So I woke up yesterday morning after a restless night, due largely to the amount of adrenaline coursing through my body after Friday night's win, and spent the entire morning disguised as a TicketMaster agent, running from parking lot to parking lot, to the Bart ramp, to the left field bleachers to connect ANers from NorCal to SoCal with tickets to upcoming games. Special thanks to Longtimefan, jeepers, and gigglingone, who made sure I could actually attend this weekend's games, for which I've mostly given up all pretense of being a normal person, and am now wearing the 'crazy A's fan' label proudly.
After the disappointing game yesterday (unless you're a John Lackey fan, and try as I might, I couldn't hear the 'John Lackey's my baby daddy' chants too clearly, although perhaps I was not sitting in the right section), some of us headed down to the recording of the Extra Innings show. I had the eighty 'Frank Thomas for MVP' signs which I managed to procure for my SoCal ANers in tow, a gesture which in retrospect is not helping my case for being a normal, non-crazy person.
Robert Buan, who wanted to make sure he was noticed and mentioned on AN (Hi, Robert!), was running through his usual post-game spiel, and it must be said; no one handles the crazy callers quite like that man. He was wonderfully personable, and really seems to enjoy the A's, but I'm sad to report that he was upstaged on his own show as far as I was concerned yesterday. During the early part of the show, I remember turning my head slightly as someone came through the door right next to me, and I'm told that I may have audibly gasped when I realized who it was. Oh, okay, I did audibly gasp, and for good reason: It took him until Game 154, but Milton Bradley finally walked into my life.
As he was signing my shirt (the sleeve, baseballdad!), I told him that there is a fan base called Athletics Nation, and that it was no secret to anyone there that he is my favorite player. I expect to be served the restraining order anytime, but in the meantime, I got to hear about Milton's passion for the game of baseball, his charity work with underprivileged youth, and his work with the homeless. He was charming, sincere, and very positive about Oakland, throwing out a 'Yeah, the Oakland fans are okay, too' with just the right amount of 'I love you guys' subtext.
Later that night, to add on to an already-banner weekend, I continued my 'Visiting A's Fan Circle Tour of Oakland' and went from Extra Innings to Marty Lurie's show, where I met Lurie, Shooty Babitt, Bruce Magowan, and Vince Cotroneo. Good news, our announcers are fully aware of the ANers in Anaheim next weekend, and will look for the card stunt. On a personal note, there is nothing like being in love with a team where people working for it genuinely seem to care about the success and direction of the organization. I've watched the Baltimore and Kansas City fan meltdowns this year with much sympathy; for whatever faults the A's may have, at least they consistently field a competitive team.
And one pervasive opinion from some great baseball minds: The 2006 Athletics are not reminiscent of anything we've seen in our recent fandom; they of the 'Chokeland' fame and first-round playoff exits. They might not be the best team based on raw talent, but they have something extra that simply cannot be ignored. Lurie said it best, "Milton Bradley and Frank Thomas may be able to do what a young and inexperienced Chavez and Tejada simply could not."
With those words in mind, the A's need to take the final step towards the postseason, and end their weekend with a clinching win at home. Home Game #81 starts at 1:00 PM, and it should prove to be a doozy. One more practice playoff game to go, and we can have a week of low-stress A's baseball before we see them dance for real.
Haren vs. Santana (not Cy, but Ervin)
Your 2006 Oakland Athletics
LET'S GO OAK-LAND!!!!