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Big Daddy Baseball League

O F F I C I A L   S I T E   O F   T H E   B I G   D A D D Y   B A S E B A L L   L E A G U E
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July 31 - August 2, 2009

BDBL Weekend 2009: Oakland and San Francisco

The nine coolest guys in the BDBL.

By Mike Glander
BDBL Staff

OAKLAND/SAN FRANCISCO -- Nine members of the BDBL braved the oppressive winter chill of the Bay Area and enjoyed two tremendous games (and one tremendous ballpark) during the tenth annual BDBL festivities, held July 31st - August 2nd, 2009.

The weekend began when I met Tony Chamra on the streets of San Francisco by pure coincidence as I trekked my way toward my hotel from the airport.  After enduring endless complaints about my hotel accommodations during the past two BDBL Weekends, I allowed Jim Doyle to book this year's hotel room.  As a result, Doyle enjoyed the decadent opulence of his own separate room in a hotel suite throughout the weekend, while I slept on a springy roll-away mattress.

Chamra and I then spent the next few hours at an Irish pub around the corner while waiting for the others to arrive.  Doyle, Greg Newgard, Jeff Paulson, Matt Clemm and BDBL Weekend rookie Nic Weiss each eventually joined our group at some point.  We then set out for the evening in search of a place to have dinner.

We eventually settled on another Irish place located in an alley.  (Really!)  After dinner, we headed out to a bar, where we played some pool and continued talking trade (a common theme throughout the weekend.)  I remember excelling at pool, and only losing due to my choice of partner (Doyle) and a cheesy sinking of the cue ball on an eight-ball shot when the table was littered with balls from the other team.  And while we played, Doyle ordered nachos for the second time that night.  (He's a big fan of nachos.)

During dinner, the league discussed the first trade of BDBL Weekend, in which the Nashville Funkadelic traded Manny Ramirez and Kerry Wood to Chicago in exchange for someone named Shelby.  I remarked that my nephew's girlfriend's name is Shelby.  Throughout the dinner, I noticed Weiss scribbling notes on a ubiquitous sheet of folded-up paper.

After dinner, we moved onto the comedy club, where we enjoyed the comedic stylings of John Hefron.  Hefron was so funny, even Doyle laughed.  Meanwhile, Weiss continued scribbling notes on his pad of paper.  After the show, we retired back to our hotel rooms, as it was around 2:00am for us right-coasters.

On Saturday morning, Doyle, Newgard, Chamra, Weiss and I walked a few blocks down the road to Mel's Diner, where we had an excellent breakfast.  We enjoyed it so much, we returned the following day.  Later, we met with Paulson and Clemm at Ghirardelli Square.  We took a walk down the pier, saw some sea lions, bought some souvenirs and ate some "bread bowls" and In-and-Out burgers.  Doyle and a few others took a boat tour under the Golden Gate bridge and around Alcatraz, while the others simply enjoyed a walk down the pier.

A bunch of seals...or otters...or something.

A very touching moment:
Nic touching the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

From there, we headed out to the Oakland Coliseum (or whatever they're calling it these days.)  On the way, Greg and I made an impromptu trade while sitting on the BART.  It was Rickey Henderson Day in Oakland, and 35,000+ fans showed up to the ballpark in uncharacteristic fashion.  As a result, our plans to tailgate for a few hours were blown once we saw the lines forming outside the gates for free Henderson jerseys.  So, while some of us waited in line for nearly two hours, the rest of us hung out in the parking lot and relaxed.

While Chamra and I took in the scenery of the Oakland parking lot (including one sighting of a fan wearing an Adam Melhuse jersey), we were soon met by Bob Sylvester.  Eventually, we made our way into the ballpark, where we met with the others.

Rickey makes his grand entrance.

The view from our seats in Oakland.

The Rickey ceremonies began with several greats (and not-so-greats) from Oakland A's past making an appearance on the field.  Rickey then strode in from the center field gate down a red carpet.  A few speeches were then given -- in one of which Rickey was referred to as the "greatest left fielder in MLB history."  (Sorry, Ted!  Barry who??)

Rickey then stepped to the mike and delivered a typical Rickey-like speech, in which he proclaimed that "Rickey is very, very, very humble."  Rickey's jersey number was then officially retired, and the debris was cleared from the field.

Just prior to the first pitch, John Duel made his grand entrance to BDBL Weekend, coming straight from the airport to greet his BDBL brethren.  All the while, Weiss continued scribbling on his pad of paper.

