Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Game 14: Every Park Deserves a Second Chance

Athletics 8, Indians 5

After finalizing the trip back in the spring, I can remember the four of us having many conversations about our expectations for the journey. One in particular that comes to mind now is our discussion of the ballparks we were most and least looking forward to visiting. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (now known simply as was consistently on the latter of those lists. The reasoning was pretty logical: an old stadium that doubles as the Oakland Raiders football field, bland appearance both inside and out, apathetic California fan base. Basically we were visiting it because it was one of the 30, but otherwise none of us would ever make the trek to the East Bay for a game. We should have known better.

The Coliseum
Upon arriving in Oakland, we were bound and determined to give the stadium a fair shake despite our perceived flaws. Surprisingly this was easy to do. Qualities that we previously viewed as negative became remarkably charming. The odd shape of the stadium provided us with very interesting perspectives from our second deck seats, the drab concourses and stands focused the fan's attention on the baseball action, much like the highly-ranked Wrigley Field, and the small but passionate group of fans were a pleasant surprise. I left the stadium that day with the sense that like a good book, the Coliseum should not be judged by its cover.

There is also considerably more than meets the eye with the 2012 version of the Oakland Athletics. Inexplicably to most, the A's are deep in contention for one of the two American League Wild Card spots. With a combination of aging veterans (Bartolo Colon, Coco Crisp, Brandon Inge) and exciting youngsters (Jemile Weeks, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick), this squad sits solidly ahead of teams with more perceived talent like the Anaheim Angels and the Detroit Tigers. While the on-field strategy has changed somewhat, it's easy to see similarities to the bargain-hunting Moneyball system that was made famous in the early 2000s. Situated at his weight bench deep inside the Coliseum, Billy Beane must be pleased with this team.
Late night Moneyball

Speaking of Moneyball, Saturday night's game featured a promotion commemorating Scott Hatteberg's game-winning homerun to cap off Oakland's incredible 20 game winning streak in 2002 that was a prominent moment in the book. As a part of the celebration, the Athletics screened the movie adaptation post-game in the stadium. Since three of us had not yet seen it, we decided to sacrifice some sleep and stick around for the full A's experience. It was almost surreal to be sitting on the center field grass watching film of memorable games played within that very stadium. Definitely an evening I won't soon forget.

Games watched: 14
Games to go: 16
Thuuz score: 18
Stadium: B+, As I mentioned above, it totally exceeded our expectations. Simple construction focused attention on the game rather than flashy gimmicks. Scoreboard was small, but provided good information and took nothing away from the action.
Fan Atmosphere: B+, Tarps that cover the upper deck seats detract from the overall stadium capacity and bring down attendance figures. The fans that did attend were vocal from the first inning and seemed to have a longstanding devotion to the team as we saw many more old jerseys than other parks.
Concessions: A-, Very good sandwiches and Mexican cuisine. Beer selection was excellent, which has been a theme at all western parks.
Quote of the Day: "I'll bet you 500 dollars he doesn't hit a homerun" An unfortunate quote from yours truly in response to Damon's desire for the Indians' light-hitting utility infielder Brent Lillibridge to make the game interesting with a 9th inning pinch hit homerun. Lillibridge put the next pitch over the 388 sign in left center field to bring Cleveland within three runs of the A's. Luckily for me we did not shake on it.
Tim Kurkjian Award: A foul ball hit behind home plate was caught cleanly by a roaming drink vendor just as he emerged from the concourse. Never have I heard a louder applause for a play made in the stands.
Total Miles Traveled: 6,784 miles
Miles to Next Game: 401 miles (Rays @ Angels, August 19, 12:35 pm)

Click "Read more" for photos from the day


The group pre-game

Remembering old A's regulars

Roast Beef Sandwich

Jemile Weeks

Honoring retired stars or covering potential seating?

Picking a good seat

Toes on the field

The real Scott Hatteberg addressing the crowd


No comments:

Post a Comment