We decided to go have dinner at the new Game Seven Grill on the plaza, which has replaced Sliders. I believe soco is going to be along with a full review of the place in due course, but our first impression was that this is a place which has major, major-league issues in the service department. However, one immediate plus was that you can reserve a table online, and we'd recommend doing so. However, still get there early, because we arrived at 5:30pm, and we were unable to get our food (main course, no appetizers or desert), pay and get out in time for first pitch at 6:40pm. Twenty minutes after being seated, no-one had even come to ask if we wanted drinks.
There seemed no shortage of staff, but as Chris put it, they were "moving with no sense of purpose" - aimlessly drifting from one section to another, carrying a fork, or whatever. And this was on a weekday night when the park was barely half full. After the lengthy period of being ignored, Chris spotted a waitress showing a sense of urgency and flagged her down - if she hadn't, we'd probably still be waiting to be noticed. Allie was awesome, did everything she could to speed up the process, and the gulf in energy, enthusiasm and general competence she had over the other staff was startling. [At the next table, the waiter has managed, somehow, to lose a customer's credit card entirely!]
I'll leave soco to discuss the food in detail; it was pretty good, when it eventually arrived. That gives me hope, because decent food and crappy service are easier to fix than the other way around. There were other pluses too, such as better beer on tap, something at which Sliders failed miserably. Stella Artois? Alright. But on this showing, you have to book a table for 5pm to be sure of seeing all the game, which is borderline insane. Somewhere like this is not a destination, a place to graze leisurely: people want to come in, be fed, and leave. Until the service is fixed, it's no real improvement over Sliders at all. There, you didn't want to eat the food; here, you don't have the time.
Into Chase, which unsurprisingly seemed a good deal less full than Monday night. There's always a sharp drop-off after Opening Day. the last time it was on a Monday, in 2010, the crowd on Tuesday was over thirty thousand less, so the twenty thousand or so missing tonight was actually fairly credible. The announced crowd was a little over 28,000: the upper deck was surprisingly full - usually a sign of a little-league group outing or similar. It was clearly boosted a bit by a significant number of Cardinals fans - including more than one, sporting Pujols jerseys with the name on the back crossed out with duct tape, which I thought was a nice touch.
They were the usual mix of friendly visiting fans and somewhat irritatingly loud ones. Mrs. SnakePit got into a conversation with one of the former, now living in Bakersfield, about Superfan Susan, whom we were seated two rows in front of, with Chris pulling up Youtube video and stories about her on the phone for the information of visitors. I was also asked what to do about rattlesnakes, which are apparently an issue in Bakersfield. After some discussion, I confessed to not having seen a live one since moving here, prompting the response, "So what's the SnakePit?" No, ma'am, I apologize for the confusion: my jersey is not advertising a de-reptiling service.
After the Racing Legends had done their thing, they came up the aisle beside our section, and the eagle-eyes of Mrs. SnakePit noticed something had changed - and confirmed by the pic above. I took to the Twitter (phrase courtesy of The Berthiaume) and was duly enlightened:
@azsnakepit lets just say the guy inside isn't the same skin color as grace.— CoAzBaseballGrl (@CoAZBaseballGrl) April 3, 2013
Ah. The more you know... Seems it isn't the same person in the costume every time, which explains why our pic shows Grace without gloves, as he was throughout his career.
In terms of the game, Trevor Cahill looked good, particularly early, and when he was missing, he was missing low. Even the home-run Holliday hit looked like he golfed it out of there [and yes, checking Gameday, that pitch was low, out of the strike zone] I missed the fiasco which was Heath Bell's debut for the team, since I was off getting ice-cream at ColdStone - actually getting the very last Chocolate Devotion in stock, a stroke of luck even Bell was unable to negate. However, I suspect I'm going to feel the way about him, the way I did about Chad Qualls in 2010: the uncomfortable feeling that no lead, however large, is safe with him on the mound.
On offense, it seemed we had a lot of times where we hit the ball right at people. Of course, we also had Jason Kubel staring at strike three with the bases loaded and the tying run in scoring position, to end the sixth inning, which was the point at which I realized it wouldn't be our night [. Alfredo Marte did look pretty over-matched, especially during the two at-bats which ended in strikeouts. His lack of patience seems to be an issue, and it's one which will likely be exploited, though I suspect not much playing time will be seen before the return of Cody Ross leads to him being de-marte-d.
Thank you, I'll be here all week.