In Praise of the Oakland Coliseum

I get it, the Oakland Coliseum isn’t the best place to watch a baseball game. There have been sewage leaks. The stadium is surrounded by parking lots, chain-link fences topped with barbed wire, and no place to hang out before or after the game. The seats are far away. Nothing about it screams like a good place to watch a game.

But there’s no accounting for the novelty of it. And the people there are second-to-none.

I went to my first game at the Coliseum in May of this year. I came in with zero expectations, and the BART ride through Oakland did nothing to increase that. Hoping off at the Coliseum stop left me wondering what the heck I was doing. To get to the stadium, you have to go down and out of the station, back up some more stairs to an open-air concrete skywalk topped by a chain-link fence to the grey Coliseum. Combine it with an overcast day and well, you get no visual stimulation.

20180722_000635

The only break you have from grey are the green and gold banners as you make your way to the stadium.

But along that walk to the stadium, I had my first encounters with A’s fans. In front of me, a couple were bringing their two young sons — who were all clad in A’s garb — to the game. Halfway through the walkway, a picnic table was set up by a local Little League team selling baked goods to support their organization. $2 for a cupcake designed like a baseball? You better believe I bought one (and it was darn good).

I went through security, which was a breeze considering it was still a couple of hours before the game, and shared a joke or two with the ushers and guards who were there.

My seat was behind home plate and I entered through centerfield, so I decided to do a lap of the stadium before heading to my assigned spot. The walk takes you through all the various stages of the 52-year-old ground. There was the old with the wide ramps and blocked off concourses. More modern were some of the suites and restaurant that provided a nice view of the field. They even had a social hangout spot for my fellow Millenials to grab a drink and chat while at the ballpark.

20180525_173445.jpg

For whatever reason, the view down the right-field line really struck me.

After I got my fill of the different views, I went to my seat — Section 217, Row 4, Seat 5. Right away, I was struck by how good the view actually was. I didn’t feel too far away from the action. Sure, Mt. Davis isn’t a great but hey, in a way, it’s become iconic.

20180525_183641.jpg

The views of the hills would have been better, but in a way, Mt. Davis has its own charm.

Seeing the monstrosity that is Mt. Davis awakened something in me. Yes, it isn’t going to help the Coliseum’s case as the best place to catch a game. Yes, there is way too much foul territory down the lines. But looking around at the field, it all hit me — this is the home to so many successful Oakland teams. I’ve watched countless playoff games from there on TV (with most involving my Yankees). There was a sense of history that you can feel that is hard to get with the newer stadiums.

Read more: My trip to Comerica Park

You walk around the stadium and it feels like you’ve traveled back to the ’80s. There’s something to be said about walking around in those concrete halls and the large seating sections that can’t be found at other stadiums. It’s really become a novelty and part of baseball history.

Maybe it was because I watched ‘Field of Dreams’ on my cross-country flight to the Bay Area, but once I was out there, I had nostalgia for ’80s baseball even though I’m a ’90s kid. And really, there’s no other place in baseball where you can get that. And what’s baseball without a sense of history?

Now, I’m not saying that the Coliseum should be the A’s permanent home. I would venture it’s not a great place to go for 81 games a year. But if you’re a baseball fan, especially a younger one, it’s definitely a place you need to go before it closes for good.

By capacity, it’s the seventh-largest stadium in the MLB with 47,170 seats, but can hold more that would make it the largest in the league.

It’s also the fourth-oldest park still in existence and second oldest in the MLB. And while it was built in 1966, it’s the ’70s and ’80s that still live nearly 40 years later. Heck, even the PA system still has that echo-y tone that makes you feel like you’re at a small high school football stadium. There’s just something neat about that.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give some of the credit to the A’s fans, too. Their wackiness from the horns you’ll hear throughout the stands to the giant waving flags in the corner outfield is something that I haven’t seen to that magnitude at other places. A majority of them were wearing some sort of A’s sweatshirt and/or jersey with a fine mix of current and former players. I’ve always considered them among the best in the MLB and going to a game just cemented that notion in my mind.

For their sake, I do hope the A’s get a nice, smaller ballpark sometime soon. As an Atlanta resident, I’ve seen the improvements that a new stadium can make to a gameday experience.

But the notion that the Coliseum is just a dump and has no place in baseball is just wrong. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there, but I certainly will always appreciate my trip there.

Support this blog by browsing through all my cards I have for sale. I’m on COMC here. You can check out my baseball and hockey ones here, while football and basketball are located here. For entertainment and various sports ones, check out this eCrater site.

