Suns-a-roni, my vacation treat

August 12, 2004|by ANDY MASON

My vacation in San Francisco last week was like a trip back to the future.

I went to SBC Park, located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, to watch last Thursday afternoon's Giants-Reds game. Now, upon my return home, I'll have to go to Willie Mays Way the rest of this season to check out the Hagerstown Suns at Municipal Stadium.

But who really gives a hoot about the Single-A Suns anyway, right?

Well, apparently their big-league bosses thought everyone in the sold-out crowd at SBC Park might be interested in taking a sneak peek at a couple of potential Giants.

During the middle innings Thursday in San Francisco, Suns shortstop Tim Hutting and outfielder Mike Wagner had their names and stats highlighted on the outfield scoreboard as two of the organization's recently hot minor leaguers.


Still, the trip from Hagerstown to California is a painfully slow and grinding journey at best, right?

While - thanks to planes, trains and automobiles - it wasn't such a grueling trek for me, it seems as if pitcher Merkin Valdez's trip to the Bay Area was even smoother and faster than mine, like he traveled by time machine in first class.

Valdez went 9-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 26 starts for the Suns last year. Last Thursday, he made his second big-league appearance for the Giants. Valdez entered the game with one out and the bases loaded in the eighth inning and immediately struck out Ken Griffey Jr.

I must say, sitting there in the left-field bleachers I gained a new appreciation for Suns baseball. (At Municipal Stadium, I could have gotten twice as much beer for half the price.)

My biggest sports outing last week also was a trip. I ran the San Francisco Chronicle Marathon.

It came as no huge surprise that the city's 26.2-mile course, like most of its trolley cars, usually went either up or down, or that I ran through a giant cloud of marijuana smoke created by some bystanders shortly before entering the Haight Ashbury district - the hub of 1960s hippie culture - around Mile 19.

"The hills take you higher." Maybe the marathon should reconsider its slogan.

Through it all, I still posted a personal-best time, which should stand. They never asked for a post-race urine sample.

Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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