Game 161 and Back: San Francisco Round-Trip Experience
Game 161 and Back
San Francisco Round-Trip Experience
By: Blake Kuehnle
As I approach the Pomona Park and Ride to experience another Pantone 294 Round-trip to San Francisco, different waves of emotions start to hit me. I’m excited to watch Clayton Kershaw and our Dodgers take on the Giants, I’m nervous about this Game 161 being a MUST-WIN GAME, I’m anxious for this seven hour bus ride I’m about to endure, but mostly I’m just dead tired because it is 3am on a Saturday morning and I decided to not sleep on Friday. #TeamNoSleep
We find find our bus leader, sign in, load up the bus and begin our journey to San Francisco! It’s still pitch black outside so the first three hours of our excursion are dedicated to rest. Lights are out, radio is off and it’s a peaceful and restful ride all the way to our first pit stop in Lost Hills. Once we stop, we wake up and have an hour to get something to eat at the numerous choices Lost Hills has to offer. Every fast food joint on the block is flooded with Pantone 294 members and many employees are annoyed and confused as to why there is such a huge rush on this random Saturday morning, they obviously have never seen Pantone 294 in full effect.
The hour has passed, everyone has taken full advantage of the hour rest stop and now this is where the real party begins! The radio kicks on and it is a wide playlist from Kendrick Lamar to Phil Collins to Vicente Fernandez. Everyone is fully awake and ready for the full day of fun ahead of us. People in the inside aisle are making drinks and getting acquainted as people with window seats gase out and enjoy the scenery of California.
After a couple more hours on the road, we hit our final rest stop before San Francisco for a quick bathroom break and the opportunity to get a group photo. There’s an announcement made letting us all know that it’s an hour straight shot to AT&T Park and the mood on the bus SKYROCKETS. The music gets a little louder, the drinks are flowing a little bit more and “LETS GO DODGERS” chants begin to break out every couple of minutes.
As our bus pulls up to AT&T Park we see nothing but hideous orange and black with some solid splashes of blue mixed in. All four of our busses unload and all 200+ of us begin our march towards the stadium. A sea of Dodger blue has rushed the gates of AT&T Park and taken over the orange and black territory, “LETS GO DODGERS” chants are all people can hear on the north side of the stadium.
We make it through security along with the other members and we meet up with the rest of the group in our sections who have purchased game tickets only and just like that our group tripled in size and the chants are getting louder and louder. The upper portion of the sections in left center field are completely FILLED with die hard Dodgers fans chanting “LETS GO DODGERS” and it looks like the Left Field Pavilion at Chavez Ravine! The residents of AT&T Park don’t take to kindly to our chants and proceeded to try and drain us out with their typical boo’s and “BEAT LA” chants that suddenly get turned into “EAST LA” chants.
The chants and boos continue through the lineup announcements and everyone in attendance is ready for this game to start, everyone in orange is well aware that their Giants are trying to play spoiler and that is fueling their chants even more. Joc Pederson steps in to lead the game off and on the fourth pitch of the game hits a towering fly ball down the right field line that causes everyone wearing Dodger blue to ERUPT and everyone wearing orange and black to get very quiet. And even more so when Yasiel Puig led off the second inning with a rocket flying over the left field wall to give us a 2-0 lead! I have never given so many high fives to people within a 2 minute span.
The Giants were able to score in the bottom halves of the second and third inning to give them a 3-2 lead and AT&T Park had some life in it but that was short lived as the Dodgers start a rally in the 4th with fan favorite Kike Hernandez smacking an RBI-double to right center to tie the game up. “KI-KE KI-KE KI-KE KI-KE KI-KE” is all I can hear, and as I look out at the field I see Kike pointing and acknowledging our presence. That felt pretty good, but what felt even better was watching Clayton Kershaw hit a single to right field to bring in two runs and give our Dodgers the 5-3 lead!
As the top of the fourth inning ended I took this as an opportunity to walk around and get see every vantage point that the stadium has to offer, which I highly recommend to do when visiting a new stadium. I got a nice order of chicken fingers and garlic fries and headed up to the Top Deck to see what the hype about AT&T Park is all about and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. Looking out and seeing McCovey Cove and the San Francisco Bay as a backdrop for a baseball game is just as incredible of a view as the San Gabriel Mountains when at Dodger Stadium. As I am looking out on the diamond there is one splash of blue that is catching my attention, and it is the 800+ Pantone 294 members that have taken over left center! I glance around the stadium and there is blue sprinkled around it, but it is truly overwhelming to see one section that is completely painted in Dodger blue when in a territory where it is orange and black only.
