New season, new stuff (OK, mostly food)
The Giants held their annual media open house Wednesday, unveiling some upgrades to the ballpark and highlighting promotions and special events slated for the upcoming season. Of course, the big attractions as usual were the food offerings, as AT&T Park continues to find new ways of expanding fans’ waistlines in all sorts of delicious manners.
First, in non-food-related news, perhaps the most visible change to the ballpark will be out next to the Coca-Cola Fan Lot (where the Coke bottle, incidentally, will have a fresh paint job in honor of a seven-year extension of the soda company’s partnership with the Giants).
Gone is the Build-A-Bear Workshop and in its place will be a new social media center, which “will display social chatter of Giants fans in real time including tweets, photos from Instagram and polls from Facebook, all in real time.” The center, which will be named during its grand opening, will also feature a Peet’s Coffee Bar.
Also notable on the Promenade level: The From the Clubhouse shop, where fans can buy authenticated and game-used items, has been relocated and expanded to a spot right where fans enter the concourse off the ramp inside Willie Mays Gate. Nearby is a newly expanded ticket office and a large new walk-in Guest Services center, next to the Gilroy Garlic Fries stand.
The Giants will continue to lead the Majors in cool giveaways, which are listed here and include many World Series champions items, three bobbleheads, two gnomes and Giants announcers bottle stoppers.
The special events calendar also is packed, with highlights including Metallica Night, Elvis Presley Night and Until There’s a Cure Day featuring a Rod Beck bobblehead. A personal favorite: On Social Media Night (July 26), the Giants will recognize an idea posted to the McCovey Chronicles blog and give away a Marco Scutaro rain globe, in tribute to Scutaro’s legendary pose in the rain during the NLCS-clinching game. Both the fan who posted the idea to McC and the blogger who runs it will be included in the night’s events.
Remember that all special events require a special ticket in order to receive the giveaway item and participate in pregame parties.
Lots of sponsorship news, including Coca-Cola partnering with the Giants for a “Salute to the Military” program and Mumm Napa releasing two new Giants-branded sparkling wines. Fans will also be happy to hear the ballpark will have more than double the number of WiFi access points this season, as well as the addition of more than 400 mobile charging points.
But let’s get to what draws the most attention: the ballpark food. Pop-up bistros will appear at AT&T Park, and they’ll only be advertised on the @sfgiantfoodie Twitter feed, a la food trucks.
The list of new and featured stands, kiosks, carts and offerings is long, so I’ll paste it in directly at the bottom, after a selection of photos from the media open house. Keep in mind that the portion sizes shown here are much smaller than normal, since we’re sampling a wide range of offerings.
Poutine fries (fries with brown gravy and white cheddar cheese — alas, not traditional cheese curds)
SF Giant roll from Mashi’s Sushi.
Lamb burger from Murph’s Pub, Idaho Russet potatoes and buttery mashed potatoes from the Emerald Isle Potato Bar.
Original Joe’s burgers will be available at the Derby Grill Specialty Burger Stand on the Promenade level in left field. (The burgers were cut into very tiny pieces, so not photogenic.)
Giuseppe Bazurro’s popular Greek salad and chicken Caesar are now available as wraps.
Here’s the full food rundown from the press materials:
Promenade & View Levels
Vintage 58: A new wine bar with an exclusive location behind home plate on the Promenade Level featuring tasting room décor and offering selected varietals from various regions.
McCovey’s BBQ Restaurant Kiosk: A new location for McCovey’s tasty BBQ at the top of O’Doul’s Gate featuring pulled pork nachos.
Say Hey Sausage Kiosk: A new portable kiosk on the Promenade Level featuring a variety of specialty sausages including Atomic Hot & Half Pound Polish kielbasa sausage and Bavarian Pretzels.
Chicago Dog Cart: Located directly behind home plate on the Promenade Level featuring the Original Chicago Dog with all the authentic toppings.
Lefty O’Doul’s Bar: Another San Francisco icon joins the team at AT&T Park. This satellite location of the historic Lefty O’Doul’s bar located at Union Square, features their famous Bloody Mary mix, specialty cocktails and is located at the top of the O’Doul Gate.
Original Joe’s Burger: The Derby Grill Specialty Burger Stand located on the Promenade Level in Left Field, will feature the exact recipe of the iconic Original Joe’s burger.
Other new Items found throughout the ballpark: Pannini sandwiches, Poutine Fries — French fries smothered with beef gravy & white cheddar; Mumm’s Sparkling Wine; Carmel topped Ghirardelli hot cocoa; and field roast artesian vegetarian sausages.
Field Club & Virgin America Club Levels
Pop Ups: Playing on the popularity of mobile food carts, pop-up bistros will be advertised only via the @sfgiantfoodie Twitter feed. #GiantPopUp will feature treats not currently available at the ballpark, including made-to-order hot pastrami sandwiches and knish, oysters on the half shell, hot apple cider and warm turnovers filled with Frog Hollow Farms fruit preserves.
