Friday, August 14, 2009
10 Thoughts: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
That Bootleg Family caught a game in Oakland on Sunday, August 2…
(1) One day after a sellout crowd watched the A's retire Rickey Henderson's #24 on the first Saturday night in August, only 13,070 fans showed up for the finale on a cloudless 69-degree afternoon. The A's are drawing about 17,000/game this season – down 3,500 from 2008 and a 35% drop from just four years ago. For this three-game series against Toronto, the A's discounted tickets through Facebook and their own team site by up to 50% and STILL couldn't fill half the seats for two of the games. Thanks to this rampant apathy, we scored three great seats behind home plate. But, our long walk from the BART station, across the overpass and into the Coliseum was positively funereal.
(2) Inexplicably, several scalpers roam the grounds just outside the ballpark as if they're selling some kind of precious commodity. When business is down, they resort to making unwelcome conversation with passing fans. With Mrs. Bootleg and the boy on either side of me, my ear picks up on some almost-explicit commentary from one of the scalpers (already in progress): "…she got them little athletic legs. You need to come up out them jeans, girl." I try to be sly behind my sunglasses, looking side to side to see the piece of hotness this guy's ogling. With no one else within 200 yards of us, it occurs to me that he's talking about Mrs. Bootleg. Does he not know how OLD she is?
(3) We left our hotel in San Francisco around 11:15 AM. It was overcast and 58 degrees. I wore shorts, my green Rickey jersey and a long-sleeve t-shirt underneath. At the Coliseum, our seats were in the sun for the first three innings. I roasted beneath layers of cotton and polyester before we got some shade. I never wear a jersey to day games anywhere else for this very reason. All this time, I thought the entire Bay Area was some sort of wonderful Arctic anomaly in the summer. Turns out it's just San Francisco.
(4) For the past 10 years, I've eaten the same thing whenever I've gone to a game in Oakland. The popcorn chicken and fries basket – served right behind Section 116 – has been a bountiful fried harvest of awesome for as long as I can remember. And, if you make small talk with the Cicely Tyson lookalike behind the counter, she'll pile on a little more. Tragically, the mountain of popcorn chicken is no more. It's been replaced by a "six-piece popcorn chicken meal". Six pieces! That's mathematically less than a "snack" and nowhere near a "meal". I opt for the Atomic Hot Link from the sausage stand.
(5) Rickey Henderson is on the cover of the A's August program. Here are the other players who've graced the front of the team's magazine this season: Jason Giambi (April/May), Matt Holliday (June), Orlando Cabrera (July). None of these guys are still on the team. It's August 14th.
(6) Y'all know that I'm not one of THOSE fans, right? I hit the ATM before I go to the game and completely accept that I'll be paying outrageous prices for pretty much everything. The aforementioned hot link and a Fat Tire beer set me back $20. Whatever. So, with that out of the way, I'd like to respectfully suggest the A's reconsider the $55 toddler t-shirt/shorts set. Does this team not realize that 2T, 3T and 4T sizes are only good for a few months before your child outgrows it? Half the A's roster is younger than my son, so you'd think they'd know these things.
(7) The Coliseum's men's rooms feature long "pissing troughs" instead of individual urinals. My son, Jalen, was…umm…"mildly freaked out" by this contraption. He insisted we use a "regular potty", so we went around the corner and entered one of the three private stalls. It was around the 7th inning and I can say, without hesitation or a hint of hyperbole, that the cleanliness of the Coliseum's stalls ranks a solid third behind any public restroom at the beach and the cans at JFK Airport.
(8) A's starter Vin Mazzaro gave up five runs in the first inning as Toronto cruised to a 7-2 win. The Blue Jays' first six batters reached base. The game was over before the A's first hitter stepped to the plate. I paid slightly less for these tickets than the cost of the MLB Extra Innings package which enables me to watch this crap all season long from the comfort of my couch.
(9) For the second straight year, Jalen got to run the bases after the game. Last year, he was only four years old, so I had to run the bases with him. This year, I was informed that children five years and older can't run with a parent. Mrs. Bootleg's brilliantly delivered "You're disappointed, aren't you?" pretty much captured my mood. I mean, that's the field that Rickey Henderson ran on!
(10) On the BART ride back to our hotel, a certified crazy person sat across the way from us. He brought a saucepan onboard and proceeded to play it like it like a snare drum while singing unintelligibly. I would've moved my family, but Jalen could not take his eyes off him. I tried to distract the boy with the assortment of crappy A's merchandise and souvenirs I'd purchased, but after a few minutes I gave up. That "insane drummer guy" was probably the coolest thing Jalen's seen in his entire life to this point.
See you in 2010, Oakland.