The view was absolutely incredible for a baseball fan, but the game began to take a turn for the worse for a Dodgers fan in the bottom of the fifth. Hunter Pence smacked a double down the left field line to bring in one run, then advances to third on a wild pitch and finally scores on a Joe Panik sac fly to tie the ballgame up and AT&T Park has life in it once again. “BEAT LA! BEAT LA! BEAT LA!” chants are blasted on the loudspeaker and from the Top Deck I can clearly hear the Pantone 294 faithful transforming the chant to “EAST LA! EAST LA! EAST LA!”
I’m walking back to my seats and as I’m about to walk down the aisle, I bump into none other than Jerry Hairston Jr. who just finished soaking in the game with Pantone 294 for a couple innings. I thought it was incredible that an athlete who has seen and heard just about every crowd there is inside of a baseball stadium and he wanted to experience first hand what Pantone 294 is all about.
The sixth and seventh inning pass in true Dodgers fashion as the offense leaves 5 runners on base in those two innings alone. My nerves start to tense up on me as the 8th inning begins but it eases up a little bit with a Chris Taylor leadoff single. But back to back pop outs by Justin Turner and Max Muncy bring my nerves right back. Manny Machado steps into the plate with two outs and quickly goes down no balls and two strikes and it doesn’t look good for the Boys in Blue. The following two pitches however, changed the entire mood of the whole stadium. A wild pitch allowed Taylor to get into scoring position and then Manny blasted a outside fastball 350+ feet to right field bouncing off the Levis Landing sign on the fence!
As we see Machado flip his bat, everyone in Dodger blue is holding their breath, hoping and praying that this ball will get out of the park, but once we see the ball ricochet off the wall, the entire crowd erupts in excitement as our Dodgers take the 6-5 lead! Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda shut it down in the bottom of the eighth and in the top of the ninth the Dodgers offense was able to blow it wide open to a 10-5 lead thanks to Chris Taylor, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger! As the lead grows to 10-5 and Kenley Jansen is coming in from the bullpen to get the final two outs of the game, the nerves have finally gone away and the excitement of watching the Dodgers clinch another postseason birth has taken over.
Following a lineout, and an RBI ground-rule double, Kenley Jansen gets the strikeout and the Dodgers get the 10-6 win and clinched their sixth straight trip to the postseason! High fives and hugs are given and received all around me and in the midst of our celebration in the stands, I look out to the field to see the coolest sight of the whole day, Manager Dave Roberts tipping his cap and paying respect to our section. For the Manager to step out onto the field and acknowledge the fans that root for their team day in and day out was really something special!
The game was over, but the night was far from it! We still had a boat party around the Bay to enjoy! I am not going to lie, it was a good 3 miles from AT&T Park to Pier 43 ½ where our boat party was but we had two and a half hours to get there. I was able to walk out of the heavily occupied area around the stadium and caught an Uber over to the Pier where I had more than enough time to get something to eat before the boat ride!
I make it over to Pier 43 ½ with about 15 minutes to the loading time and see a line about a half mile long full of nothing but Dodgers fans, so I knew I made it to the right spot. As I’m walking down the line I see nothing but familiar faces and new friends that I have made throughout the day and everyone still has their large smiles that was obtained over at AT&T Park just a couple hours ago.
The boat is all loaded up and we have set sail, everyone is enjoying all the incredible views that the Bay has to offer from the skyline of Downtown San Francisco to Alcatraz to going underneath the Oakland Bay and Golden Gate Bridge! The vibes on the boat are very similar to the vibes in the Visitors clubhouse in AT&T Park a few hours prior, everyone is hyped up that the Dodgers have clinched a trip to the postseason and the DJ is keeping the vibes on the boat at a high.
Our two hours on the water are over and it is finally time to head back to Los Angeles. As we load up the bus everyone appears tired from an incredible day, some people want to keep the party going but majority rules and the lights are out and the music is off for this restful ride back home. I take my seat and just like Drake I was out like a light. After a smooth and seamless ride, we pull back into the Pomona Park and Ride parking lot and the Pantone 294 experience was over.
To summarize the whole trip, it was a long day but one I will never forget. I made some new friends and got to experience an incredible Dodgers v Giants game in San Francisco and that wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible crew that is Pantone 294. Being in an away stadium but still being surrounded by your home teams fans is one of the coolest things a sports fan can experience! If you are on the fence about going on a trip with Pantone 294 just know that you would be joining one of, if not the most passionate fan group in all of American sports.
- Blake Kuehnle