Ferry Terminal Seafood: In partnership with Ferry Terminal Seafood, the new Club Level seafood cart located near the Carvery and Section 234 will offer up such favorites as New England and Manhattan clam chowder, shrimp and crab Louis, seafood cocktails, and freshly baked sourdough bread. Still and sparkling wine by the glass.
Emerald Isle Potato Bar: A baked potato concept located next to Murph’s Pub on the Club Level. Like Long Taters, Emerald Isle will feature extra-large baked Idaho potatoes and buttery mashed potatoes with an array of classic toppings.
Farmer’s Market: A brand-new look for the Farmer’s Market, located on the Club Level. The mercantile offers locally grown produce, fresh fruit aguas frescas, strawberry shortcake, seasonal pies and gelato. Indulge a savory appetite with seasonal vegetable antipasti and a wine bar specializing in sustainable and locally crafted wines both on tap and from the bottle.
Joe Garcia’s: New items available at Joe Garcia’s include: Crisp griddled gorditas topped with a house pickled cabbage and jalapeno slaw; Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries; and a Burrito Bowl featuring char grilled chicken, ancho chile rubbed skirt steak, carnitas or chile lime marinated white fish served with Spanish rice and topped with classic burrito fillings.
Guiseppi Barzurro’s: New items available at Guiseppi Barzurro’s include the favorite Greek and chicken Caesar salads available in wraps and a Grilled Eggplant Sandwich featuring balsamic, thyme and garlic marinated eggplant grilled and topped with roasted red bell peppers, goat cheese, salsa verde and baby arugula on a baguettini.
Mashi’s Sushi: New items available at Mashi’s Sushi include SF “Giant” Roll-ahi tuna, avocado, bok choy, shiso, green onion, fried tofu and scichimi aioli create one giant roll; Sashimi Bowls with ahi tuna or arctic char garnished with shiso and mayo with a choice of brown or white rice; and Tofu and Bok Choy in a lemon-grass green curry topped with ice peppers served over brown or white rice.
Murph’s Pub: The Irish Lamburger served with Guinness caramelized onions and Irish Cheddar will be a new item on the popular menu.
Krukow may remind fans to bring their gloves, but it’s fair to say they should also bring their appetites.
New season, new look
We’re back! The Giants‘ annual media open house had so much interesting stuff, I just had to share it, and that seems like as good of an excuse as any to revive this too-long-dormant MLBlog.
The media open house is an annual event the Giants hold where they invite — duh — the media to learn about AT&T Park improvements, promotions, marketing campaigns and food items that will be prominent in the upcoming season. The event is usually held on the field and in the Field Club, but this year, it was moved to the club level.
Make that the Virgin America Club level. Thanks to an expanded partnership with the San Francisco-based airline, the club level has been rebranded as the Virgin America Club. Flight attendants greeted the media as we went up the escalator to the club level, and the new look of the escalator trumpeted the partnership in a big way. Yep, that’s a mockup of the inside of a Virgin America plane, featuring their signature mood lighting. The lighting (purples, grays, reds) is subtly repeated in various areas of the club level itself.
The Virgin America sponsorship also includes the introduction of “Fly Bye Baby,” the newest member of the Virgin America fleet. It’s an Airbus A320, and Giants games and feature programming will be featured on Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment system. See a photo of the beard-wearing plane here.
The club level also includes the Virgin America Flight Deck, which the Giants describe as a “hip, outdoor club-like environment” behind sections 229-230, overlooking Second and King streets (it’s the same location where Switchfoot performed last year). It will include new seating, the Widmer Brothers Fan Haus bar and two fire pits surrounded by wind screens to create a more protected fan environment.
After covering promotions (including four bobbleheads, two gnomes and two World Series team reunions) and the new commercials, the Giants discussed major capital improvements to the ballpark. First and foremost, the goal with the offseason renovations has been to enhance views, improve traffic flow and create a more open feeling overall. It’s noticeable right away in the main Promenade level concourses.
The overhead hanging signs have all been removed, and the lighting has been improved. They’ve also moved all the food carts wedged behind the lower bowl seating to the opposite side of the concourse, mostly in new nooks created along the outer wall.
It wouldn’t be media day without some bathrooms news, and restrooms along the Promenade level have been reconfigured, with the left-field one getting additional capacity.
A new men’s room behind section 132-133 has what the Giants are calling “Northern California’s best view from a public bathroom,” looking out to the Bay Bridge (and another larger window overlooks MoMo’s, but don’t worry — they’re pretty high up in the wall).
The Bullpen Box, a premium group seating area next to the visitors dugout, is being turned into the Corona Beach Club. It’ll include a small sandy beach, two Adirondack chairs and other beach-themed amenities.
