Category Archives: California

Oakland Athletics 4, San Francisco Giants 0

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Ah, baseball, you’re back and I’ve missed you.

The annual Bay Bridge pre-season series is happening now and last night, after getting some cheap tickets on StubHub and “stealing” a friend from one of my curling buddies, I went down the street to AT&T Park to catch my first baseball game of the year.  Now that interleague is an everyday occurrence, the Bay Bridge series lacks some of its original novelty, as these teams will face each other again in the regular season.  But it’s still fun to hear the bleachers break out into competing chants of “Let’s Go Giants!” and “Let’s Go Oakland!”

One tradition with these games, at least the ones in San Francisco, is the free grab bag giveaway.  They take all the giveaways that they have leftover from previous seasons and you get one random thing.  It could be a Barry Bonds commemorative pin, a Brian Wilson gnome, or a Giants sombrero.  This year I got a Jeffrey Leonard bobblehead doll.  Only, I’ve never heard of Jeffrey Leonard.  It turns out, he was the MVP of the 1987 NLCS, despite the fact that the Giants lost that series to the Cardinals (which I obviously knew because the Cardinals went on to lose the World Series to the Twins that year).  He’s the last guy to win a post-season MVP award, despite being on the losing team.  So at least I’ve learned a fun bit of trivia.

During the game, we sat in the arcade section, which was a first for me.  Those are the handful of rows high above right field, just in front of the drop off into McCovey Cove.  It’s prime homerun ball territory, and Josh Reddick got us close.  In the sixth inning, he launched a shot that seemed all but destined to splash down behind us, but instead, it hit a flag pole and bounced back towards us, making a resounding thunk on the tin roof just in front of us before bouncing back onto the field.  That put the A’s up 4-0 and they never looked back.

In about the 8th inning, the seagulls, also aware that baseball is back with it’s post-game fine dining options for our avian friends, started hovering and swarming the field.  The game ended, and as if they had been counting the outs, they took over the stadium and we went home.

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World Series Game 1: Giants 8, Tigers 3

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World Series Game 1: Giants 8, Tigers 3

The World Series started yesterday down the street from me and my favorite pitcher (Justin Verlander) was pitching.  I knew tickets were going for insane prices, but I also knew that there was a dip in prices shortly before the game started.  And so, I bought a ticket for a 5:07 pmstart at 4:35 pm, printed out the ticket and ran to the stadium — literally.  Actually, I didn’t run straight there.  I stopped off at home and grabbed my camera first… and then continued running, Forrest Gump style.  I made it into the stadium just as the Star Spangled Banner was being played and made it to my (upper upper deck) seat just in time for the first pitch.

Now, I primarily decided to go to this game to see Verlander.  I even had my Tigers shirt on.  Unfortunately, dominant JV did not show up.  He gave up a solo homerun to the third batter, Pablo Sandoval… which would be the first of three homeruns for the Kung Fu Panda, putting him in a class with Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols.  Verlander settled down after that initial run and it looked like he might be his usual self, but then Angel Pagan’s double in the third with two outs happened and everything unraveled for the Tigers.

Now, to call Pagan’s hit a double was generous.  It looked initially like a routine grounder to third that might go foul.  But Miguel Cabrera was playing deep and just before it looked like he was going to field the ball, the ball bounced of the base, took a crazy hop, and wound up past Cabrera in left field.  By the time Delmon Young recovered it, Pagan was on second.  Marco Scutaro followed with a single that scored Angel and then the Tigers pitching coach went out for the most ineffective mound meeting ever.  The next batter? Pablo Sandoval, who hit his second homerun of the game.  It was really hard to keep rooting for the Tigers at this point, because the Giants fans were so excited.  (But I should note that at no point were the San Francisco fans even remotely as excited as the Oakland fans in the ALDS a few weeks ago.)

Once Verlander was pulled after the 4th, I zipped up my jacket and covered up my Detroit allegiances.  When the Panda hit his third homerun of the game, I was cheering right alongside the rest of the Giants fans.  After all, I was seeing history.

Game 2 is happening right now.  I thought briefly (not really) about going again, but StubHub tickets were more than double what they were yesterday, with no pre-game dip.  And so, I’m listening to Game 2 on the radio in the office instead of being at the stadium.  But I was there last night, so I can check “Attend World Series game” off the bucket list.

