Baseball’s Giants | San Francisco

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1990

Back in Orange & Black

Take in a game at nearby AT&T Park, as the San Francisco Giants try to reclaim their spot atop of baseball’s highest peak.

By Brett Callahan

 

Opening Day 2011 at AT&T Park brought 42,048 San Francisco Giants fans to their feet as they watched the only thing more unique than closer Brian Wilson’s beard: a World Series banner flapping in the China Basin winds for the first time. Wilson proudly served as the banner’s personal courier while sprinting through center field with the prized possession tucked securely under arm, climbing stairs through the bleachers to a vacant flagpole, where he triumphantly hoisted it to the tune of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” It was the perfect capstone to a perfect season.

Unfortunately for Giants fans, the shimmering afterglow of the 2010 season couldn’t sustain itself against a constant plague of injuries and subsequent inconsistencies that followed the Giants during the 2011 season. As the organization looks toward the 2012 campaign, the team hopes it has made the necessary adjustments to once again have a legitimate chance at raising another banner in the bay.

The Roster

The team’s efforts in climbing their way back to the top of Major League Baseball center on general manager Brian Sabean’s moves to unify and strengthen a roster that mostly reflects the core of that same 2010 championship squad. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Wilson headline a team that has bolstered its talent level by adding youth, speed and power. Through a combination of trades, their own farm system and the healthy return of some key players, the Giants have managed to improve all aspects of their game without having to acquire a big name.

No acquisition will make more of an impact to the lineup this season than the return of Buster Posey. The 2010 Rookie of the Year and the team’s most reliable hitter went down on May 26 after a collision at the plate during a game against the Marlins. Posey suffered season-ending fractures to his fibula and ankle, and tore three ligaments in his ankle that had to be surgically repaired. While Posey may see more time at first base this coming season to ensure durability, the future All-Star hopes to return behind the plate as soon as possible.

And as he told MLB.com, “I’m happy with the progress I’m making. I love catching. I love working with this staff. Anybody who gets a chance to work with this caliber of pitching is pretty fortunate.”

The staff Posey refers to remains one of the most talented and efficient group of pitchers in all of baseball. A rotation that features four All-Stars in Lincecum, Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito, in addition to lefty Madison Bumgarner, the Giants are invariably in the upper echelon of all statistical categories. Anchored by Wilson, the bullpen serves as a deft complement to the starters in making life for opposing hitters miserable.

Fan-favorites like third baseman Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval and second baseman Freddy Sanchez are just some of the mainstays that will be joined in the lineup by newcomers like Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera and rising prospects Brandon Belt and Brett Pill. Behind the versatility and skills of such players, expect the Giants to make huge strides while giving manager Bruce Bochy more firepower and dependability in the field and at the plate.

The emergence of the 2011 National League West Division winner Arizona Diamondbacks, rival Los Angeles Dodgers, and scrappy Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres will force the Giants to play at their best all season. Each of these clubs will make several visits to San Francisco and will bring with them a competitive playoff atmosphere for fans. Other series to keep an eye on include home matchups against the powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies (April 16 – 18), the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals (May 16 – 17) and Texas Rangers ( June 8 – 10) in a rematch of the 2010 World Series.

 

Not a Bad Seat in the House

The Giants hosted 3,387,303 fans at AT&T Park during the 2011 season while setting a franchise record. Additionally, they led Major League Baseball with 28,000 season-ticket holders. The game of baseball may be the primary reason why fans came in such staggering numbers, but it’s the other fan- focused elements that aid in creating a one-of-a- kind experience that keeps them coming back.

The Giants franchise, which was named the 2010 Sports Organization of the Year by Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Daily, receives such praise from the industry and fans alike because they pay as much attention to the details surrounding the field of play as they do to what’s happening on it.

Located in San Francisco’s China Basin, AT&T Park’s lure starts with its view of the San Francisco Bay. It’s easy to miss a pitch or two as you look out at the boats on the bay or the magnificence of the Bay Bridge.

The ballpark features several amenities geared toward making the game an interactive event as much as it is a spectator’s haven. The stadium’s intimate build is conducive for fans looking to score a home run or foul ball and also houses “knot holes” in the right field fence for fans passing by the stadium along the exterior Portwalk to catch an inning or two for free. For those not as fortunate to score a physical piece of baseball history, they can still take home a memory from the ballpark by sliding down the neck of the enlarged Coca-Cola bottle or toss their best fastball at the various games located just behind the left field bleachers.

In-game entertainment such as Giants mascot Lou Seal, the playing of Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,’ ” vendors passing by with panda hats and fake Wilson beards, and the soothing call of Emmy- award winning broadcasters “Kruk and Kuip,” all add to the unparalleled rhythms of the game for fans.

