Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Opening Day in Oakland
Last night, the Red Sox and A's opened their North American season at McAfee Coliseum, after two games in Tokyo. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched masterfully for the World Champs (6 2/3 in, 1 ER, 9 K). It was a close, well-played game, with a couple of controversial calls: Suzuki misses Youkilis with a sweep tag at the plate, and Varitek misses a home run on a called Ground Rule Double. We had a clear view of the Varitek shot, which clearly bounced off the top of the grey scoreboard roof, never coming close to the yellow "in play" line; a very bad call.
Was very happy to be able to use the occasion of Opening Day to celebrate our re-location from Boston to the East Bay. And I was extra happy to share the event with so of my many friends and family that made the move possible. Particularly fun was seeing my nephew Matthew and his friend Ronnie laughing, hanging on the railing, and moaning "Yoo-ooo-ook" out the suite window; Matthew in his Big Papi jersey, and Ronnie in his Derek Jeter jersey. The red "34" and the white-on-blue "2" looking back at us seemed almost irreconcilable, with Ronnie's Dad describing the scene as something like, "a sign that world peace is possible".
Felt really bad for my nephew David, who flew from DC to San Fran to see the game. I may not have this exactly right, but somehow his flight got delayed then stuck in Charlotte. He got on another plane to Philly, and onto another flight to SFO, but that plane didn't have enough fuel to make it from coast to coast (?), so he landed in KC to refuel. After about eight hours of delays, he arrived at McAfee at the end of the 6th inning, and the usher could not direct him to our box. We did not see him until the game was over. How does that happen?
However, I must say that the venue was otherwise pretty darned acceptable. Going to watch a baseball game in a facility that is also used for football gave me dark memories of going to Three Rivers in Pittsburgh; never liked that place. From the outside, you certainly get that feeling of "concrete monstrosity", but on the inside, the seating and the views were pretty good, if a little distant. Foul territory was expansive (like having two more outfields), and I never liked having the bullpens "in the field of play".
The As fans were enthusiastic, if nearly overwhelmed by the Red Sox crowd. Chants of "Let's Go Red Sox" mashed into an unintelligible static of "Let's Go Oak-Sox", "Let's Go Red-land", each side trying to shout down the other. The Opening Day ceremonies were brief but appropriate, with a sort of mini-fireworks display set up in the outfield and a fly-over by the Blue Angels. Sometime in the fifth or sixth inning, the Scoreboard lit up with Tarzan movie clips in an apparent attempt to get the crowd to make enough "jungle yelling" noise that the elephant mascot Stomper (?) would appear. It felt strangely like a minor league promotion, and I never did see the elephant.