Deciding we needed to find out what true Giants fans are like, we rented a kayak and paddled the half-mile or so from Pier 40 to McCovey Cove, a tiny finger of the San Francisco Bay on the backside of the outfield fence.
I've heard stories for a long time about the crazy party that goes on during games in the cove. The goal for kayakers is to snag home run balls that come sailing over the fence; or as they are called here in San Francisco ? "Splash Balls."
We left the headquarters of City Kayak about an hour before the first pitch, making our away along a seawall, past a marina, paddling alongside sea lions and seagulls, and taking a right turn into McCovey Cove.
It feels a bit like you're arriving in Lake Havasu on the 4th of July. It is one giant party. It's a mix of party boats and hundreds of kayaks practically piled on top of one another.
There are police on jet skis and in boats corralling the partiers, many of whom have beers in hand while they paddle their kayaks. Women are in bikinis despite the 50 degree overcast weather. One man is wearing a Goofy costume like you'd see at Disneyland. A few of the kayakers even have dogs with them, hoping that if a ball were to come over the fence, their pooch might jump in and fetch it.
Splash Balls: 55 and Counting
The official "Splash Ball Counter" inside AT&T Park says 55 balls have landed in the cove. The fans here were hoping one more would come over.
They have rigged up all kinds of devices on their boats to try to snag balls. The most common devices were big nets to fish out the balls, if the dogs don't get them first. I was told when a ball does sail over, it is total chaos. People rip off their clothes and jump in, kayaks overturn, and dogs go fetching in the water.
One thing is for sure: hanging out in McCovey Cove is not about watching the game. We couldn't see the game at all, except for a tiny sliver of the scoreboard which gave us enough information about what was happening in the ballpark. Many of the boaters have radios blaring with the play-by-play so they know what's happening inside the park.
One tip to any potential McCovey Cove explorers: don't drink too much liquid before you head out here. There are no bathrooms on kayaks. Some intrepid boaters found that out the hard way.
After hours of waiting, there were no Splash Balls.