Boston Red Sox
W: J. Lackey
L: S. Doolttle
S: K. Uehara
The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a football arena. In an era where we are so accustomed to baseball only parks, the multi-use stadium feels like a relic of the bad old days. It is expansive, it has little character and it is ugly. I had an amazing time at the O.Co Coliseum and these may be the best fans in baseball.
There are a lot of negatives about O.Co that I will get into in a little while. The first thing that I want to mention however is how much I enjoyed their parking set-up. With the stadium sitting far away from any real developed area, the only place to park is in the A's official parking lots. Two days ago I spent $35 cash at AT&T Park and had to cross a bridge to get to the game. Not only was the price here in Oakland only $17, they accepted credit cards and directed the cars to park right in front of the stadium. There were some tailgaters setup in the lot and I was happy to see that the A's fans far outnumbered the Red Sox fans which is rarely the case in any stadium across the country that is hosting the Sox.
As soon as we walked inside O.Co I got the very distinct feeling that I was in a football stadium. It is hard to put into words, but everything about the atmosphere just feels like football. The cold concrete walls and the seats that seem to go on forever are things that I love about football stadiums, but loathe seeing in baseball parks. Let me be the 1,000,000th person to say the following: It is time to build a new stadium for the Oakland Athletics. I do not want to see the San Jose Athletics any time soon, but this fan base deserves a better stadium. With the Golden State Warriors heading across the bay to San Francisco there will be a perfect spot to build right across the parking lot from O.Co so hopefully this situation will take care of itself within the next couple of years.
With very little pregame festivities around the park, Rindler and I went straight to finding some food. The smiling cartoon pig seemed inviting enough, so I grabbed a tri tip sandwich from Ribs and Things and headed to my seat. For those of you who have been following along, I have been buying (and shamefully eating) an ice cream helmet at every park. I justified eating so much ice cream by telling myself that I was collecting a mini-helmet from each park so I can frame them all at the end of my tour. Oakland you have ruined my collection. Apparently in all of their infinite wisdom the Oakland A's decided to discontinue the ice cream helmets last season! Sure they have regular sized helmets that are filled with popcorn, but now I am going to have 29 mini-helmets with a giant green one right in the middle. Well played Oakland.
I would come to understand why the decision to stop selling the helmets was made as the night turned cooler. This is the first park that I have been to this summer to offer hot chocolate as the game approached the final innings. I am sure that San Francisco would have offered the same warm treats, but I saw a day game on the bay where it was 70 degrees and sunny all day.
The teams that I have left on my schedule may not want me coming to their stadiums. I am currently 8-11 on this tour and on a three game skid watching the Padres lose in San Diego followed by the Giants losing at AT&T and now the A's dropping a tough one to the Red Sox here in Oakland. I have seen some very good baseball this summer, and today's matchup between two first place teams was no different.
It seems like every park that I go to I am seeing young pitchers take the mound for every team. When this tour is over I will most likely look back and track stats such as average age of starting pitchers, but for now I will simply comment on the fact that there appear to be more young arms in the game than ever. Jarrod Parker toed the rubber for the home club and after a bad inning that included a couple of errors and home plate umpire CB Buckner exiting the game, he pitched well. He gave up only three hits over seven innings, but could not get any run support from his batting brethren to help him out.
Home plate Umpire CB Buckner had a bad day of his own. In the top of the second a 92 MPH fastball from the hand of Parker struck Buckner square in his face mask. He immediately dropped to his knees and remained there for several minutes as trainers came to check on him. He would ultimately exit the game leaving the umpiring crew to improvise with three left on the field.
As mentioned above, this was a tough loss for the home team. After coming back to tie the game in the sixth inning, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia drove in two runs in the top of the seventh to put the A's to bed. I mentioned it above, but the fans in Oakland are among the best, if not the best in baseball. One of the main reasons that I want a new stadium here is that the acoustics at the Coliseum do not do these fans justice. This place has the chance to be the loudest stadium on the planet if they could make it a little smaller and keep all of the noise from going straight up in the air. In the left field bleachers there is a group of fans that hang a “Respect Oakland Baseball” sign for all to see. In right there are even more characters with banners on display that have to be seen to be believed. My photos do not do them justice. I found myself peering out at the bleachers several times during the game to see what these fans were up to. They are loud, they are passionate and they are dedicated to helping their team win. These are what baseball fans are supposed to be.
On day #2 of my tour I met Bald Vinny in New York. Vinny is one of the infamous bleacher creatures who have been harassing every visiting right fielder for decades. In my interview with Vinny we discussed how there needs to be more fans like the creatures. It took me 14 more stadiums, but I finally found them. Every year we keep wondering why the A's make these improbable runs with rosters that play well above their skill level. They don't have a team of superstars, yet they always find a way to be in the playoff mix. It is time to stop giving all of the credit to Billy Beane and Moneyball and time to recognize a fan base that is collectively willing their team to win.
Next up: Game 2 at O.co Coliseum
Game Time Temp: 61
First Pitch Time: 7:05 PM
National Anthem: Cynthia Anderson
Seventh Inning Stretch: Generic Instrumental music
Total Pitches Thrown: 286
Total Hits: 9
Total Singles: 6
Total Doubles: 1
Total Triples: 1
Total Home Runs: 1
Total Walks: 6
Total Strike Outs: 14
Total Errors: 3
Game Time: 3:06
Attendance: 27,084 (77.2% full)
Home Plate Umpire: CB Buckner/Bill Miller
Miles Traveled: 75 miles
Time in Car: 2 hour 30 minutes
Sleep Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
Bottles of Water: 4
Food Eaten: Fish Tacos from Claim Jumpers
Ballpark Food: Tri Tip Sandwich
Scoreboard Cap Game: Under Cap #3
Money spent on parking: $17
Money spent on ticket: $74.05
Cost of Program: $5
Money spent on food: $9.75
Total money spent on Merchandise: $26.80
Total Money spent at stadium: $127.60
Total Money spent today $127.60