Pictures after the jump…

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ALDS Game 3: A’s 2, Tigers 0

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My first playoff game was last night… game 3 of the ALDS in Oakland, A’s vs Tigers.  Thanks to Bud Selig and his infinite “wisdom” (and by wisdom, I mean general idiocy), having the “home field” advantage meant that the A’s started the series with two games on the road, which they lost.  They came back to Oakland last night to take on Detroit on their terms.  Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve seen the Tigers in Oakland and actively rooted against them.  Sorry, Justin Verlander.  I still like you and all, but I want to be able to keep going to as many baseball games as possible.

The A’s came through for me and I’m going to another game tonight… which means I’ll wait to write about the series.  Just like I’ll wait to write about those four baseball games I went to and never blogged.  But in the meantime, here are pictures from last night.  I’m off to the Coliseum where baseball will be played at least one more day!

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Oakland A’s 12, Texas Rangers 5

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Holy exciting baseball!

So, lest you think I’ve been avoiding baseball all September because the Twins have been bottom dwellers, there are four September games I went to and never blogged, including my first game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.  I’ll probably bullet point summarize them tomorrow — when there’s no baseball being played anywhere.

But ignore September — it’s October baseball, baby!

At the beginning of the year, no one expected the A’s to do much of anything.  Moneyball was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but the actual Oakland A’s were predicted somewhere near the bottom of the AL West.  At the end of June, they were 13 games back of league leader Texas.  At one point, they were nine games under .500.  The pre-season predictions seemed to be holding true.

And then came the second half of the season.

Somehow, the A’s came to life in a way that no one had predicted.  (I like to think it’s because they picked up my former second-favorite Tiger, Brandon Inge.)  They crawled back into the race and passed the Anaheim Angels and suddenly found themselves in contention for one of two Wild Card spots.  After Sunday (coming soon: my summary of Sunday’s game), the A’s opened a series with the Texas Rangers, only one game back for the division lead and three games up in the Wild Card race.  One win this week and they clinch a playoff spot.  A sweep and they win the division title.

Obviously, you know because I’m writing this (and because you pay any attention to baseball at all), they swept.  And I took the afternoon off to join the sellout crowd at the O.co Coliseum (still a dumb name).  To save you from having to read my summary of the game (Sitting next to a drunk ADHD guy! Having drunk ADHD guy leave and be replaced with a more sane guy! Coming back from a 5-1 deficit! Coco Crisp’s double! Josh Hamilton’s error! Ryan Cook’s strikeouts! Derek Norris’s homerun! Bernie leans! Balfour raging! High fiving lots of random strangers!), here’s the video I took from section 114 of the final out of the game.  Apologies for the shaky cam effect — the adrenaline rush of the moment made it impossible to keep a steady hand, especially when I zoomed in.  [YouTube’s video stabilization feature is amazing!] At some point, I might post highlights of all the pictures too.

Of course, baseball is still just a game.  And even this joyous celebration was dampened this evening.  On Monday when the A’s clinched a playoff spot, Pat Neshek — a fellow Minnesotan, former Twin, and current A’s pitcher — had to quickly fly out of town to join his wife who had gone into labor.  A few hours after the A’s won the division, Gehrig John Neshek, all of 23 hours old, died suddenly.  Neshek was always one of those baseball players who seemed more a fan than a celebrity — he used to keep a blog about all the baseball cards he collected.  Hearing about his loss is just shocking and heartbreaking and makes celebrating a division title seem kind of silly.

Dodgers 4, Giants 0 (July 29)

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Oops… went to a game that I forgot to blog.  I barely remember the game itself at this point, except that the Giants got beat by their division rival and were never really in it.  What I do remember (and what prompted me to write this), were our seats.  Back in May I won a pair of Giants tickets at a curling bonspiel to sit in the Virgin America Club Level.  (This is more or less equivalent to the Legends Club at Target Field… and because the two stadiums were designed by the same architect, when I say more or less equivalent, I mean they pretty much felt like the same place.)

Having never been to the club level before, this was the first time I was able to walk around and see all the Giants memorabilia they have up there.  There’s the standard stuff: signed baseballs and bats, the World Series trophy, newspaper articles, game worn jerseys, homages to perfect games, and so on.  But I also noticed that the Giants seem to have a Peanuts fetish — not the legume, the comic strip.  First of all, there were large statues of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Lucy Van Pelt.  But also, hidden in the collection of game used bats is a bat “used” by Joe Shlabotnik.  Who is Joe Shlabotnik, you ask?  Why, none other than Charlie Brown’s favorite (fictional) player!

