Part II: Let’s Play Two… sort of!
After spending some of Saturday attempting to catch up on sleep and blogging, I was already looking forward to the next couple days in San Diego. I had already obtained lower bowl tickets to the Sunday festivities thanks to MasterCard, so we knew it was going to be a great day. My sister wasn’t feeling quite 100 percent, but she definitely didn’t want to miss this event… and we got a plethora of pictures to show for it.
Our original plan was to get to the Fan Fest early in the day and partake in some more of the activities that we may have missed. However, Jacky wasn’t feeling all that well… yet she really wanted to see what the Futures Game had in store, and especially how the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game would pan out. Honestly, we were both pretty excited to see that final card. More on that game later.
Arriving safely in San Diego, we immediately noticed how dressed up Petco Park really was. The red, white, and blue décor was out in full force. The new jumbotron was looking better than ever. Even the staircases in the main home plate entrance was all dressed up! San Diego was looking marvelous. We arrived early for batting practice… it was already packed with plenty of ballhawks! As it turned out, we didn’t get a ball during batting practice this time. There was just too many people there to maneuver around. But, it was great to meet up with a couple people before the game, including a couple hockey friends of mine who made the trip down from the IE.
We noticed the incredible beer selection that Petco Park offered, but some of their rules for this weekend were a bit… asinine… more on THAT later. The food specifically for this weekend was much more improved… including the addition of local favorite, Hodad’s in both the lower and upper levels of the ballpark. I decided to give that place a try, and I was not disappointed. I had the bacon single cheeseburger with fries, but these were thick pieces of bacon and even thicker cut fries than I anticipated. This food really hits the spot and is a welcome addition to Petco Park. Hopefully, this place stays for a long period of time.
Before the game began, there were plenty of flags all around the pitcher’s mound for the World vs. USA matchup. The US side had some incredible talent on their side starting with Joe Musgrove who is a highly touted pitching prospect for the Houston Astros organization, and who had tons of local support near me. He is from El Cajon, California, which is just down the street from Petco Park. He had the honor of pitching the 1st inning for the US team. He has a high-90s fastball with some movement. A couple other AAA players to watch out for were Jeff Hoffman from the Rockies’ farm system with excellent secondary pitches, and hard-hitting Alex Bregman who is also with the Astros’ organization. Yes, Houston was very well represented in this Futures Game for the US.
On the World team, they were absolutely loaded with out-of-this-world talent. Alex Reyes was the starting pitcher for the World Team. He can only be described as a flame throwing phenom with the capability to reach triple-digits on the radar; he is with the Cardinals organization. Another player I was rooting for was pitcher, Jharel Cotton because he was with the Dodgers farm system. Two other players I had to keep an eye on was Yoan Moncada (Red Sox AA), and Francisco Mejia (Indians A+ at the time) who was in the middle of an amazing hitting streak.
The game itself had plenty of highlights worthy of the Top 10 plays. Joe Musgrove had some great defense behind him as he made his friends and family proud in his one inning pitched. For the World team, Alex Reyes was electric pitching 1 and 2/3 innings and striking out 4 US batters. To be honest, Reyes only made one mistake pitch in his outing that missed his spot. Aside from that, he kept hitters on their heels and made them look foolish. One of the big highlights came from Eloy Jimenez who reached over the right field foul fence and leaped to make a spectacular catch. Actually, that play was more of a robbery than anything!
During the game, I met up with my buddy from the Ontario Reign, fellow broadcaster, Joesph Zakrewski who decided to come on down and check out the action from my seats. He brought down his awesome Houston Astros jersey, something I greatly admired as his jersey also paid tribute to the astronauts of the fallen space shuttle Columbia. Joey was proud to see the boys from his Astros doing so well, although were we just enjoying the entire atmosphere.
As for the rest of the game, the US team had a 3-2 lead going into the top of the 8th inning, but that’s when things completely fell apart for the Americans. Moncada blasted a deep home run in the 8th to give the World team a 4-3 lead after 8 innings. Then in the top of the 9th, the game was blown open. Spurred by an Eloy Jimenez 3-run blast, the World went on the score 7 runs in the top of the 9th! J.T. Chargois (Minnesota AAA) and Ryne Stanek (Tampa Bay AA) combined to give up all 7 runs in that frame. Actually, Chargois only faced 3 batters and left the bases loaded when Stanek came in and allowed all those inherited runs… and then some in. The World team won 11-3, but it was a grand time had by most of the fans. Yoan Moncada came away with the MVP award for the game, and it was well-deserved as he had a stellar game.
Immediately following the Futures Game, I tried purchasing some hard root beer from the beer carts behind home plate, but they had a ridiculous rule that all alcohol sales were to be suspended after the top of the 7th inning of the first game, and couldn’t be sold again until the start of the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. This silly rule cost me a chance to try some of their hard root beer. Oh well, it’s their loss. Instead, my sister and I walked around the Park at the Park and got some more pictures including one with a flower wall specifically for the All Star festivities. So, at least there was that!
As for the celebrity game, itself…. craziness was the best word to describe the whole game. The teams were divided between “Leagues” and would play six innings of slow pitch softball… for the most part. The National League would bat first and leading off for them was living legend and one-time Padre, Ozzie Smith. He still looks quite spry for his age! Some of the other legends to play for the National League roster included Rollie Fingers, David Wells, Andre Dawson, and Trevor Hoffman! Each of them had so much fun out there, especially David Wells who was conversing with Jennie Finch most of the time.
The American League showcased Rickey Henderson leading off and trying to get through the bases as quickly as possible to show off that he still had the speed he was so famous for. Tim Raines was another legend on that team who played some exceptional defense throughout the game. More infamously, that team featured Landon Donovan, Jamie Foxx, and a shirtless-for-one-at-bat Terry Crews who ended up unceremoniously striking out in the game. That… erm… “highlight” ended up making the SportsCenter Not Top 10 for that week. It was that hilarious in person! Oh, remember how I said that this game was slow pitch most of the game? Well, Jennie Finch hurled a couple fast pitches to the AL team just to mess with them and really get the crowd going!
The game itself actually got competitive towards the very end with the National League leading 6-5 going into the bottom of the 5th inning. Then right away, the AL struck back and tallied three runs to take an 8-6 lead going into the final inning. That’s when the NL tried to make a furious comeback… but a play at the plate ended the game and the American League celebrities and legends took him the 8-7 victory and celebrated like they just won the championship. It was a dramatic ending to an otherwise entertaining game!
Overall, this was one of the best days I could have asked for with friends and my sister. We ended up having such a blast. The food was terrific, the gameplay was fun to watch, the silliness definitely showed as the night wore on. Would I do this again? Absolutely! Thank you all for reading, and I hope to see you at the ballpark!