July 31 - August 2, 2009
BDBL Weekend 2009:
Oakland and San Francisco
The nine coolest guys
in the BDBL.
By Mike Glander
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
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
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.
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
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
to the words "Big Daddy")
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
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,
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
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
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,
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
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.