(UPDATE: Apologies for the videos accidentally being marked as private. That’s been changed, so you should be able to view them now.)
Giants fans had to like Monday’s Opening Day in Houston, where Tim Lincecum was brilliant, new Giant Mark DeRosa bashed a homer, John Bowker showed off a nice glove (and bat) and Brian Wilson was downright filthy in the ninth.
But the fans who showed up to AT&T Park for the CSN Authentic Opening Day viewing party REALLY enjoyed the day. They got to watch the game on the high-def video board, surrounded by fellow orange-and-black faithful, eating a free hot dog and getting an autograph from Vida Blue and Jeffrey Leonard. Here are some of them getting excited for the first at-bat of the season (love the guys jumping out of their skin with excitement in the dugout):
(More photos and videos after the jump — click “Continue reading”)
(Administrative note: After having to give up early last season, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with blogging about ballpark happenings this season, but I’m going to try.)
Wednesday was the annual media open house at AT&T Park, where the Giants discuss what exciting things are planned for the upcoming season (beyond the guys in uniforms throwing a ball around).
Opening Weekend kicks off April 9 with Opening Day vs. the Braves. San Francisco’s own Matt Nathanson will perform the national anthem (seriously, if you don’t know this guy, go download “Come On Get Higher” RIGHT NOW) and the first pitch will be thrown out by a mystery San Francisco sports legend. Toss out your guesses on Twitter (address to @sfgiants or tag it #sfgiants), and no, it’s not Barry Bonds.
But speaking of Bonds, he’ll be at AT&T Park on April 11 as part of the 10th anniversary of the first regular-season game played at the yard. Other guests from that 2000 National League West championship team include Rich Aurilia, Marvin Bernard, Ellis Burks, Felipe Crespo, Bobby Estalella, Shawn Estes, Aaron Fultz, Mark Gardner, Jeff Kent, Ramon Martinez, Bill Mueller, Robb Nen, Armando Rios, Kirk Rueter and J.T. Snow.
The night before that, Tim Lincecum will be honored for winning his second consecutive Cy Young Award, with postgame fireworks also planned.
Here’s a sampling of some of the giveaways planned this year:
Six bobblehead giveaways include this awesome Willie Mays “The Catch” bobblehead on May 16 (the Giants started the bobblehead craze with a Mays bobblehead back in the ’90s):
An Orange and Black Attack team member shows off the skateboard deck to be given away May 30:
Another Orange and Black Attack member models the “wearable blanket” being given away April 23:
This next one isn’t a giveaway, but it’s sure to be popular — Tim Lincecum wigs will be sold at the ballpark. Here, senior vice president Mario Alioto models the wig with both a Giants cap and with Lincecum’s preferred headwear, a beanie:
The highlight of media day (at least for the media) is a sampling of some of the new and returning food items offered at the ballpark. Some of the new comestibles include cheesesteaks, a caprese sandwich, a classic grilled Reuben, a Columbus St. Combo, a Lettieri Family Italian beef sandwich, a potato bar, sushi bar and grilled kabobs.
A new party area is coming to the park — the Coors Light Deck out in right-center (near the flagpoles and the cable car). Watch the video below to learn more about this space:
And finally, I leave you with a photo of the new Guest Services uniforms. Much cooler than the old green and beige numbers:
UPDATE — 7:15 p.m.: PLAY BALL!
UPDATE — 6:45 p.m.: It’s been mostly dry since they removed the tarp, with an occasional misting. Some of the Rockies have been warming up in right field, and Bob Howry played catch with Jeremy Affeldt in front of the Giants dugout a little while ago.
Bengie Molina just came out in full gear to warm up with bullpen catcher Bill Hayes. And I think they’re pretty confident about starting the game, since after having the tarp folded in half in left field since they first removed it, the grounds crew has the drum out to roll it up and take it off the field.
UPDATE — 6 p.m.: After a brief period of downpour, it’s dry again. They’re taking the tarp off right now, so this might be that window we’ve been hearing about.
UPDATE — 5 p.m.: The gates opened an hour early at 4:15 so fans could watch the Giants take batting practice, but obviously, they’re not taking BP tonight. There is a very happy group of kids already here, though, all wearing matching Giants rain jackets and huddled at the corner of the dugout where Tim Lincecum is signing autographs.
I have no clue what this actually means, having no meteorological expertise whatsoever, but Accuweather’s neat animated radar page appears to have less green stuff offshore now, so stay hopeful. The rain appears to be nearing stopped for the moment here at the yard, where the 1987 NL West-clinching game is airing on the video board.
