounted parking and upgrades to reserve seating. Plans start a cost of $240, with varying cost based on the number of desired seat upgrades.
The pass also provides you access to the A’s Treehouse with the standard food, drink, and large TV’s, plus patios, barbeque pits, bands, pool tables, table tennis, etc. The Treehouse is located in the massive outfield stands (below) formerly used by the Raiders, from which you can view the field. I would describe the ambiance as a roof top setting for families/young fans.
The A’s beat the White Sox 5-1 on the standout pitching of veteran Mike Fiers who did not give up a run over 7 1/3 innings. Ramon Laureano, Jurickson Profar and Mark Canha each homered for the scoring. There was not much to cheer. Once back to San Francisco I had a late night snack at Lori’s, an all-night diner near my hotel before calling it a day.
Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland A’s at the Coliseum on 7/13/19
The afternoon game did not leave me with much time to play tourist. So I took my time and was back on Bart by 11:30AM to Oakland for my final game.
The White Sox–A’s game did not provide much relief to my prior day woes. The A’s trounced the White Sox 13-2. The A’s got off to a fast start with 7 runs in the 1st inning. Sox starter Dylan Cease was unable to get out of the 1st inning giving up 6 runs and his relief Ross Detwiler followed by allowing 5 runs. All the A’s hitters contributed to the massacre with either multiple hits or RBI’s. No White Sox positives could be found in either game. All of sudden my decision to head back Sunday and not see the 3rd game of the series seemed quite fortuitous.
Once back to Union Square, I had an early dinner at my favorite Italian Restaurant, Uncle Vito’s Pizzeria just 2 blocks from my hotel. This cozy (10 table) and established (40-year-old) restaurant is known for its reasonably-priced award-winning thin crust pizza. However, I always order their Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread and am never disappointed. With a 6:00AM flight back home the next morning, I went back to the hotel to pack and get some sleep.
As I left the hotel the next day at 4:00AM to get my Lyft ride to SFO, I took one last look up Powell Street toward Nob Hill. The remnants of the late night crowd were still wandering the street and displaying the usual outrageous behavior for which San Francisco is well known. Just a reminder that if you don’t see something really bizarre while in San Francisco you haven’t been there.