AT&T Park is also home to some exclusive VIP and suite seating options for those wanting to escape the bleachers for innovative luxury. The park affords fans various options within its premium suites, field box rentals and Oracle Suites, all of which include VIP parking and a scoreboard message.

The premium suites highlight some of the more diverse and exclusive vantage points available for a game-watching experience. The Champions Suite is dedicated to the 2010 championship season with photographs and memorabilia of the storied season surrounding guests while they sit at press box level behind home plate. Catering to the value of privacy, the Audi Legends Club, a 50 to 100-person suite accessible only at Club level, is known as the “Club within the Club” and has a large patio outside with rows of seating for those wanting to take in every pitch. More adventurous settings like the Virgin American Loft at McCovey Cove and Triples Alley are two of the most unique sets of seats in the stadium. The Loft has a tiered patio that partially extends over right field as well as a five-star view of the bay at its rear, giving up to 45 guests the best of both the game and the views around it. For larger groups, Triples Alley, which can accommodate up to 300 guests, includes a field-level space near the warning tracks in center field and a private entrance to the Portwalk.

Serious students of the game may want to try out the field box rentals to get as close to the on- field action as possible. Whether it’s the Bullpen Box, Dugout Box or the Lexus Batter’s Box, located directly behind home plate, there is no better way to view the intricacies of the game than through these premium seats. Finally, the Oracle Suites provide traditional suite settings with the full complement of kitchenettes, wet bars, Wi-Fi, and high-end furnishing. Unlike the premium and field box rentals, the Oracle Suites are also available for full- season ownership.

 Beyond Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

When the time comes for a break in the action for some ballpark refreshments, fans are treated to an enlivened mix of both reliable standards and more modern offerings rooted in the surrounding area.

“The food and beverages were and continue to be created to reflect the rich, local flavors and unique culinary offerings of the San Francisco Bay Area,” says Shana Daum, senior director of public affairs and community relations.

Walk the concession aisles for a few feet and one is bound to find a fan trying to trace the smell of fresh garlic and parsley. The signature dish of the park, garlic fries are available at 10 locations throughout the stadium. Make the walk to Centerfield Wharf located in Scoreboard Plaza, and one can find another park classic, the Crazy Crab sandwich, which loads Dungeness crab onto grilled sourdough. The tastes of Northern California continue as fans have their choice of an impressive wine selection originating from Napa Valley and other prominent vineyard hotbeds, as well as several dessert listings from Ghirardelli Chocolate.

Diverse cuisine being a major draw to the city, the food carts around the park are designed to reflect the surrounding ethnic varieties. From A Taste of North Beach where Italian reigns supreme, to the Asian offerings at Edsel Ford Fong’s, and traditional American-style ballpark flavors at John J. McGraw’s Derby Grill for premium hot dogs, sausages, burgers, fries, beer and peanuts, the options only continue to grow.

 

A Perfect Day

Attending a Giants game should be a memorable event that lives on well past the final pitch. In order to ensure this for guests attending the games, the staff at The St. Regis San Francisco is readily available to assist with all aspects of the day, from transportation to the game, to recommending where to go after to celebrate another victory and anything in between.

The first aspect of any game is finding the right seats. The St. Regis staff works closely with independent brokers to help find the best seats at the best price available.

“We’re able to get seats right behind the dugout, at club level, whatever best suits our guest,” concierge Mariah Zuefle-Newman says.

Once tickets are in-hand, it’s a matter of getting to the game. The hotel offers car service or a doorman will gladly hail a taxi, but just as commonly many guests elect to walk the roughly 20 minutes to the ballpark.

Those searching for dining options before or after the game can turn to any concierge on hand for a recommendation to some of San Francisco’s top restaurants, lounges, pubs and bars.

Decorated chef Traci Des Jardins’ sister restaurants, Mijita and Public House, are two of Zuefle-Newman’s top recommendations. Mijita is self-described as a “Cocina Mexicana with a Bay Area flavor,” while Public House serves gourmet pub fare right outside the front entrance of the ballpark. Handcrafted 21st Amendment, a handcrafted brewery and restaurant, and 25 Lusk, a trendy New American restaurant, lounge and bar are fresh alternatives to popular favorites like MoMo’s and Red’s Java House for guests searching for local plates and libations.

If staying in seems like the best fit, don’t be surprised if some of the Giants come to you, as several players frequent The St. Regis San Francisco. No matter how fans choose to take in the games of the 2012 season, it promises to be intriguing and well worth following.