San Francisco seems to me a fantastic town – as Hunter S Thompson put it, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro". It looks great, has heaps going on and the locals, for the most part, have been a blast.
This is not Oakland
Oakland, on the other hand, is definitely not San Francisco. An area dominated by a vast working port, which is occupied by predominantly dispirited people – and why wouldn’t they be dispirited when their principle local landmark, the Oakland Alameda stadium, is approached in much the same way you might approach a prison, and is bordered by what appears to be an open sewer. And the A’s play there, let’s not forget that.
A postcard is usually accompanied by the sentiment "I wish you were here". On Tuesday, I’m not sure that was true. First things first - the weather in Oakland is awful. I know this will seem ungrateful coming from an Englishman, but we’d just got off the plane from Austin (109 degrees) and it was a bit of a shock. To make matters worse The Kiwi stole my jumper for warmth.
A couple of things that stood out from the game on Tuesday:
Torii Hunter was never getting to that ball that dropped down into shallow right field in the 6th(?) inning. We in the stands knew it (we were sitting near the bullpen so had a pretty good view), the batter knew it, so did the runners and unless he’s lost his mind, Torii knew it too. His jump looked terrible to me and he tried to compensate by going for the Hollywood dive with two runners on. Maybe I’m doing him a disservice, but that was a pretty shitty decision to my eye
The Bullpen was absolutely nails – Having two guys warming up in the bottom of the 3rd is not a sight you want to see, but give them their due, each and every one of them did a job. Scott Downs, frankly, can do no wrong (and watching Richards warm up was pretty impressive – that fastball of his has some serious snap to it).
Has anyone spotted Takahashi’s personal warn-up sensei? He seems to start with a heavy ball (like a miniature shot-put) at about 2/3 distance before moving to the mound with a normal ball. Whatever it is he’s doing, it seemed to work pretty well. More of that please...
Takanotsoshitty & personal warm up samurai
The absolute low-light of the night was spotting The Chosen Fish, Mike Trout, coming on to run with enough time in the game to expect that he might bat (I explained his might to The Kiwi at great, and probably dull, length while waiting in the beer queue), only to see him replaced by Jeff Mathis, The Chosen Turd. Talk about rubbing your nose in it. Everyone knows by now that you can’t polish a turd, though as Lyle Spencer seems to demonstrate on a nightly basis, you can, apparently, cover it in glitter.
It would have been beaten by this sight in the top of the 9th, with the bases juiced, if the outcome hadn’t been so damn predictable and the game hadn’t already been decided.
Check out Fernando Rodney with the two girls in the front row as he came back from the bullpen at the end of the game. They were begging him for some balls (we’ve all been there with Fernando) and he seemed keen to chat. I overheard that these girls had managed to get hold of three balls during the game, which is precisely three more than Rodney has.
Howie is grinning like a Cheshire cat ahead of his post-game interview. It appears that the TV producer is giving it the full "You da man, Howie", Jose is clearly basking in Howie’s reflected glory (and having to lean back to cope with Howie’s overwhelming awesomeness) while the Oakland staffer in the background, having been reminded what a proper ball player looks like, dreams wistfully about better days. In the background, out of shot was Billy Mac with a massive shit-eating grin, like he’d just been told he was teaching the sophomore gym class at the local girl’s high school.
Howie You da man
A couple of thoughts about watching baseball in Oakland...
They have a stadium reporter, called Kara, running around doing fluff pieces to keep the crowd entertained. She’s woefully misused. The only questions she should be investigating are 1. Where are the fans? 2. Where is the baseball team? 3. Who are these guys in green and gold, because apart from Stanzilla, I barely recognised any of them
The few fans that do appear to care, are operating a sort of protest in the right field bleachers. Unfortunately, like most things in Oakland, it is under-manned, poorly executed and has as much chance of succeeding as the A’s have of scoring more than 3 runs a game any time soon. On the plus side they all appear to have drunk a shit-load, so you never know. Good things happen when drunk, and according to Mayhem, the best things happen when you’re wearing no pants, so there is a solution for them. Partial nudity. Can't see it working out well for the rest of us, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Having said that, I would protest too, if my club lied to me in the way theirs does to them…
Lies & deceit
Any time your local fans are outnumbered and outgunned by Angels fans, there’s something unfortunate going on. And there weren’t more than a couple of hundred of us.
Just Another Halo Victory
That’s about it from me. I’ll be around for the reverse fixture in Anaheim next Friday, so hopefully I can show The Kiwi a better time there, because she still hasn’t forgiven me for making her sit through the Oakland edition and she’s growing quite attached to her Phillies cap...