Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Phillies @ A’s

Hello, still from San Francisco. Things are going well here, although I am still thrown for a loop by the cold. But last night, A met up with us and we went to dinner at some freaky Pan-Asian place. It’s always good to see A, and the food was pretty decent, although I had great paranoia that I would ruin my diet for the rest of the century. When I got home and added it up, I actually should have stacked on another satay or two.

Today, I went to see Oakland host Philly, and as always, you get a nice bulleted list.

  • For the record, I have not previously been to Oakland’s coliseum, and I had never seen the A’s. I saw the Phillies last year at Coors Field twice; once for the infamous tarp incident, and once at Coors for the final game of a 3-game sweep in which the Rockies won the pennant.
  • This is the first game I’ve been to where I’ve used public transportation since a Yankees game I went to in 2006 when I still lived there. I walked down a few blocks to the Powell Street BART, then walked from the train to the stadium on the other end.
  • After riding the NYC subways, the BART is hilarious to the point of absurdity. There’s carpet on the floors, the seats are padded and upholstered and nicer than most plane seats, and nothing smelled of piss. Nobody asked me for money (within the train), and they have digital message boards telling you when the next train is arriving. And cell phones work in the trains. If you magically transported a BART line to New York, it would be destroyed in 17 seconds. I don’t understand how it works here, but it was nice.
  • I wrote in my journal and then read a book, and couldn’t remember the last time I did that on a subway. It was a real throwback.
  • A lot of Oakland reminded me of some Chicagoland stretched-out urban sprawl, but with water and shipping cranes, and that’s not so bad. I always imagined it would have entire city blocks on fire and bodies hanging from lampposts and laying in gutters, but maybe that’s just because of the Raiders.
  • After I got out of the train, I had this weird jog where I had to go down the stairs to the main level, and then go up a set of stairs and over to a huge half-mile long ramp that led to the stadium. I got there at 11:00 for a 12:30 game, so there weren’t any people on the walkway.
  • The McAfee Coliesum is used for both the Raiders and the A’s, so as I walked in, I got all of the usual propaganda for both teams.
  • The will call window is set up so that if you ignore all of the signs and walk about a hundred feet to the right, you are there. If you follow the signs and go left, you have to walk all the way around the entire stadium complex, which is about 47 miles in circumference. Guess which one I did.
  • This was another geriatrics and pediatrics game, and a fleet of buses showed up with summer camp kids, all dressed in identical-colored shirts. And of course, the Taliban could cause as much terror as ten school buses of fourth graders, even if you spotted the jihadders a dozen crates of stinger missiles. As far as the geriatric part, there were more Rascals than an Our Gang marathon. But I mind the old folks a lot more because it’s easier to beat a kid until they shut the fuck up than it is to beat a parapalegic until they can miraculously walk again.
  • There were a lot of Phillies fans. A LOT of Phillies fans.
  • Complaint one about the mixed-use stadium: the concourse looks like a maximum-security prison built to riot-proof specifications in the 1960s. After seeing AT&T Park yesterday and then seeing this, it was a lot like touring Frank Lloyd Wright houses, and then taking a tour of a high-security mental institution built by a county government where a board member had a brother-in-law that owned a concrete plant.
  • My seat was not bad; I was 15 rows up and in the middle of the section immediately to the first base side of the backstop net. These would be seats only available to dugout club members at a lot of parks, but I bought mine for $50 online. I had a pretty excellent view of the game, and if I walked up to the front of the section, I was directly on top of the visitor’s dugout.
  • Complaint two about the mixed-use stadium: the seating is really fucked up. First, things are a lot steeper than they are deep, which is standard for football, but it made things weird. Also, the outfield has two little clips of section at the club level on either side, but no ground seats, and this huge blank spot of no club seats. Then there are two levels of suites above that. The whole thing makes it look like they started with a 14,000-seat minor league field, and then added layer after layer of decks above that to pump it up for football.
  • The only A’s I know are either retired, traded, or dead. If I was playing a video game where I could pick Jason Giambi and Catfish Hunter and Cory Lidle, I would know what was going on, but I didn’t.
  • The national anthem had a flyover with a Coast Guard helicopter, which was weird.
  • There were far more hipster doofuses at the game than I’ve seen anywhere before. I guess if you’re going to be stylishly ironic and get all tatted up and wear an undershirt only and thick glasses, Oakland’s a good place to do that, and the A’s are a good team for you.
  • The game started, and this was very much an AL game, where everything was either a strikeout or a homerun, and the term “manufactured run” draws a blank stare.
  • Complaint three about the mixed-use stadium: as this is a football stadium, they added a shit-ton of seats to make it gigantic, including a giant deck of seats across the outfield at high altitude that increased the capacity to 60,000. The attendance at this game: 17,000. To “alleviate” this, the upper deck seats are all covered with huge vinyl banners with various logos and years of championships in giant letters. But still, when you look across at this gigantic section of 20,000 wall-to-wall seats, it’s pretty depressing.
  • There was an inning when I almost thought they would have a grand slam, but it didn’t happen. Someone did have two home runs. There were a lot of strikeouts. Are there other things that can happen? Maybe they can just flip coins from now on.
  • I do have to say the weather was pretty decent. It touched the 70s, and I was in the uncovered area, so I got some sun. The wildfires have been kicking up a lot of wind and soot, which has been on-and-off screwing up pitching at both parks, but it didn’t bother my eyes or anything.
  • The big screens and scoreboards were football-type, so there was one small video screen, and one Dodgers-style amber monochrome screen, and another set of two on the other side. They weren’t as good as Coors field, but they weren’t as bad as Dodger Stadium. There wasn’t any walkup music, and the announcing was at a minimum. I listened to the game on the local AM, and the announcers were not that colorful, but they did have a lot of stats and history, and talked a lot about the historic Phillies-A’s rivalry when they were both out in PA.
  • The game was FAST – just over two hours. Oakland shut out the Phillies, and scored five.
  • One more complaint about the mixed-use stadium – it was NOT designed for egress. It took forever for the mass of people to slowly leak out of there. I don’t know what would happen if 60,000 drunken Raiders fan were leaving at the same time

So they game was eh, the stadium was not great, but I did have a pretty good time of it anyway. And I’m glad I went, because allegedly the As are getting a new home in four or five years, and I’m still pissed that I never went to Shea Stadium, and now I never will.

Gotta go wash off suntan lotion now.