Michelle and I knew months ago that we’d be heading up to the Bay Area in July and I’d checked the Angels schedule to see if they would be playing the A’s. Sure enough, the Angels and Athletics met up right out of the All-Star break. Due to our busy schedule (and wanting to see all of our Bay Area-based friends) we could go a game either on a Saturday or a Sunday. I picked Sunday because both games were during the day and Saturday’s was a day game after a night game. It was the Angels–away from Anaheim. The last time I’d seen them play on the road was in July of 2005 in New York against the Yankees.
I hoped there would be batting practice at this day game after a day game…
Look to the left–ooh! My first view of the stadium…
When we got to the stadium at 10:55am there was already quite a bit of a line:
It was Kurt Suzuki T-Shirt Day at the Coliseum… complete with pooka shells printed on the neck. By the time I got to right field and took my first look at this new (to me) stadium it was already 11:05.
There were a dozen people already there and the only people fielding baseballs in right were two batboys… a friendly Oakland fan told me they never toss anything up.
After a few minutes I headed over to left field and Michelle took some photos that I turned into this panorama:
It was a bit more crowded but there were plenty of righties hitting and some pitchers shagging in the outfield. The A’s hit about two or three baseballs to the stands… none near me. And I saw a few balls thrown to fans… nothing to me. I wasn’t nervous about getting shut out because I was one of a handful of Angels fans in the stadium. The A’s wrapped up BP at about 11:35am (the Angels were scheduled to start hitting at 11:40). I took off the green and put on the red: my circa 2004 Darin Erstad T-shirt. I chatted with Michelle while we waited for the Angels to take the field.
I’d seen a few pitchers come out to throw along the first base line… but no hitters were anywhere to be found. 11:40 came and went… still no hitters. Oh, no! Groundskeepers started taking the cage down… I was still without a baseball. I told Michelle the Angels weren’t going to hit and we took off for the field level. I got over to the line just as the pitchers were finishing but nobody threw their ball anywhere.
To get over my disappointment and not snagging a ball during (severely shortened) batting practice I figured I’d go for autographs. Our actual seats for the game were in Section 111, just behind the Angels dugout.
Yes, I actually paid for these seats. Got ’em for less than 72 bucks for two on StubHub… sometimes you find some good deals on that site. Be sure to check it out.
First up was Matt Palmer, who has grown his facial hair back since the last time I talked to him. After that I got backup catcher Bobby Wilson’s signature and then some of the Angels came out to play catch and stretch. After getting snubbed by Howie Kendrick and Chone Figgins as they finished throwing I got Gary Matthews, Jr. to throw me my first ball of the day. YES! No shutout for you today, Oakland Coliseum! I also saved a little kid’s life on this snag, by the way. Gary threw the ball from about fifty feet away but it tailed to my right a little bit. I stretched as far as I could and made the catch in the front row of the stands… right in front of a boy about six years old who had his hands down by his sides. He and his family hadn’t even seen it coming.
I saw Brian Fuentes heading out toward the bullpen… he stopped to talk to a family he knew and I waited patiently until–aannndd a little kid ran right up and asked him for his autograph. He looked down and said, “Hang on.” I lined up right behind the little dude and a minute later I had the All-Star’s autograph. I made sure to thank him for taking the time.
I saw Erick Aybar tossing with a trainer back along the first base line. When they finished I yelled, “Erick! Over here!” and as he was walking toward the dugout he threw me Ball #2 on the day. Someone behind me said, “Good catch.” Really, I’d just stood there and he threw it right to me. I didn’t have to move an inch.
Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders were signing autographs nearby and since I’d already gotten Joe’s (three times–on stubs from his complete game in May) I decided to hang out and get Jered’s. He reached up across the dugout and signed this ticket:
Then Stomper came by in a little car and I took his photo because, well
, I love mascots.
And a little later Robb Quinlan signed a few and I got him, too! Five autographs in one day–that’s a record for me!
About this time the game was getting started and, man, it was a great one. In the second inning though, Michelle and I toured the stadium. As this was our only trip to the Coliseum, possible ever, we wanted to take a good look around. Plus, it got us out of the sun for a while…Look at that concourse–pretty ordinary… that’s right off of first base. And…
Walking behind the batter’s eye… pretty dead out there. Yuck–so much concrete. Cold, unfriendly, Oakland Coliseum. Blah.
Then we ended up in deep left field:
Before going down to the third base line:
A’s starter, Brett Anderson, who didn’t allow an Angel to reach base until he had two outs in
the seventh inning, gave up two hits and no walks in eight shutout
frames–and lost! Michelle and I watched a great duel between Anderson and John Lackey, who went nine innings and got the win! Brian Fuentes picked up the save in the 10th inning after Bobby Abreu hit a line shot out to right that produced the game’s only run! Here he is touching home plate after the homer.
About three other balls got hit really well, too… but they were just too high up and the wind caught ’em. Jason Giambi hit a blast to center that I thought was gone but Matthews grabbed it on the warning track.
So, my impression of the Coliseum is this: ordinary. It wasn’t lousy by any means. It was nice (the ushers were a bit grumpy–nothing new). My expectations were low so I wasn’t disappointed. There’s absolutely NO personality to this park and I see why they’re not selling many tickets (aside from the fact that the A’s are lousy this year)… who wants to really come back to the Coliseum day after day? Not me. The attendance was 18,539… less than half of what I’m used to in Anaheim. But it was great to see it with my own eyes, watch a game with my wife, enjoy the beautiful weather (surprise, surprise!), and snag three baseballs…
What? Yep, the third ball of the day came from recently promoted (and playing first base) Brandon Wood. He recorded the third out of the sixth inning and jogged toward the dugout. Normally, Chone Figgins gets the third out balls and tosses them, at home and, apparently, on the road. This time, however, Wood tossed it right to me while I was in position behind the dugout! Cool! I love to look at the difference between a rubbed up game ball and a BP ball.
So long, Oakland–I may never see another game at your Coliseum. I’ll leave you with some more photos, enjoy!