Editor's Note: this post is part of the Front Page Auditions Series
It was April 3, 2013, and my wife had just asked me a simple question, "What would you like to do for your birthday tomorrow?" Little did I know how my answer to that question would change my family over the next six months. And really, beyond.
"Maybe we could go to a baseball game," I answered. Now this was a totally selfish thing on my part, but hey, it was my birthday, and I certainly wasn't going to suggest that we stay home and watch "Pride and Prejudice." You see, I'm the only male in my house. A wife, two daughters, a female Shih-Tzu/Lhasa Apso mix...and me. And to say that they aren't sports fans is an understatement. And to say that I am a sports fan is also an understatement.
But I thought I'd give it a shot. So, I looked on Craigslist and just happened to find a guy selling 4 tickets in section 120, six rows behind the A's dugout, for the April 4 game with the Mariners. I called him up and he still had the tickets. At 9:30 pm that night, I picked them up and the next day we headed to the A's afternoon game with the Mariners.
Now I thought that this would be a one-time thing. Not on my part, but primarily because I really didn't see my wife and daughters enduring more than one baseball game. Myself, I've been a baseball fan my entire life. Growing up in Southern California, I was an Angels fan (sorry, it'll be slegnA from now on). Definitely not a Dodgers fan. In fact, 1988, the year I graduated from college, was a bad baseball season for me, because I had to endure watching the Dodgers and the always irritating Tommy Lasorda, upset the A's in the World Series. But now, having relocated to Northern California in 2010, I had begun to become more interested in and knowledgeable of the A's and Giants. I was particularly drawn to the A's, however, because of the movie "Moneyball," and because I liked rooting for the low-budget underdog.
But on my wife and daughters' part, I didn't see them having a long-term rooting interest in baseball in general or the A's in particular. Not that they hated baseball up until now. They were just indifferent to it. Little did I know.
After that first game, an 8-2 win by the A's, we bought tickets (from the same guy) to a game about 3 weeks later. And then, more tickets a week after that. By the end of the regular season, we had gone to 26 games. We also bought jerseys (2 for me, 2 for my wife, and 2 for each of my daughters). And that wasn't all. There were also hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and bumper stickers. We went all in. We even got rid of Dish Network and went with Directv, for the sole purpose of watching A's games on TV.
And of course, it was another memorable season for the A's, as they captured their second straight AL West title. But it was also memorable for us as a family: We had a couple of baseballs thrown to us (Thanks, Stephen Vogt and Ty Waller), went to 2 fireworks games, got 2 Coco Crisp bobbleheads, got to see rude Red Sox fans in person, and so much more. Most of all, we were able to see some great baseball and root for the A's with a great group of down-to-earth fans around us.
The season didn't end as we had hoped, of course. A second straight ouster by the Tigers stinks, but going to game 1 of the ALDS was a lot of fun, especially the sheer noise of the crowd after Cespedes' home run.
What will 2014 bring? It's tough to say, since baseball is such a fickle sport. I love some of the moves made by Billy Beane in the off-season. Great pick-up in getting Jim Johnson (Balfour was a little too nerve-wracking for my taste). Love the trade of Seth Smith for Luke Gregerson (with a better bullpen last year, the series with Detroit would have been over in 4 games). I also like the addition of Craig Gentry (Chris Young was awful last year, Michael Choice probably wasn't going to contribute much this season, and the A's are in win-now mode).
On the other hand, I'm not as excited about Scott Kazmir. I have the feeling he's going to be injury-prone, and that he won't provide the consistency that Bartolo Colon did. The loss of Jarrod Parker could also prove troublesome, as Parker rebounded from a horrible start to 2013 to have a very consistent season. The temporary loss of A.J. Griffin? Doesn't concern me, since I consider both Jesse Chavez and Tommy Milone to be as good, or better, than Griffin.
But whatever 2014 brings for the A's, the four of us are now die-hard A's fans. We've even purchased partial season tickets, and so plan on being at 25-30 games this season. Will it be a third straight AL West title? Time will tell. But one thing is for certain: This family is ready for another season of Green Collar baseball.