Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sacramento River Cats

Sometimes I forget the disparity in resources between Single A and Triple A baseball. Saturday night the reality hit me like a Vida Blue fastball (bonus points if you can remember Vida Blue). Other than visiting the major league parks I had been lingering in Single A, mostly California League, ballparks since leaving Arizona. The difference is staggering. First there is the sheer size of the stadium. A few of the lower leagues have dirt parking lots and are low slung, single tiered facilities that have seen decades of baseball as well as their fair share of deferred maintenance. Walking up to ballpark in Sacramento with the name “Raley Field” blaring out in four-foot tall electrified letters quickly reminds one that you are just one step away from the big leagues.

Raley Field opened in 2000 and is still in outstanding shape. The last 14 years have been kind to this Pacific Coast League venue. The River Cats play in a superb stadium that sports the best manicured outfield, general admission seating, grass berm I have seen to date. It has trees for shade and is larger than most. The Sacramento skyline looms over the right field wall and the Sacramento River flows gently by. One very cool and unique aspect of Raley Field are the support pillars on the main concourse. They are embedded with tiles hand painted with baseball and River Cats themes by local school children who made them circa 2000. It adds color and a community connection to what would otherwise be just another busy concrete concourse.

Bun-the bun was really cold when I first grasped the dog. But the frank was super hot so by the time I got around to eating it it had evened out.
Taste-the Weinerschnitzel frank was fatty, salty and large. In other words it was pretty darn good.
Toppings-Triple A team with Single A toppings. No kraut or jalapenos.
Price-For the size of the venue and level of play I suppose I should not be surprised at the $5 price tag. It was a large frank, but still a bit pricey.
Portability-cardboard boat doesn’t really cut it.
It Factor-there is the really large “Dinger Dog” (named after the mascot). It seemed popular with the fans but not sure it would lure them to the ticket window.

Location-just across the river from downtown. In an up and coming area that has lots of new construction.
Access-big bonus for having free bicycle valet. From the number of bikes it is obvious many bike to the park. Love that. Parking is pricey at $10, unless you park in the employee lot...that is free. Hey, they didn’t ask, I didn’t tell. From the number of new condos being built nearby, it look like many people will be able to walk to the park soon.
GA Ticket Price-$10 is the cheapest and that is on the grass berm in the outfield. A bit overpriced, even for AAA.
Fans-there was a long line waiting to get in when I arrived. It was Saturday and it was fireworks night. Still, the River Cats have great fanbase support that were into the game.
Ambiance-nice ballpark with a baseball feel to it. I never felt I was at the circus like I do as some stadiums. Sacramento has a winner with this venue, but there are still some Single A parks that beat it in combined score.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability3GA Ticket Price3
It Factor3Fans4

Then there was that mesmerizing Miller Lite billboard I could not quit looking at. The flow out of the bottle was some sort of material similar to the sequined dress of a Las Vegas show girl. It helped after the sun went down.

The game was a yawner until the late innings, where the River Cats rallied to beat the Salt Lake City Bees 4-3 in 11 innings.

1 comment:

  1. I liked Raley Field, especially since they're an A's affiliate. At any give point you can catch someone on a rehab assignment.

    That's a bummer they didn't have jalapenos. I went to Sun Life Stadium before they shut it down and they charged me $0.25 per small plastic container of jalapenos. Much to their surprise, I handed them a $5.00 and said ok, I'll take 20.