Growing up, I always assumed that the Peanuts characters were Twins fans, since Charles Schulz is from Minnesota and the strip is sort of autobiographical.  Then again, there were no Twins when Schulz was growing up, and he eventually moved to the Bay Area (Santa Rosa), so the Giants thing makes a lot more sense.  Also, Harvey sent me some proof:

Below the jump are my pictures from the club level…

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A’s 3, Red Sox 2

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A’s 3, Red Sox 2

Having missed the Red Sox entirely in 2011 — a first since either 2000 or 1998, I’m not sure — today I celebrated the 4th of July by heading across the Bay to watch Boston take on the A’s.  And the thing I realized?  I’m so over the Red Sox.  2004 was amazing, 2007 was still pretty fun, but now?  The only guy left on the team I still like is the only one left from 2004: Big Papi.  As such, I wore my A’s jersey and my David Ortiz hat (with the big 34) and wound up happy: Ortiz hit his 400th career homerun and scored the Red Sox other win after his 1000th career walk, but ultimately the A’s won the game 3-2.  Brandon Moss was a triple away from the cycle and Coco Crisp picked up the slack with a triple in the 7th that turned into the winning run.

No better way to celebrate the USA than by spending the afternoon watching the National Pastime… and then coming home to catch the Twins-Verlander… uh, I mean Twins-Tigers… game on TV.  And now I’m off to watch some fireworks with the roommate.

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Battle of the Bay: Giants 9, Athletics 8 (Saturday); Athletics 4, Giants 2 (Sunday)

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This weekend I discovered the time and place for interleague — when two teams actually have a rivalry built up based on both geography and a previous grudge (in this case, the 1989 World Series).  I went to two of the Oakland-San Francisco games held this weekend in Oakland at the O.co Coliseum.  The stadium was split pretty evenly with people sporting green and gold and people sporting orange.  No matter what happened, somebody cheered and somebody groaned.  Unlike the Red Sox-Yankees glory days, while still a serious rivalry, the Bay Bridge allegiances cross friendships.  Thus, the atmosphere was closer to that of a friendly family feud than a blood sport — not unlike when my grandmother’s house gets split for Vikings-Packers games and then we all eat turkey together afterwards.  (I’ve been told that the Giants-Dodgers game happening down the street from me tonight is what the Giants fans save their true hatred for.  The A’s fans don’t seem to really hate anyone, except for Red Sox and Yankee fans who takeover their stadium.)

Saturday it appeared that the Giants were going to massacre their hosts, up 9-4 going into the bottom of the 9th.  Most of the A’s fans left early and the Coliseum became AT&T Park East.  But the A’s battled back and brought it within a run.  With two outs, they loaded the bases… and Jemile Weeks popped out to shallow right in what turned out to be the longest nine inning game in Oakland history (4 hours, 15 minutes).  The multitude of Giants fans around me actually hugged the one A’s fan left in the bleachers and told him “Better luck next time!”

On Sunday I went with a bunch of curlers and we tailgated in the parking lot before the game.  It reminded me of our family roadtrips to County Stadium in Milwaukee, except that this time I drank a beer with my freshly grilled bratwurst.  Inside the stadium, the game was much tighter than the previous day’s game — and I sat next to quite possibly the world’s biggest A’s fan.  (Jeff Francoeur bought her pizza earlier this year.)  Thus, I decided that unlike my neutral cheering on Saturday, I’d be an A’s fan this time.

Once again, the game came down to the bottom of the 9th.  The A’s were down 2-1.  Cespedes and Inge singled their way on base, but Seth Smith and Brandon Moss struck out.  This left it up to Derek “not the son of Chuck despite similar heroics” Norris, who at this point had all of one major league hit — a single in Saturday’s game.

His second hit was much more memorable: a no-doubter three run homer to left field to give the A’s their first win of the weekend.  It was a good day to be wearing my A’s jersey.

(And then, because we are curlers, we all went to the bar and resumed the tailgate, including grilling some steaks in the outdoor patio at the bar.  It’s nice to know people who are in with the bartenders.)