3:45 p.m.: While I cannot speak for the Giants in an official capacity, I’m happy to provide some insight into what’s going on here at a wet AT&T Park and the possibility of ball being played tonight.
One thing that’s important to understand: Barring a typhoon, no decision will be made about whether or not the game will be played until very close to gametime, or even after. The reason for that is simple: Weather is a nutty thing. No one can truly predict it, especially in San Francisco
Look at Opening Day — all reports were that there was ZERO chance the game would be played, and not only did it start right on time, it didn’t rain a drop until the game ended.
So if you’re trying to decide at 4 p.m. whether to come out to the yard, you’ll have to make that call on your own. Right now, the Giants have every intention to play the game if the weather allows. The grounds crew has several pumps running on the tarp and they’re squeegeeing water off it as a very faint rain is falling.
According to weather.com, the chance of rain drops dramatically sometime in the 6 p.m. hour, which means there’s a good chance they’ll at least be able to start the game and try to get in the required five innings. Again, just my amateur reading of that weather.com page, not anything official.
Stay tuned for updates here and at sfgiants.com.
Here’s an e-mail I just received from the Giants, reiterating what I put in the unofficial update and giving some info about tomorrow’s On-Field Photo Day (by the way, the rain has completely stopped here — yay!):
today’s weather and early opening of the ballpark for batting practice,
please know that we have opened the Willie Mays Plaza Gate at 4:15 PM
as planned. The San Francisco Giants will make every effort to play the
game tonight and games through the weekend.
There are no plans to cancel/postpone any game(s).
With regard to Adobe Systems On-field Photo Day planned for
tomorrow, should the weather be inclement and prevent us from allowing
fans onto the field, Photo Day will be rescheduled for pre-game on July
4th when the Giants take on the Houston Astros. As a reminder, to
participate in Photo Day, you may line up along the Portwalk area for
admittance onto the field at approximately 10:30 AM.
We urge you to head on out, as planned, for a great weekend of Giants
baseball at AT&T Park – named America’s Best Baseball Park by
The San Francisco Giants
Chris Andrews, chief of public programs and director of the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences, holds Balthazar, a red-tail boa constrictor, while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Then yesterday, as part of Star Trek Night, a number of fans participated in a pregame costume contest. Before the final judging, J.J. Abrams, director of the upcoming “Star Trek” movie, greeted fans on the video board, which also showed a trailer of the film. Here are the lucky costume contest finalists:
Don’t think ill of the dude in the middle: He’s being introduced to the crowd and soliciting applause as part of the judging. Speaking of which, Paramount Pictures representatives, folks from event sponsor Esurance and Giants relief pitcher Bob Howry picked the winner, based on applause and their own opinions. The lovely green gal (speaking of Earth Day) at right was the lucky choice — she got admission to a special advance screening of “Star Trek” and presumably a wicked case of frostbite. Seriously, it was bitterly cold and windy at the yard last night, and she deserved to win if only for the brave amount of skin she exposed.
There will be more colorful characters at the ballpark Wednesday night when the Giants host their annual Carnaval Night. Drop by Willie Mays Plaza and Lefty O’Doul Plaza starting at 5 p.m. for pregame entertainment featuring Latin dancers and drummers.
Friday night is the first of three editions of the wildly popular Singles Night, with a pregame party in Scoreboard Plaza, and don’t forget that the Willie Mays Gate opens an hour earlier than normal (4:15 p.m.) that night so fans can watch the Giants take batting practice.
Yeah, I’m reusing the headline I wrote on the Giants homepage, but it’s too perfect not to. On Tuesday at AT&T Park, there was a stir the likes of which I haven’t seen the height of the Barry Bonds home run chases. Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao appeared as part of the first Filipino Heritage Night of the year, and he drew attention like a rock star wherever he went.
In addition to a huge media contingent, from boxing magazines and Web sites to HBO to local Filipino newspapers. channels and sites, the crowd was swelled by an extra 11,000 tickets sold just for Filipino Heritage Night. That translated into a nice $50,000 check presented by the Giants to local Filipino groups.
