I just returned home yesterday evening from a trip to San Francisco to see my alma mater, Arizona State, play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Navy. It was a nice trip to a beautiful city and a great game for Sun Devil fans. ASU won handily, 62-28.
Both teams have similar slogans: “Fear the Fork” and “Fear the Goat”. The goat didn’t intimidate me. But what would normally be a pregame show by one of the college bands, was an impressive display of military precision and pageantry by Navy. Seven or eight companies of midshipmen (about 500 total) performed a march-on to a drum cadence, along with their band. When they moved into the stands, they filled an entire section. They also brought their own firepower – a small cannon. All in all, a bit intimidating.
Arizona State also had their inspiring pregame moment when Will Sutton was named the PAC-12 Pat Tillman Player of the Year. (Tillman played football while attending ASU. He was part of the team that went to the Rose Bowl in 1997. Tillman was playing for the Arizona Cardinals when the US was attacked on 9-11-2001, but left the NFL to join the Army. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.) Tillman’s father presented the award to Sutton.
In the second half, Navy was able to take their possessions into the end zone more often, including a kick-off return. But it was the proverbial too-little-too-late. (Can anyone tell me why midshipmen toss large cardboard boxes around in the stands when their team scores?)
ASU Coach Graham gave the game ball to Marion Grice, whose brother had been murdered eight days earlier.
The SF Giants home field, AT&T Park, is not the best venue for football. I heard that the Kraft Bowl will move to the new SF Forty-Niners stadium when it is complete. But the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mayor Ed Lee was lobbying Kraft Bowl sponsors to keep the game in SF. One point was that the 34,000+ in attendance would only half-fill the new stadium in Santa Clara. But his main emphasis, according to the report, was that fans love the mini-vacation they get being in San Francisco.
While I did not like this venue, I agree about the city being an extra incentive for prospective bowl goers. San Francisco is a stunning city. There is an efficient subway system to get from the ball park back into the heart of the city. The cable cars are always fun; we rode the Powell-Hyde line to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. After checking out the menus posted outside several seafood restaurants, we chose Capurro’s. I enjoyed large sweet shrimp with a double-barrel ale batter. My spouse and daughter both chose the sea bass special, and my son-in-law had the blackened snapper. Capurro’s was quiet, with more room between tables and booths than many San Francisco eating establishments.
On Sunday we began a day of sightseeing with a quick breakfast at Café Cento in the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill: Illy coffee drinks with scones and croissants. We hopped on an old-fashioned street car on Market Street, intending to travel along the Embarcadero up to the Wharf. But near the Ferry Building we decided to get off the street car and look around. The Ferry Building has been turned into upscale shops, food stalls and small restaurants. Samples of cheeses and chocolates abounded. Ferries still dock behind the building. The view of the Bay and the Bay Bridge was postcard perfect in the sunshine.
Around to the Wharf eventually, we battled the weekend crowd to get to the USS Pampanito, a WWII attack submarine that is now a museum. We had lunch at Carmel Pizza, a truck/tent combo on Jefferson Street. We did not have time to wait for one of their wood-fired oven pizzas, so we settled for a made-to-order sandwich garnished with a variety of heirloom baby tomatoes and arugula.
We waited an hour and a half to board a cable car at the turnaround on Hyde Street. Three blocks from our destination, the cable car operator told us we could not continue because the system was not working properly. Three blocks is not much, but these blocks were all uphill, and some of the steepest in the city!
All too soon we were on I-80 heading back to Nevada. A t-shirt seen at the game summed it up: “I left my pitchfork in San Francisco”.