I volunteered to help run a curling clinic this afternoon, and because I was on that side of the Bay anyway, when it was over I headed over to O.co Coliseum (possibly the most terrible stadium name ever) to catch the second home game of the Oakland A’s season… because in Oakland, the seats are always cheap and plentiful. (Today: $10 from a scalper for tickets that are $16 face.)
And why are A’s tickets so cheap? Well, because they tend to trade away players once they start to get expensive (see awesome jersey for Player To Be Named Later I spotted while leaving the game) and because the team’s not that good. Which they mostly proved by going down 7-0 after the top of the 4th inning.
But then, a funny thing happened… those scrappy little Moneyball players started to crawl their way back. First with a manufactured sac fly run in the bottom of the 4th and then a solo shot from Jemile Weeks in the bottom of the 5th. (Weeks is really fun to watch by the way… some big pocketed team will probably snatch him up in a few years, sadly.) Then they scored two in the 6th off a Kurt Suzuki double that nearly cleared the wall in left and got every one cheering, but they were still down 8-4. In the 7th Yoenis Cespedes launched a three run bomb to deep center to bring the A’s within one and the crowd — all half-dozen or so that were left — went nuts. I briefly thought about how amazing it would be if the A’s could actually come back and win…
… but they didn’t. Of course they didn’t. The only remaining highlight after the Cespedes homerun was the bunch of balloons that first floated out of the stadium at the end of the 7th and then apparently lost buoyancy as they came back into view in the 9th. They floated around awhile, nearly landing in center field prompting an usher to run out and jump in the air manically trying to grab them. Eventually they floated over to the left field seats where another usher retrieved them. And so ended the balloon drama… and more or less the game.
And so it begins…
Okay, not actually the regular season yet, but the pre-season Bay Bridge Exhibition series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics got me out to the ballpark for the first time this year. I wasn’t sure if I was rooting for the A’s or the Giants, but I wore an A’s jersey that was a free giveaway from last season, and I’m kind of an American League gal, so if forced, I guess I was leaning A’s. On other hand, I actually live in San Francisco so…
Keeping score at a spring training game in a National League (i.e. no DH) park is quite a challenge. I utilized my new-ish smart phone more than once to keep track of all the crazy substitutions. I also used it to tweet in the middle of the game… yeah, I’m kind of ashamed of myself.
The game itself was pretty exciting. Madison Bumgarner was much more solid than the last time I saw him pitch for the Giants when he gave up 8 straight hits to the Twins to start the game. However, in the third he gave up a single to Jemile Weeks, followed immediately by a homerun to Eric Sogard to put the A’s up 2-0. Sogard was an early substitute for Cliff “ought to play cricket” Pennington. Quick show, Pennington! (That’s for you, you-know-who-you-are.)
It looked for awhile like the underdog A’s might pull it off against the much more beloved Giants, but then Jordan Norberto gave up a solo homerun to Melky Cabrera in the 6th to bring the Giants within one. A disastrous outing by Fautino DeLosSantos in the seventh led to three Giants runs on one hit: a walk to Ryan Theriot, a hit-by-pitch to Nate Schierholtz, an error by Josh Donaldson at third that allowed Theriot to score, a fielders choice by Angel Pagan that scored Schierholtz, and finally a solid single by Melky Cabrera to score Emmanuel Burriss.
Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson came out in the 9th with three quick strikeouts to get the save and end the game. Within about five minutes, seagulls descended out of nowhere onto the stands, eating all the leftover food and beer. I have no idea where they came from or why they didn’t show up earlier. I took a bunch of pictures, including one of the seagulls… they’re all below. Baseball — it’s back!