Tigers 3, Athletics 1

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An elephant dressed as a Jedi!

Stomper, the A's mascot, dressed as a Jedi... probably Yoda, based on the green ears.

On a last minute whim (because the Twins were busy losing to Cleveland and I didn’t feel like watching), I took the BART over to Oakland for an evening of baseball, lightsabers, malfunctioning stadium lights, and my first ever conversation with a Major League Baseball player’s wife.  Tonight the A’s were hosting the Detroit Tigers, who had a magic number of 1.  I already have plans to see the Tigers on Sunday when Justin Verlander takes the mound for a potential 24th win of the season (!), but I decided I would try to be there when they clinch the Central Division as well.  (Since the Twins shat the bed this season, the Tigers are going to be my playoffs team.  Sorry, Red Sox, I’m kind of bored with you.)  My camera is still in Minnesota, so the only pictures I got are of the poor-quality-off-the-phone variety.

As a bonus, it was another fireworks game in Oakland — making the third fireworks game I’ve attended this season.  Previous fireworks shows were Broadway and Elvis themed.  Tonight’s fireworks display was Star Wars themed, with a cameo appearance by Stormtroopers and Stomper the elephant (A’s mascot) dressed as a Jedi.  Plus I apparently missed some sort of giveaway as every little kid had an inflatable lightsaber.  One boy accidentally whacked me with his on the way out.  He was very apologetic and seemed embarrassed.  I told him not to worry, it’s not every day I get attacked by a Jedi.  This seemed to make him feel a little better.

Tigers celebrate clinching the 2011 AL Central Division Championship

The Tigers celebrate on the field after clinching the 2011 American League Central Division Championship

As for the game, sure enough, the Tigers won 3-1 and clinched the Central.  (This also could have been done if the Indians had lost to the Twins, but that would have required the Twins to actually win a game.  I’ve figured out that that doesn’t happen anymore.)  Doug Fister pitched a masterful 8 innings with five strikeouts no walks and only three hits, which included a Josh Willingham homerun in the 2nd for the A’s only run.  Meanwhile on offense, the Tigers scored two runs thanks to two triples, one from Ramon Santiago in the 3rd and one from Wilson Betemit in the 6th.  While those runs would have been enough, Don Kelly threw in a homerun in the 7th for insurance.

Speaking of Ramon Santiago, he took part in one of the most bizarre plays I’ve seen in awhile.  He was on third when former Twin Delmon Young was batting.  Young hit a grounder down the third baseline where Eric Sogard fielded it… just as Santiago ran into him.  Sogard managed to tag Santiago for the out, but the tag seemed more incidental than anything.  The umpire hesitated slightly before calling him out — I think even he was confused by what had happened.

But I’ve buried the lede… the most bizarre thing at this game happened at the top of the 4th.  The Tigers took the field and Fister took the mound to toss a few warm-up pitches when suddenly the lights turned off.  Yeah, you read that right… the Oakland Coliseum stadium lights inexplicably went out.  The scoreboard still worked and some running lights were on, but the field was dark and no one seemed to know why, including the PA announcer.  He came on and made the following announcement after a few minutes:

Ladies and gentleman, the lights are out.  I figured that one out all by myself.  Unfortunately, I have no news for you as to why, but when I get some, I’ll be sure to let you know.  In the meantime, just sit back and try to enjoy yourself while the game is paused.

In the hundreds of baseball games I’ve been too, I’ve never seen that happen before.  So, I did the only reasonable thing… I went and got a sausage and a beer.  While in line, I was making small talk with a woman who casually mentioned that she gets to a lot of games because her husband is on the team.  “Who’s your husband?” I asked.

“Coco Crisp,” she said, like it was no big deal.  I then mentioned that I used to live in Boston and was a big fan of her husband when he played for the Sox.  We chatted for awhile about the difference in the crowds at Oakland games as opposed to Red Sox games and how she really dislikes the Rays because apparently there was an on the field brawl one time and a bunch of the Rays beat up Coco.  She added that Coco doesn’t really share the same grudge because “with trades happening all the time, you never know when a guy is going to be on your team the next day.”  I really wanted to ask her why her husband is named after cereal, but I decided I didn’t want to be awkward and insulting when she was being so friendly.

Only later via a text message from my sister was I reminded of what I really should have told her: That a picture of Coco is hanging in my parents living room because he was up to bat when their 30th anniversary message flashed on the Twins scoreboard.  Oops… I’ll have to mention it the next time I run in to her!

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