The 8th game of our MLB stadium tour takes us across the San Francisco Bay into Oakland to see the A’s at O.co Coliseum, short for Overstock.com Coliseum, previously known as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and most recently termed by me as Crappy Concrete Coliseum. And I’m not just describing the venue, but everything around it too. We rode the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train over from our hotel, and once we entered Oakland, all we saw for miles around us was industrial warehouses, cargo containers, and run-down neighborhoods. There was a perk though: an elevated ramp led us right from the BART station, over the vacant, sketchy, fenced-in lots, to the stadium a few hundred feet away. It was definitely cool to visit the site of some history though, like the extraordinary comeback from worst to first – along with an MLB record 20 straight wins – in 2002 under GM Billy Beane (described in the book and movie Moneyball), after the team had to get rid of superstars Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen, for a much, much cheaper roster.
The Coliseum is the third oldest baseball stadium (originally built for the Raiders in 1966), being used by the A’s since they moved from Kansas City in ’68. It can seat 63,000 fans during football season, but during baseball season there are huge tarps covering most of the upper deck seats, creating the illusion that there are only 15,000 empty seats instead of 40,000 (A’s fan attendance averages only about 20,000). Walking around the arena certainly gave us a different feel compared to the other stadiums we’ve been to so far. For instance, my dad and I could have held hands and skipped around in zig-zag formations because of how empty the concourse was. But we didn’t.
We also circled the whole venue and saw a lot of the same restaurants over and over again, getting the idea that they were okay selling a small variety of food items. But that really wasn’t such a bad thing, because it offered us a good chance to get some of the classics. There were burger shacks, nacho stands, garlic fries, sausage sandwiches (the Linguisa Sandwich from Saag’s is apparently the trademark), and of course hot dogs. And the dogs are actually known to be the thickest and juiciest in all of baseball, so we opted to try them. Miller’s 1/3-pound “big dog” lived up to its name, and was perfect with the standard ketchup, onions, and relish.
And this wasn’t in Oakland, but I want to throw in a bit about the food trucks we stopped at earlier in the day in downtown San Fran (I feel like a hot dog just isn’t enough food for a blog post). I think there were about 7 different trucks in this sketchy alleyway, ranging from Indian to Eastern European to Jewish soul food. We ordered from the Fins on the Hoof truck, with a motto of “Where the sea meets the barnyard.” We split a crawfish/andouille sausage poutine (fries topped with crawfish and andouille sausage), and a pork and beef meatball sandwich. So much for eating healthier outside of the ballparks…
It was cool to see veteran Coco Crisp and hard-hitting Josh Reddick (who’s leading the A’s in runs, hits, average, slugging %, OBP, and bases) in action… but other than that I wasn’t especially excited to see any certain players (we also already saw the Padres play a few days ago). And there were a couple of no-name pitchers on the mound, which led to a good amount of scoring early on. Brandon Moss had a 2-run homer in the 5-run 1st, and Reddick hit a 2-run triple in the 4th.
And we found the greatest A’s fan in the park: an old man with a cape and a propeller cap playing the banjo, walking through all the sections yelling “We’re number one!” He seemed like he could have been a little off, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Final score: A’s 10, Padres 2
Starting pitchers: Travis Blackley – 6 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 3 Ks; Anthony Bass (L) – 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 9 R (7 ER), 3 Ks
Home run: Brandon Moss