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Saturday, June 21, 2003

What better way to celebrate the first day of summer than with the Game of Summer? Eric and I took my still-new Saturn and put some miles on it today, Santa Rosa to Oakland and back, on an adventure to the ballpark. Our team was playing the team from across the Bay, and we were venturing into enemy territory.

This was the first longish freeway drive since I got the car, and it performed perfectly. We left my house just after 3:30 this afternoon. That might seem a little early for a 7:00 game in a city that's only 65 miles away, but he reminded me that the NASCAR weekend at nearby Sears Point would be adding to the traffic, and we didn't want to have to rush.

It would be better to get there early than to have to fight our way into the Coliseum parking lot. There were bottlenecks here and there, but mostly the traffic flowed smoothly all the way. That's good, because I wasn't really sure where I was going. I haven't actually driven from Santa Rosa to the Oakland Coliseum since the 1989 earthquake knocked down the old freeway I used to take. Obviously, things had to have changed since then, but Eric lived in the East Bay for a while, and he knows the area better than I do.

You can tell I haven't been getting out much lately because it's not even called the Oakland Coliseum any more. It's been Network Associates Coliseum for several years now. And Sears Point, although it's still called that by most of us who have lived in the area for any length of time, is now Infineon Raceway.

I hope Network Associates and Infineon are getting their money's worth out of the naming rights they bought to those to venues, because I couldn't tell you for sure what either company actually does. They're both technology companies, I believe, but that really doesn't tell you much.

This being the first day of summer, it turns out that it's also the longest day of the year. I wish I'd remembered that when I decided I wouldn't need to wear a hat for a "night" game. That's probably true in theory, but we sat looking directly into the sun for the first three innings of the game. A baseball cap would have kept it out of my eyes; that's what they're for, you know. And I forgot the sunscreen, too, so there could be pain involved as well as squinting.

It was a great game, too. The Net (as it's called, I think) had a full house, nearly 53,000 people. The two local teams play each other only six times per season. Since this one was in Oakland, most of the people there were A's fans, but we Giants fans were a vocal minority.

Really, there was good humor all around, and enough action to keep both sides happy. I'm sure we were happier than they were, since the Giants won, but the A's spent the last three innings almost coming back and winning themselves, so their fans had plenty to cheer about as well. It was a real nail-biter, and it would have been a bad one to lose after things looked so promising for most of the game, but my team won, so I feel justified in calling it a very good game.

The game ended about ten, and it took us until nearly eleven to get out of the parking lot and back on the freeway headed north to Santa Rosa. I've never been afraid to drive in parking lots, though. It's all a matter of confidence. If you believe you're going to get to where you want to be, people will let you do it. We were in the wrong lane to get to the freeway onramp, but I had no trouble crossing six lanes of traffic to get where I needed to be. I just pretended I was king of the world, and my subjects backed off when they saw me coming. I should give lessons.

It was midnight when we got home, and Eric and I were still jazzed by the excitement of the game. I was still pretty pumped from the drive home, myself. I haven't driven that far in a long time. The last few years I had the old Honda, I was afraid to take it too far from home, for fear that I'd never get back here. Now that I have a reliable car, I'll get out more. Probably.

We talked all the way home, and then we stood out in my driveway and looked at the stars for a while. It was just too nice an evening to allow it to end any sooner than necessary, and there are a lot of stars to see out here in the country where I live. Besides, it was the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year isn't supposed to end too soon.

21 June 03

The view from our seats, well before game time. This was the only picture I took, partly because we were looking into the sun, and partly because the Net isn't one of the more photogenic ballyards.

My copy of the new J.K. Rowling book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (like I have to tell you the title!), was dropped off on my porch in time for me to get three chapters read before Eric got here to leave for the game. It's a huge, thick, long book, but it'll be hard for me to put it down. Since I read slowly, I'll be able to savor it longer than people who can read straight through 870 pages in one sitting.

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In case you want details (and I know most of you don't, so they're stuck down here in a smaller font), the Giants won, 6-4. They Giants led, 6-1, when their rookie pitcher Jerome Williams walked off the mound in the seventh inning, confident he was about to get his first major league victory. Things almost fell apart, but the Giants were able to save the win for Williams. Pedro Feliz, who doesn't play much, got a start in left field because the game was played in an American League park where the designated hitter is used. Feliz responded pretty well. He hit two home runs off the A's premier pitcher, Tim Hudson.

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