Last year, the first Filipino Heritage Night smashed all records for tickets sold to one of these special group nights, with over 5,000 tickets purchased. The Giants even had to issue vouchers for the commemorative T-shirt because they ran out. This year, the giveaway was an extremely cool Pacquiao bobblehead, which is now a hot item on eBay. There was also a special T-shirt with Pacquiao’s nifty Nike logo in orange on sale at the ballpark. You can see Amy Gutierrez wearing the shirt in this video:
Before Pacquiao entered the field for the ceremonial first pitch to a HUGE ovation, there was a nice dance performance by the very colorful Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble. Because people were rushing around in preparation for Pacquiao’s entrance, they kept walking in front of the camera, so this video is very short and features a jump-cut in the middle, but you get the idea:
When I arrived at AT&T Park around 10 a.m. Sunday, the first-base side of the lower deck was already teeming with young fans, enjoying the Giants’ annual Youth Baseball Day. Hundreds of Little Leaguers, Pony Leaguers, Police Athletic Leaguers and more enjoyed a question-and-answer session, hosted by broadcaster and former Major Leaguer Mike Krukow and featuring bullpen coach Mark Gardner, pitchers Jeremy Affeldt and Joe Martinez and infielder Emmanuel Burriss.
Affeldt (above), as usual, was a riot. When asked what his favorite pregame meal is, he jokingly gave the parent-approved answer of “salad! And fruit!” Another young player asked if he enjoyed motorcycling, and he replied that since his bosses were around, “No! I do NOT enjoy motorcycles.”
Martinez, still sporting the wicked black eye he suffered along with a concussion and three hairline skull fractures when hit by a line drive on April 9, gamely answered questions about whether it hurt to get hit and how many strikeouts he has this season. He said his most embarrassing moment in baseball was making it on SportsCenter for the first time but having it be for getting cracked in the head with the ball (hey Joe, nothing to be embarrassed about there — your doctor called you superhuman). Martinez was asked to demonstrate his pitching motion, but Krukow quickly interjected and reminded the crowd that Martinez is restricted from any physical activity for at least another three or four weeks.
After the Q&A, the kids got to participate in a pregame parade around the field before enjoying the game from their bleacher seats. The budding pitchers in the crowd got a great lesson from Randy Johnson, who no-hit the D-backs for six innings in earning his 296th career win. Tip No. 1, kids: Scowl.
Last night, the Giants opened the AT&T Park gates an hour earlier than normal for the first time this season, part of a special program where they’ll do that for every Friday and Saturday night home game so fans can see the entirety of the Giants’ batting practice.
Previously, the gates opening two hours before gametime would mean the earliest arriving fans would see perhaps the tail end of the Giants taking BP and all of the visitors. Now, with the gates opening three hours prior on Friday and Saturday nights, fans can see the home team stretch, take infield and swing away.
Each early opening will include an “Orange Plate Special” at the concession stands (last night, it was a meal deal of a hot dog, peanuts and soda) and 20 BP baseballs will be specially marked so fans who end up with them can redeem them for a prize.
As we sit here hoping the rain holds off long enough to get at least part of this game in (it’s been dry for the last hour), some of the players participated in the now-traditional ritual of handing out Opening Day calendars to unsuspecting fans as they entered the gates at AT&T Park.
While most fans were thrilled to get their calendar from Matt Cain and snap a few photos, one gentleman held up his hand and shook his head when Cain offered a calendar.
At another gate, some fans couldn’t identify new reliever Jeremy Affeldt, but he took it in stride when one fan wished “Brian” a great season. “I’m not Brian [Wilson], but thanks!” Affeldt cheerfully replied.
Below, a young fan is so engrossed by the calendar, he doesn’t even notice a player is the one handing it to him. After being told, he stared with his mouth open for a full minute.
No, the title doesn’t refer to one of those hideous Giants/A’s split caps — it’s describing the Giants’ recent announcement of efforts to be the greenest ballpark in the Majors.
By the end of the year, the Giants plan to have AT&T Park become the first Major League facility to earn U.S. Green Building Council certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance. Conservation steps they’ve already taken include being the first MLB park to install a solar energy system, advances in irrigation practices (including a cool-sounding “irrigation clock” that receives weather conditions, including “evapotranspiration” information, to establish watering times) and adding energy-efficient office equipment to the executive offices.
Two of the cooler green inititatives fans will notice:
The Green Team — Employees wearing special uniforms and badges made from recycled material will help fans with recycling and composting of ballpark trash. During the seventh-inning stretch, fans can pass their trash to Green Team members.
The green garlic fries stand — The popular promenade level garlic fries stand behind home plate has been converted into a sustainable concession stand. It has new Henny Penny open fryers (love that name), a Coca-Cola Energy Management System Cooler, more efficient lighting, signs made from 100 percent biodegrable and recyclable materials, environmentally friendly paint, recyclable drink cups and compostable trays. The energy saved by this stand is enough to fry 110 tons of garlic fries a season. Fun fact: 800 pounds of garlic fries are made at this stand every game.
Oh, the entire ballpark is now a no-smoking facility — the smoking areas are no more.