Tim Hudson and Barry Zito’s greatest hits with the Oakland Athletics

After weeks of speculation, and weeks of campaigning by Buster Olney, the Barry ZitoTim Hudson pitching matchup will finally happen.

The San Francisco Gate reported on Tuesday that the Athletics will give Zito his first start in two years on Saturday, which would match him up against former teammate and current Giant, Hudson. It’s a nice gesture that will drum up fans interest in an otherwise meaningless matchup between two teams that are well outside of the playoff picture.

Get all of your baseball cards here.

The matchup, as well as the Athletics honoring Mark Mulder, brings back memories of the Big Three and how they, as well as guys like Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi, and Miguel Tejada, made the ‘Moneyball’ A’s so effective.

It’s been 11 years since Zito and Hudson were in the same rotation — the A’s sent Hudson to the Braves (for a package that turned out to be nothing. But in those six years that they teamed up to lead Oakland produced some great results. Here are some of their greatest moments in Oakland.

July 19, 1999: Hudson shows he belongs in the bigs

In only his seventh career start, Hudson had to face the Diamondbacks — a team that would go on to win 100 games. Hudson turned in his finest start of his rookie season on that day. He pitched into the ninth and was replaced after giving up a one-out walk to Luis Gonzalez. Billy Taylor got the next two outs for the A’s to seal the win for Hudson, whose final line read 8.1 IP, three hits, two walks, nine strikeouts.

July 22, 2000: Zito makes his A’s debut

In 2000, the A’s completed their ascension to top of the AL West thanks in part to the arrival of a 22-year-old Zito. Hudson arrived in Oakland in 1999 but the arrival of Zito gave the A’s a very valuable No. 2. It all started for Zito in late July when he took on the Angels in his Major League debut. He threw five innings, and only gave up an RBI single to Edgard Clemente in the second inning, to earn the win in Oakland’s 10-3 victory. Zito ended up going 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA but only finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting.

Aug. 28, 2000: White Sox fall victim to Hudson

Hudson turned in arguably the best start of his career on this game. The White Sox would go on to win 95 games in 2000 and earn the AL Central crown, but were put down in short order by Hudson. The bases runners the White Sox could muster off of Hudson that day was a walk in the third by Paul Konerko and a fourth-inning single by Frank Thomas but both were erased on double plays. All told, Hudson needed 106 pitches to throw a complete game shutout as he only had to face the minimum 27 batters in the 3-0 victory.

Oct. 7, 2000: Zito earns first playoff win

Down 2-1 in the best-of-five series to the Yankees, the Athletics turned to Zito to keep their postseason alive. It would be no easy task as the Yankees threw out a then-five-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens in a game in the Bronx. Zito didn’t let any of that faze him as he went 5.2 innings and only gave up a RBI double to Jorge Posada before being taken out of the game. The A’s would win that game 11-1 but fell in Game 5.

Aug. 20, 2001: Zito tosses CGS against the Indians

The 2001 season started shaky for Zito, but he righted himself by mid-June and the second half of his season was much stronger. No start was better than his shutout of the 91-win Indians on Aug. 20. Zito only gave up four hits and walked two, while striking out 11. That Indians lineup was pretty good back then, too, featuring guys like Roberto Alomar, Ellis Burks, Jim Thome, and Juan Gonzalez.

Oct. 13, 2001: Zito holds the Yankees down in the ALDS

Once again facing the Yankees in the playoffs, the Athletics turned to Zito in the famous Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. Zito did everything he could to keep the Athletics in the game, going eight innings and only surrendered one run in that span (a solo shot to Posada). Of course, that performance would be for naught as Derek Jeter added to his legacy with the “flip play” to spark the Yankees to rally from a 0-2 series deficit.

Sept. 13, 2002: Zito twirls gem vs. 93-win Mariners

Zito would win the Cy Young Award in 2002 and sealed the award with his start against the Mariners on Sept. 13. That day Zito went eight innings and only gave up two hits to a lineup that featured Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Brett Boone, and John Olerud. He carried a no-hitter into the eighth, and only had the attempt broken up by Olerud.

Oct. 7, 2006: Zito gets A’s off to fast start against the Twins

For the first time in Zito’s career with the A’s, he finally got to reach the ALCS. A big part of that was his performance in Game 1. Squaring off against Johan Santana, and battling a lineup that had Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer, Zito made quick work of the Twins on that Tuesday afternoon. He cruised through eight innings, giving up just a run on four hits and got the A’s started on their 3-0 sweep of the AL Central champions.

Don’t forget to also browse through all the baseball cardsfootball cards, and hockey cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.