After a scoreless first, the visiting Blue Jays scored three runs off of A's starter Trevor Cahill (a Villanova product) in the second inning, on a solo homer by Lyle Overbay and a pair of singles by Raul Chavez and Aaron Hill.

But the hometown A's answered those runs with four of their own in the bottom half of the inning.  Another Villanova star, Hill, then homered in the top of the fourth -- a three-run shot -- to give the Jays the lead once again.

The hometown boys trailed by a score of 6-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth.  With one out, Blazers phenom Jack Cust somehow reached base on an infield single.  Someone named Everidge then doubled, putting the tying run of the game in scoring position.  Nomar Garciaparra was then called upon to pinch hit, and after several tugs of his batting gloves and several more toe-taps, he grounded to the right of the pitcher's mound.  For a moment, we thought we may have seen a repeat of BDBL Weekend, 2003, when Jack Cust was gunned down while tripping over his feet toward the plate.  Instead, he somehow managed to stumble home on the throw to first.

That made it a one-run game.  Unfortunately, the drama ended there.  With two outs and the tying run standing just 90 feet away, pinch hitter Ryan Sweeney struck out looking.

After the game, we all (well, okay, everyone except Doyle, who announced that it was his bed time, and scampered off to his private bedroom without saying good-bye to anyone) gathered in the parking lot to play an intense game of "BDBL Jeopardy" organized by Paulson and Clemm.

Amazingly, Weiss jumped out to an early lead by answering questions he had no business knowing, from as far back in BDBL history as 1999 (a year in which Weiss was all but 11 years old!)  But Greg Newgard kept pace by expertly throwing his hand up in the air quicker than any other contestant.  Lurking behind the fray, however, was yours truly, who chose the more calculated route of only answering the questions no other person could ever know.

At halftime (or whatever they call "single Jeopardy"), Newgard was the leader, with Weiss a close second, and both John Duel and Tony Chamra tied with zero points.  During the intense "Double-Jeopardy" section, however, I made up a sizeable chunk of ground.  And, despite the socialist-like handicap of not being allowed to answer any questions in the "Glander" category throughout the game, I found myself in second place heading into "Final Jeopardy."

The fate of the game rested on the final question, which was: "Which team has finished in last place most often during the league's first ten seasons?"  I correctly answered the Atlanta Fire Ants, and wagered all but $100 of my money.  Newgard incorrectly answered the Great Lakes Sphinx, and lost the first-ever BDBL Jeopardy championship.  It is likely the only championship I will ever win in the BDBL, so I will cherish it forever.

Me, Jim and Big Daddy.

Greg (pointing to the words "Big Daddy")
and Tony

After taking a break to visit the porta-potties, I discovered that Paulson and Clemm had abandoned us in the worst section of Oakland in the middle of the night.  So Newgard, Chamra and I bravely hoofed our way through the BART stations and back streets of Oakland to our hotel room in San Fran.

The following morning, after yet another breakfast at Mel's, we headed out to Pac Bell Park (or whatever they're calling it these days) to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  We then met up with Paulson, Clemm, Sylvester and Weiss outside of the stadium.  And while Doyle spent another $200 on T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats in order to disguise himself as a Giants fan, the rest of us took a walk around the ballpark.

Of course, Paulson also took full advantage of this opportunity to pose in front of every statue (except for the one of the seal with a ball on its nose.)

Pac Bell (or whatever it is called) is far and away the most beautiful park in baseball.  With the view of the Bay beyond the right field fence, and wide expanses featuring a wide variety of food, it is easily the best place to view a ballgame in baseball history.

Once inside, we took a walk around the entire park, visiting the giant mitt and Coke bottle in left-center, and the right field bleacher seats (which bear an uncanny resemblance to Salem's Sam Adams Stadium.)

We settled into our seats, and the sun immediately burst through what had been a dark layer of clouds, permanently tanning my face thanks to the reflection off of the Pablo Sandoval T-shirt I had been given while walking through the gate.  (Well, that, and the fact that I had foolishly left my hat and sunglasses back in the room.)

The home team scored first on a triple by Aaron Rowand to the deepest part of the ballpark.  Weiss, meanwhile, continued scribbling on his folded-up piece of green paper.

The giant mitt.

