Game Two Recap: O.co Coliseum

Hello Everyone!

Thanks for finding the blog, please enjoy the video we made reviewing O.Co in Oakland. This is game 2 of 30, in our quest to see 30 games in 30 days. Thanks again for all of your support, online and in person.  It is so great to meet and interact you!

~ Brian & Tim

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Game Two Write-Up: O.Co Coliseum

O.co Game 2
Game #2

With our kick-off in the books, the ball had officially (to mix our sports metaphors) started rolling on our adventuresome trip.  Immediately at the conclusion of the Mariners game, we were on the road to Oakland.  13 hours to make a 12 hour drive. There would be little sleep and no time to explore the surrounding area before this one.  As Brian took the first shift driving through the night, Tim attempted some valuable sleep. By the time the sun rose over the California Hills, we had both slept a few hours, and (other than the lack of a shower) we were fresh as we could be for game two.

Around the Park
Parking around the park was a no-brainer for Oakland. Given the tight timetable, our only realistic option was to dock in the stadium parking lots. The park is right off the highway, so there were little options around the park (a stark contrast to our Mariners experience). We arrived 1 hour before the game and found a mixture of fans tailgating.

External Aesthetics
Well, all the critiques we had read and heard regarding the external aesthetics were vindicated.  Even on a beautiful, sunny day, the stadium looked cold and uninviting.  The large concrete structure is in stark contrast to the recent trend of intimate feeling parks.  And why should it?  It’s a football stadium.  Everything from the metal fencing separating fan entrances to the NFL signage, the stadium screamed “not a place for baseball.”
O.co External

Tickets
We opted for walk-up tickets again and were pleasantly surprised by the prices and customer service offered.  The salesperson walked us through our options and their respective pros and cons.  For instance, the third deck, while very high up, features $5 worth of free food in the price. One of the consistently positive aspects we heard about O.co was its fans in the outfield bleachers, so we opted for those tickets.  The seating out there is first come-first serve (much like Wrigley bleachers back home).

Internal Aesthetics
Walking in and around the park, the pervasive thought was: football. Concrete as far as the eye can see.  Many of the staircases were blocked off (because the A’s block off a majority of the 3rd deck seating). Even though this is where the A’s play all of their home games (and have since they moved to Oakland in 1968), the internal aesthetics reminded us of the years that the Nationals still played in RFK before moving into Nationals Park.
O.co Internal

Seats
The bleachers were easy to find and provided a great view of the field. As the stadium began to fill up, we were treated to the antics of the Crazies in our RF seats.  Soccer-style cheers and bass drums booming fueled the fan experience in the outfield.  While it didn’t compare with the views of downtown Seattle, we could view both of the new video boards, and were only shielded from the edge of the warning track in center and right field.
O.co Seats

Entertainment and Amenities
The entertainment and amenities in Oakland were the fans.  There were not any specific locations designed for families or children. There were a few mid-inning games, but the majority of media on the video boards showcased the dancing and waving MVP of the stadium, the Oakland fanbase.

O.co Fans
Even 30 minutes before first pitch, the Crazies were doing their thing

Fans
As we already alluded to, the fans were outstanding at O.Co.  They were engaged in the baseball throughout the game and ratcheted up in the intensity for the key moments (strikeout to end a threat, Billy Burns stealing both 2nd and 3rd base, etc.). The stadium was packed, granted this may have been because the Yankees were in town, but the atmosphere was much more passionate than the previous day’s game.

Shout-out to the Athletics
Just as in Seattle, the Athletics learned about our journey through Twitter and decided to feature us during one of their in-between inning games.  A tough multiple-choice question, which we were able to answer correctly!  Our reward was a coupon for free bacon for our entire section in the bleachers. Very cool Oakland, thank you.

Overall
O.Co was better than we expected.  The fans were outstanding and helped make the stadium feel as welcoming and warm as the 75 degree sun did.  Unfortunately, all the kindness and fandom the A’s could muster was not enough to overcome the giant concrete structure looming over us, dominating our experience.  We were left wondering what this fanbase would do with a designated baseball facility.  In our research, all the publicity and praise goes to the team on the west side of the Bay.  But these fans in Oakland were just as passionate and caring about their baseball, if not more.  They deserve better.
O.co Final

Speaking of that “other side of the Bay” team, The Giants are our next destination, whose proximity provided us some much needed time to rest after our mad dash from Seattle.  A stop at In-N-Out (a no-brainer for two guys from IL, a land devoid of such a delicacy) and a night in a downtown hotel is just what the doctor ordered to rejuvenate us in preparation for the famed AT&T Park.

~ Brian and Tim
(for more pics, make sure you check out our Facebook page, which is linked on the left of the site)

Game One Write-Up: Safeco Field

Safeco Game 1
Game #1

After our extensively exhausting 30 hour trek across the country, we had finally made it!  Our friend Hayley was nice enough to put us up for the night in Seattle.  Sleep never felt better.  We had considered the size of the vehicle, the time availability, and the accessories required (sleep mask, ear plugs, etc.) for proper sleep throughout our journey… but never once had we considered the actual mobility of the car. Turns out, twisting and turning through the mountains did not prove conducive to sound sleep.  Hayley’s house was very much immobile.