As you may have read previously, another notable change is coming down the left-field line, where the congested narrow bridge near the Coca-Cola Fan Lot is being replaced with a new area spanning the entire width of the Fan Lot. It’s called Ghirardelli Square South and will include a Ghirardelli location plus a full concession stand that will include garlic fries and (I’m told) the popular Sheboygan brats.
Little Giants Park, the mini ballpark in the Fan Lot, is also being renovated to open up the views toward the Bay Bridge and to add a padded left-field wall just like the real park.
Out behind the scoreboard, the upper concessions area has been dubbed Anchor Plaza and will include an Anchor Brewery Tap Room kiosk. We were told that more Anchor Steam beer is sold at AT&T Park than any other location in the world.
Finally, media day wouldn’t be complete without a whole lot of food. Seriously, I think some media members attend the open house just for the food offerings. Some of these are new items; others will be available in new locations. Here’s a sampling (note that many of these selections are presented in mini sizes just for media day, since there are so many choices available):
Lions ring in busy homestand
Tuesday was not only the start of a nine-game homestand for the Giants at AT&T Park, it was Chinese Heritage Night, one of many special events slated for the ballpark during the season. Those with special pre-purchased tickets, proceeds of which will benefit local Chinese charities, received a Giants-themed “Year of the Tiger” figurine.
Pregame entertainment featured the always-amazing lion dancers, a video of which is embedded below. Check out Lou Seal having some fun with his new friend partway through the video.
The remainder of the homestand is jam-packed with promotions and special events, including:
Wednesday: Crazy Crab crab feed and Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Night
Thursday: Day baseball!
Friday: College Night and Healthcare Night
Saturday: Brewfest at the Park, Exploratorium Day and Giants cap giveaway
Sunday: Giants skateboard deck giveaway (shown at right)
Monday: Day baseball! Giants stars and stripes T-shirt giveaway
Tuesday: Irish Heritage Night
Wednesday: Senior Appreciation Night, Girls Softball Night with Jennie Finch and San Jose Giants Night
A special note about Monday’s Memorial Day game: Not only is it a day game, but Tim Lincecum is scheduled to make his 100th Major League start against Rockies ace (and no-hitter owner) Ubaldo Jimenez. Best of all, that game is a Giants Dynamic Deal of the Week, with View Level tickets available for just $7. See you at the yard!
A sneak peek
(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:
You don’t see that every day
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.
Pac-Man fever hits AT&T Park
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:
Plenty more Heritage Nights and special group events are planned, including a second edition of Filipino Heritage Night, with a cool Filipino-themed Giants T-shirt, on Sept. 16.
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.
Don’t I know you?
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.
Aloha to the Giants
The Giants return home Monday for a weeklong homestand, and prior to the opener against the Braves, there will be the latest addition to the Giants’ wildly successful heritage celebrations: the first Luau Night at AT&T Park.
Those who purchase a special game ticket will get admission to the pregame luau in Lot D, a free adult beverage or Polynesian food option and the awesome Lou Seal grass skirt bobbler.
Other discounts for Monday’s game include tickets in honor of the San Francisco Marathon and to support Project Homeless Connect. Tuesday is the first annual Girl Scout Night with special tickets available for Girl Scout troops and their friends and families.
On Tuesday, the Giants present the 11th annual Organ Donor Awareness Night. When Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner was a pitcher for the team, his wife, Lori, a former All-American softball player at Fresno State was diagnosed with liver cancer, receiving two transplants before her death in 2004. The Gardners became advocates for organ donations and the Giants supported the cause by holding Organ Donor Awareness events.
The first 10,000 fans at Tuesday’s game will get commemorative baseball cards of Giants players that include organ donation facts on one side.
Don’t forget Wednesday is a Tim Lincecum K-Zone game, with View Reserved tickets available for $7 thanks to the 13 strikeouts Lincecum, Jack Taschner and Sergio Romo racked up last Friday.
Saturday’s pitching matchup alone — All-Stars Tim Lincecum and Brandon Webb — should be worth the price of admission alone, especially when bleacher and view reserved seats are $11 off thanks to the ongoing K-Zone Ticket Offer. The first 20,000 fans will also get a Giants Greatest Moments postcard set.
If you get to the ballpark early, don’t expect to see batting practice. Instead, you can catch the always entertaining Family Softball Game, in which the children of the Giants players and coaches get to take over the field for their own contest. Here are some photos from the 2006 event (I wasn’t at the ballpark for last year’s game) — wow, none of those players are still with the team.
Sunday’s giveaway, when the Giants wrap up their lengthy homestand, will probably be one of the most popular of the year — Matt Cain bobbleheads. Get there early, since lines will likely form several hours before gametime. It’s also a matchup of Cy Young-winning lefties: Barry Zito vs. Randy Johnson.
So which is cooler, a Matt Cain bobblehead or the Crazy Crab bobblehead?
By the way, Friday’s Forever Giants Friday guest was Tito Fuentes, who’s now a color commentator for the Giants’ Spanish-language broadcasts.