I was told that garlic fries were a "must-have" treat in San Francisco, so I grabbed an order.  The first few bites were delicious, but after that...well...I ended up tossing half the box in the trash.  I then found a pulled pork sandwich and some Dos Equis beer, and all was right with the world.

At some point during the early part of the game, Weiss convinced Doyle to take on Jimmy Rollins' $7 million salary in 2010.  This then set off a chain reaction of trades between Weiss and a number of BDBL owners.  Through the next several innings, Weiss spent several minutes talking to various owners either on the phone or in person.  And by the end of the game, he had consummated another four trades.  No one had ever witnessed such a flurry of activity since Weiss' predecessor, Sharky Kaminski, owned the franchise.  In one weekend, Weiss proved himself to be a worthy successor of the Kaminski legacy.

In the fifth inning, Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate for the first time as an official member of the Manchester Irish Rebels.  He homered into the left field seats to tie the game, prompting Doyle to stand up, raise his hands high in the air, and proclaim in a loud voice, "Say hello to my little friend!"  And this prompted several of the Giants fans surrounding us to boo, and wonder why a person wearing full black-and-orange Giants gear from head to toe was rooting for the opposition.

The Phillies eventually grew their lead to 3-1, but the Giants tied the score in the bottom of the inning on a double by newest Giant Freddie Sanchez.  San Fran scored four more times that inning -- all off of Marlboro pitcher Cole Hamels -- to put the game out of reach.  The Giants eventually won by a score of 7-3.

After the game, Paulson, Clemm, Sylvester and Weiss all said their good-byes.  That left myself, Newgard, Doyle, Chamra and Duel to hoof it back to our hotel room and back to Kate O'Brien's pub around the corner.  There, we hoisted a few beers while discussing a few more trades and debating a bit of politics.  Chamra then took off to catch a red-eye flight to the east coast, leaving four of us to decide where to go for dinner.  We eventually decided on Chinese food.

We hopped in a cab and asked the driver to take us to the best Chinese food in town.  He dropped us off at this little hole-in-the-wall place called "Nan-King," which featured a line of people wrapped around the building.  Despite the imposing size of the line, we waited for only 15 minutes or so before we were led to our table.  The "decor" of the place was similar to what you'd find at a backyard barbeque: lots of fold-out metal card tables with no tablecloths, surrounding by fold-out metal chairs.  Needless to say, we were all a little apprehensive.

The waiter came by, and I ordered a couple orders of beef, one chicken and an order of pork fried rice.  I then asked John if we should add anything else to the order.  At this point, the waiter stopped us mid-sentence and asked if this was our first time at Nan-King.  When we said yes, he tore up the order and asked us how hungry we were.  When we replied, "pretty hungry," he proceeded to scribble furiously on his sheet of paper.  "Don't you worry," he said, "I chef.  I take good care of you."

A few minutes later, our first dish arrived.  It looked a bit like a salad.  I'm not sure exactly what it was, but it tasted good.  The next dish arrived soon thereafter, and it looked and tasted like chicken.  Really good chicken.  But it wasn't chicken.  Some kind of fish, we think.

Another dish was then placed on the table -- something that looked like beef, with a crunchy kind of rice.  VERY good.  Better than the last dish (which was outstanding.)

The next dish arrived, and it was some kind of dumpling.  Two kinds, actually.  Both very, very, very good.  Better than the beef dish.  Each dish was better than the one before it.  By this point, we were wondering if this was the end of the meal.  We had no idea what was coming next -- or how many more dishes were on the way.  But we didn't really care.  It was so good, it didn't matter.

The next dish arrived, and it appeared to be sesame chicken.  But it wasn't.  It was shrimp.  And it was delicious.  It came with sweet potatoes and cucumbers.  I hate sweet potatoes and cucumbers, but I LOVED this dish.  It, too, was better than all the others before it.

A few minutes passed, and we assumed the culinary adventure had ended.  But then another dish arrived: braised pork.  Let me tell you...if I finally get around to killing Peburn, and I find myself on death row, THIS is the last meal I will ever want to eat.  This dish was so good that Newgard and I actually foght a duel with our forks to decide who got the last bite.  (I won.)

We talked about that meal for the rest of the night.  As we were leaving the restaurant, each one of us shook hands with the chef who recommended the meal to us.  I actually thought Newgard was going to hug him.  He was on the verge of tears, knowing that he may never see him again.

It was a meal -- and a weekend -- I will never forget.