There is a certain charm to attending a baseball game in a cavernous stadium with few fans filling the seats. The fan experience at the Coliseum is hurt when there are too many people jamming the concourses and moving up and down the aisles. Sure the Burrito District, one of my favorites, was closed for tonight's announced crowd of 12,054, but Saag's was there with a Bratwurst ready for me. No waiting!
It's Green Seat Appreciation Night here at the o dot co pic.twitter.com/X4sKvVtrWE— Jeremy F. Koo (@jfkooAN) September 1, 2015
Poor David Rinetti and his grounds crew. Most of them have probably been up for 24 hours getting the field into playable shape after the Oakland Raiders played Sunday night, and now they're forced to scramble to fix the left field wall.
It may as well have been a scene out of Major League II:
That wasn't the only scene from the beloved Major League movie franchise. With the stadium nearly emptied out in the ninth inning, the left field bleachers were happy to give a one row wave a go. It went something like this:
Unlike Major League and its sequel, there won't be a happy ending for this Athletics season, but it was a perfectly fine way to end this lengthy affair.
Heckling is said to be a practically inalienable right of the fan. Don't swear, don't be lewd, and you're generally in the right. My experience Monday night, however, gives me pause as to how long a heckler should be permitted to repeat himself.
I found myself a section over from the fellow who took it upon himself, from our perch down the third base line, to repeatedly heckle Angels rookie third baseman Kaleb Cowart. An excellent method of heckling is to pressure one of the weak cogs of the team, in this case a light-hitting rookie. However, this fellow fan seemed to lack the creative acumen to sustain his verbal assault upon Cowart, calling him a "bum" in the sort of obnoxious throat-destroying yell that should make an ordinary human being hoarse and unable to verbalize to his fellow human beings within three innings. "KALEB! HEY KALEB! KAAAAAALEB! YOU'RE A BUM!"
This was no ordinary human being, however. His oral attack extended to third base coach Gary DiSarcina as he repeatedly called upon Gary to ask his best hitters to bunt. He did so by yelling, "HEY GARY! HEY GARY! PUT ON THE BUNT SIGN GARY! CALHOUN/TROUT/PUJOLS/CRON'S GOT NOTHING GARY! GARY!" Repeat for each batter named.
To the credit of A's Guest Services, the concerns of several fans (I did not lodge a complaint) were forwarded to our ceaseless haranguer, but there was little it seemed they felt they could do if our fan was not swearing or using words beyond the pale. This was high quantity, annoying heckling.
If you're going to heckle the whole game, a degree of creativity is required for the sake of your fellow fan. Even if this unending stream of "YOU'RE A BUM"s induced Kaleb Cowart's error, it was an unpleasant way to sit through a game.
Billy Butler's double TOOTBLAN in the bottom of the sixth made my blood completely boil. As Nico put it succinctly in the game thread, "He managed to go back to 3B when he was forced to go home and then try to go home when he was entitled to stay at 3B. Honestly, I'm surprised he didn't decide he should run across the diamond from 3B directly to 1B."
I just wanted to throw and kick everything I could, yelling "NO, NOOOOOOOOOO." So I did. I threw my cap into an empty row behind me and kicked my nearly finished soda and just yelling this primal scream of frustration and anger. It was as if I had witnessed Miguel Tejada complain about interference all the way into an out and Derek Jeter throw out Jeremy Giambi (disputed) all wrapped up into one play.
Butler reacted like Kaleb Cowart had caught a line drive, but that made no sense because Butler is plainly looking at home plate when Burns hits the ball:
Maybe he forgot the bases were loaded until he realized Reddick was forced out at third base, at which point he remembered that the bases had been loaded and realized he should have been running already, but forgot to make the next step that there was no longer a force.
Of course, then there's the question of why on earth Kaleb Cowart went to third base in the first place when the usual play is to attempt a 5-2-3 double play, getting all the outs on forces. I think Cowart must have realized he would have time to get Butler into a rundown at worst and had intended to try a 5-2 double play, expecting Butler to go on contact.
Cowart must have been surprised when Butler returned to third, and the sudden change of plan from throwing home to trying to throw out Billy Burns at first could have caused Cowart to throw wide.
But for Cowart's wide throw to first, it would have been a triple play, and the A's would not have tacked on three in the sixth on Mark Canha's home run.
In all, my fellow fans took the various delays with good humor. The left field fence collapse does count as an official delay in the box score, meaning the time of the game was "only" 3:34 plus a 10 minute delay.
There were a lot of good hits, of course, but I was actually rather impressed with how deep they worked counts against Hector Santiago, even as they struck out in the first couple of innings.
Mark Canha's home run was great and it makes me hopeful that the recent streak of great players wearing #20 continues (Donaldson, Street, Mulder).
There's still a good time to be had at the Coliseum.