You got to hand it to the Giants’ marketing team. Not like it’s really hard to sell tickets to a Tim Lincecum game anyway, but you just know it has to warm the cockles of Larry Baer’s heart to know that approximately 650 of the 42,694 tickets sold to tonight’s game were purchased for dogs.
And my girlfriend and I were two of them. SGL created a pretty darn good costume for the Pomeranian, using a miniscule Giants t-shirt with “LINCEPOM” and “55” ironed on and a small Giants hat built especially for dogs (which I saw about 100 of today) with black hair from a “Bratz” doll hanging from the inside.
My girlfriend has a mixture of eternal optimism and an extremely competitive streak, traits which help her in many situations. It also helped her believe the faux Lincecum getup she put together three hours before heading to the park was going to help our little dog win the costume contest held before the game. Or at least reach the top eight.
Actually, neither happened. A larger canine sitting next to us also sported a Lincecum outfit, and he was chosen as a finals entry over Lincepom, right in front of an extremely disappointed SGL. Apparently the other dog’s fake hair was more attractive, or his Lincecum shirt was easier to read on TV. Regardless, SGL was a sore loser for about five minutes, convinced Lincepom got jobbed. It was like how I felt after Pablo Sandoval got passed over by Charlie Manuel.
Soon all was forgotten, since everyone with a dog got to walk around the field (so in truth, 650 people paid $28 to get a chance to walk around the warning track of a professional baseball field, which sounds a lot more palatable than a bunch of people paying for their animals to sit in the stands and bark every time anybody claps or raises their voices), and the Lincecum dog that made it to the finals didn’t even make the top three. Ha.
Pretty incredible experience, getting to walk around the field and watch about 200 dogs relieve themselves on the bullpen mounds (Lincecum himself may want to clean the bottom of his spikes extra well before sticking them in his equipment bag, if baseball players even do that themselves), then watch the best pitcher in Giants history turn what looked to be a stressful outing into an absolute dissection of one of the best lineups in baseball — well, in the National League anyway.
Of course, you already knew that. Lincecum just led off SportsCenter as I’m writing this. Here are some things I only could have learned from being at AT&T (Dog) Park tonight:
— Tim Lincecum is ridiculously flexible. Without warming up, he jogged out onto the field about 15 minutes before first pitch and broke into a bunch of crazy stretches I would have figured only gymnasts were capable of.
— We went with my girlfriend’s dad, and he brought binoculars. That’s how I found out that Mike Krukow has a baseball in his hand the entire time he’s announcing. He pretty much tosses the ball from one hand to the other during the action, and between innings tosses the ball up into the ceiling and catches it. Again and again, ball into the ceiling. If you’re Duane Kuiper, doesn’t that have to get annoying after a while?
— There’s a new walking Panda mascot, who was followed down the aisle next to our section by a throng of fans hoping to take their picture with Lou Seal’s friend/competition. Can’t say I’m surprised.
— I forgot to check if you can build a panda at the Build-a-Bear station. Next time.
— Raul Ibanez is far less affected by the “What’s the matter with “____”, he’s a bum” chant than Elijah Dukes. No looks back at the bleachers, no flipping the bird. Kind of disappointing. I love a good tantrum from an oversensitive outfielder (although nobody beats Jay Payton, who when he was with the Rockies once reacted to some pretty tame taunts by facing away from us, bending over and slowly patting his ass…needless to say that didn’t exactly quiet the fans much).
— Can you call the Giants offensive performance the latest shining example of their vaunted “Ground Attack” if both of the runs scored via Juan Uribe sac flies? Sure, if you take into account there were infield singles during both “rallies” (by Fred Lewis in the 5th and Travis Ishikawa in the 7th). You didn’t need to be there to know that, but there’s something really amazing about a team that thrilled a sellout crowd and enjoyed one of their most satisfying wins of the year with only one extra-base hit.
— Oh yeah, that’s because Lincecum didn’t allow any extra-base hits.
— I don’t know if I’d want Renel’s job as the PA announcer for the Giants. They have her talking nonstop for about five hours with all the tidbits about sponsors, between-inning quizzes and everything else they make her rattle off every second there isn’t a pitch being thrown. Maybe that’s why they have a little brat cute kid announce the Giants’ hitters for an inning every game.
— Thanks to Renel, I now know that if there’s problems in your section, you can text “SECURITY” to some 5-digit number and somebody will come over and check out the problem. So now, lazy fans with an axe to grind can finally enjoy the “AT&T Park Experience” to the fullest. Fantastic.
— All joking aside, it was pretty cool that we went to a game surrounded by hundreds of dogs in Giants-related costumes (except for the dogs who were dressed like Hugh Hefner, a construction worker and a really confused canine who was dressed as a San Jose Shark) where I didn’t feel like I was trapped in some awful marketing gimmick (we even got a sweet orange Giants leash when we entered the park, a marketing gimmick I can agree with). It was even cooler to see Lincecum win his 12th game in a completely different way than how he dominated the Pirates in his last start. The coolest thing was that the Giants are about 300 times more fun to watch live this year than anytime in the past four, and every time I watch them in person they look better. Now if they could only play like this on the road…