Friday, June 12, 2009

It Could Be Worse: We Could Be A's Fans

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to sneak in a visit to another major league stadium, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, for a Friday night game against the Baltimore Orioles. I got there in the bottom of the first inning, just in time to see the A's bat around for six runs, forging ahead toward what would eventually be a 9-1 victory over a hapless Orioles team, and bringing the A's up to seven games under .500.

The game itself was not that interesting; Matt Holliday had a late three-run homer that soared to center, former Dodger Mark "Lurch" Hendrickson mopped up what Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie left in his wake after 0.2 IP, and hyped Orioles prospects Adam Jones and Matt Wieters went a combined 1-for-6 in a yawner. But what was interesting was noting the differences between the A's experience and the beauty that is Dodger Stadium.

Dodger fans, sometimes we take for granted how nice we have it. And a trip like this helps remind you how lucky we are.

Parking was $15, same as parking at Dodger Stadium. However, access to public transportation (convenient walking distance from a BART station) provides a cheaper alternative where we have none. That does mean, however, that motorists can show up around the time of the first pitch and park three aisles away from the stadium exterior (no joke). Maybe the fact that only 12,608 showed up had something to do with such red-carpet parking proximity. In any event, after slaloming my way through miscreant tailgaters that looked like they had been there since 4 p.m. and didn't have any intention of entering the stadium gates, I made it inside.

Listening to 12,000 fans cheer is really pathetic, especially for the only team in the Bay Area that has won a World Series. It's not that the fans aren't passionate; they're waving flags in the outfield, cheering on their team, huddling together for warmth in seating only marginally less windy than Candlestick Park. But there just aren't enough of them to make much of a roar at all.

And the A's do try to fire up the team. Both of their minuscule jumbovision scoreboards show a dot-racing interlude between innings; they're giving away random shit after almost every frame; and they've got a oversized mascot designed to draw the kids (no, not Jason Giambi; Stomper the elephant). But the echoes in the concourse are noticeable, almost as if you can see the cheers bouncing off the walls amidst thin crowds.

And then, there's the security guards. Event security stands at the top of every section, shooing out fans trying to get a seat upgrade from the plentiful empty seat options. Perhaps this is well-intended, but the end effect is to have entire sections behind home plate as spottily attended as a 3 a.m. service at church on New Year's Eve. It's sad; even with all the tarped over seats atop "Mount Davis," they still aren't anywhere close to the artificially-constrained capacity.

And all this, despite the fact that they were basically giving the tickets away. For $50, we got four seats with four sodas, four hot dogs, and four bags of peanuts. And this was on a Friday night; come back Wednesday and you can get $2 tickets and $1 hot dogs. In other words, you could go to a game and eat a baker's dozen hot dogs for the same price of parking at Dodger Stadium. They're giving seats away, and no one is coming.

Even still, attending a baseball game for me is one of my favorite ways to relax. This game, being a little more quiet than I'm used to at the Ravine, was even more relaxing. My group and I got in a lot of chatting, a lot of beer ($12 20-oz Coronas), a lot of catching up, and a little bit of DH-fueled baseball. It went quickly, as games with scoring in only three frames tend to go. But it was a fun time--and a nice reminder of how Dodger fans are fortunate.

Oh yeah, and upon leaving, I did get a coupon for a free 2-liter bottle of Pepsi upon exiting the stadium. That's good. The coupon is only redeemable at Lucky, none of which are down here in SoCal. That's bad.

Too bad there wasn't a coupon for Mini Sirloin Burgers. Sigh.


Fred's Brim said...

I have been to a few Oakland games over the years and always had a decent experience there. This was during the late 80s heyday so the fans were there, plus Mount Davis hadn't been built - they had the Clorox Bleechers where the roughnecks sat. The upper deck, on a summer afternoon, might be one of the hottest places in baseball. I've never sat in the pavilion at Dodger Stadium or been to a Marlins game, but the sunburn factor at Oakland is through the roof!

QuadSevens said...

Great recap of the non-Dodger baseball experience. Funny that the tickets were super cheap, but the beer and parking are the same price as at Dodger Stadium.

Steve Sax said...

ticket revenue is subject to revenue sharing, but concession sales aren't, correct?

Xeifrank said...

I didn't know they had a team in Oakland.

Bryan said...

i live in LA, but i go to school in Norcal, and i went to an A's game this past wednesday for the $2 ticket, $1 hot dog deal. Line was too long to go more than once for hot dogs, ended up only eating one, and all the condiments were out except ketchup. One of the guys in my group ate 8 hot dogs, so i guess he got a good deal. Even with the cheap tickets, it was really empty. the $2 sections were fairly full, but i was facing the plate and all the sections behind it were empty. The outside of the stadium is blank and boring, just grey concrete, no real decorations besides a few banners. made me miss dodger stadium. Going back home after graduating, and first thing i'm doing is going to a game. Bought tickets two days ago. Free parking =)