We met up with some more friends, had lunch, and took in the sights and sounds of Seattle.  The Sound, Pike’s Place Market, even Mt. Rainier was out to welcome us to the city.  But we had business to attend to:

Around the Park
We reviewed transportation options and decided to park near, but not at, the stadium.  We found fairly inexpensive parking in downtown Seattle that was nearby both tourist attractions and the ballpark (www.seattle.gov/epark proved helpful).  As we approached Safeco, we walked right by its neighbor, CenturyLink Field (hosts Seahawks football and Sounder soccer games).  The pathway between both stadiums (Occidental Ave) serves as a defacto fan walk-up area where street vendors gather to sell food and merchandise.  The standard peanuts and hot dogs were there, but many of the vendors offered different and more interesting specialized foods.  If you’re looking for change up in gameday cuisine, give it a look.
Safeco Approach

External Aesthetics
Giant, exposed green metal beams protruded from the top of the stadium, and while that doesn’t exactly sound inviting, the stadium itself had a very welcoming, almost suburban-home feel thanks to its white and red brick facade.  The signage was modern and appealing.  The stadium staff was plentiful and helpful.  Just avoid 1st Ave if approaching by car (we saw 4 people get pulled over there in just the 10-15 minutes we were walking around the stadium, for doing seemingly harmless things).
Safeco Exterior

Tickets
The walk-up and online ticket prices were fairly expensive: $25 for cheapest upper deck and $45 for cheapest lower deck.  We opted for the cheapest upper deck seats, thinking the seat location would be fairly inconsequential as we traversed the park.  Turns out, we hit the jackpot and didn’t even know it.  More on that later.

Internal Aesthetics
The inside concourses of the stadium have a very modern-industrial feel, large exposed HVAC pipes and very focused lighting are prevalent as the entire interior of the park featured the same exposed green metal and white brick as was visible outside the park.  Signage was frequent and informative.  Despite having never been here before, we indeed felt right at home.
Safeco Interior

Seats
We had finished our tour and made our way to the seats where a ticket usher greeted us and checked our tickets.  She laughed and pointed upward, “You’re in the penthouse” she snickered, “the very last row.”  She wasn’t lying, we were literally in the last row of seats in the entire ballpark.  As we marched up the seemingly endless rows of stairs, we were sure these seats would be awful.  They turned out to be the show-stealer.  Any seats in the upper deck down the 1B/RF line feature any absolutely gorgeous view of downtown Seattle.  The Sound and its Ferris wheel, the skyline, and neighboring CenturyLink proved to be a breathtaking background for baseball.
Safeco Seats

Entertainment and Amenities
Around the park, we found plenty of family-friendly activities.  There’s an area for children to play in, a fast-pitch booth to test your fastball, and a den where Mariner Moose (mascot) was taking photos.  For the adults, there was a large and very popular sports bar in LF and plenty of interesting food options (seafood & chowder was a personal favorite).  There was also “the train” which would blow its very, very loud horn about once an inning and whose tracks lie just outside the stadium behind CF/RF.  The video boards (MarinersVision) were very impressive and featured truly entertaining content.  Simple player information became fodder for humorous puns or wordplay and the standard half-inning races or shell games had interesting twists.
Safeco Entertainment

Fans
The attendance, while not announced, was somewhere around 50%.  For a beautiful Saturday night, we were a little surprised, but we had already heard the joke that the Mariners were the “fourth team” in Seattle (behind the Seahawks, the Sounders, and even the defunct Supersonics).  But even the fans that were there did not seem very involved in the game.  We definitely expected more fan engagement in the city famous for its “12th man.”

Shout-out to the Mariners
The Mariners, having heard about our journey, gave us free gift bags that featured plenty of Mariners merchandise to wish us well on our way.  Definitely something they didn’t need to do.  Thank you!

Overall
Safeco was beautiful.  Its views were stunning.  It was entertaining and accommodating, irrelevant of the day’s game.  Its fans were ok, but did not meet our expectations (full disclosure: that could be a problem with our expectations).  It was a great start to the trip.
Safeco Final Safeco Overall

Sadly, we barely had any time to savor the stadium.  We had 13 hours until our next game in Oakland and a 12 hour drive ahead of us… see you in California.

~ Brian and Tim
(for more pics, make sure you check out our Facebook page, which is linked on the left of the site)

Clouds, Cold, and Cowboys

We intentionally planned to tackle the toughest drive first and boy, were we right to do so. Minnesota brought persistent rain and annoying stretches of construction. The rain stretched into and throughout North Dakota, but the construction was replaced with a surprising coldsnap. When we set out in 80 degree weather in Illinois, we most certainly hadn’t anticipated mid-40s just a handful of hours later. All of this was in addition to the stark and unremarkable (read: boring) landscape of both states.

We’re now in Montana, where we’ll spend as much time driving as we did in Minnesota and North Dakota combined. No sooner had we cross the state line when we saw a group of actual cowboys. The weather has warmed, the landscape has become interesting, and the clouds have all but evaporated. Things are looking up. Until we realize that we’re only about halfway to Seattle.

Brian brought a sleeping mask and slept for 5 hours. Tim did not and slept for 2 hours. The outlet adapter, which is a fairly important lynchpin in the ability to work remotely, has already burnt out.

Some ups, some downs, a lot of average. Perfect symmetry for a baseball trip. Oh, and some really weird goose statue.


     ~ Brian and Tim

And So It Begins!

We are officially on the road!!

Left Chicago this evening, proceeded to hit several stores to pick up some last minute items, and now we’re cruising through Wisconsin en route to Seattle.  Just think: in 24 hours… we’ll still have 3 more hours of driving left.  Whoa.

But do not fret, we’re crisscrossing the nation in style in our silver 2015 Hyundai Sonata; surprisingly roomy and came with XM radio.  We have more technology running through cigarette lighters than should be humanly possible.  Brian came prepared with Game of Thrones on tape, as well as lingual courses in Spanish, French, and German… so dass wir tatsächlich etwas lernen.

It’s pitch black, so no fun pics just quite yet.  Well, that’s not entirely true…
Starting Line

We’ll try to post some vids later.  Make sure to check out our tweets for more up to the minute information.  Here’s to the journey ahead!

~ Brian and Tim