So there I was, the rain watering down my watery $9 cup of Bud Light, surrounded by a pack of fiery Dominican Republicans beating drums, blowing horns and spilling their own thin brews all over each other.
There might have only been a couple thousand of them, but they made their presence felt in the form of a chant that echoed off the seats and surely drifted miles into the Bay.
"Doe-Mini-Khan-O!" they barked anytime a DR player slapped a single into left center.
The first game was a duel between Nippon and the Dutch teams. The Nipponese fans were insane.
They came to the park dressed in samurai robes and toted plastic swords. They waved huge Nipponese flags and hammered drums all nine innings. And, man, they were drunk. They seemed to dig Budweiser over Bud Light or Coors.
"NEE-PON! NEE-PON!" they chanted, drunkenly.
I had made the trip four years after vowing with my buddy, T-bags, to attend the World Baseball Classic tournament, no matter the cost.
Turns out that cost came plenty cheap We bought tickets to the championship round for a song. There's not much enthusiasm for the Classic in the United States. That was evident by the not-quite-half-full AT&T Park that housed the championship round.
The U.S. team had been knocked out before to the championship round, but who cares? Competitive ball in March? I'm in.
The one thing that's become apparent about San Francisco is the town is baseball crazy. Giants gear is everywhere. We usually head down for a few games each summer, fighting the Internet to get the best deals on seats. Trust me, they aren't giving away Giants tickets these days.
We are more than happy to buy bleacher seats and then spend the game touring the park, beers in hand. There are some good standing-room spots throughout to catch an inning or two before the ushers sweep you along.
I intended to do this at the Classic but soon realized the ushers had no interest in enforcing seating laws. They leaned sleepily on the rails leading down to field level and gave a weak shrug to anyone who approached. Mind-blown fans filed down onto the premium levels, many for the first and only time, I suspect.
I was in disbelief. In the beer line, I asked some Puerto Rican dudes if it was true. They were engaged in conversation with some drunk, white-boy bro in a Cincinnati Reds hat when I approached them. I only caught a snippet of their exchange, but it included this bit of liveliness:
Drunk, white-boy bro: "I'm rooting for Purto (sic) Rico. They are like the 51st state, anyway."
PR dudes: "NOT (expletive) YET IT'S NOT!"
I took a seat three rows up from home plate. I'd never seen pro baseball from such a privileged vantage point.
Ah, so this is how the other half who sunk our economy live, I thought.
But for those three nights, it was the rest of us, the drunk white boys in Reds hats, the PR dudes, the DOE-Mini-Khan-Os! and the Budweiser-swilling Nipponese who owned the palace by the Bay.
And it was beautiful.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email email@example.com.