I was watching a game a couple of weeks ago and it started to hit me. Dallas Braden said “he hit that out to the canal” outside, in reference to a towering home run by some player whose name escapes me.
Canal? Does anybody call it the canal? To me and my friends, it’s always been the Coliseum Moat. That disgusting, filthy, pungent industrial mess of a creek that no one would mistake as “waterfront” of any kind, except maybe the odd duck that thought it was a good idea to hang out there. As I laughed about the Moat, a depression started to set in, like a heavy marine layer on a cool Coliseum night.
Until then I had been able to do the mental gymnastics needed to fool myself that this was a normal season. The A’s have been damn good, and the games have been fun and entertaining and it felt like baseball again. When Braden referenced the “canal,” the memories started flowing and my bubble quickly burst.
One of the best things about baseball is going to the game, the forced relaxation of it all, how even a game with tons of activity leaves even more room to hang out and let conversations veer wherever they want to go. At a baseball game, you can avoid both paying attention and missing any action. This year, and this season, is developing into a stark reminder of how good we really had it, and for me personally, how much the 20 some-odd games a year were a part of my life.
I miss everything about the Coliseum ... the good, the bad and the ugly.
I miss the drummers. The recordings can fool you for a bit, but I also miss the vuvuzelas which are noticeably absent in the artificial crowd.
I miss paying next to nothing and sitting wherever I wanted.
I miss yelling “LET’S GO OAKLAND” and slamming the empty seat back in front of me, to make the claps louder.
I miss the dude yelling “PIZZAAAA” and Hal the hot dog guy.
I miss bringing my kids to games, and them yelling at me to SEE STOMPER! I even miss wasting 2 innings getting ice cream helmets for them.
I miss escaping to games without my kids, and going with friends or even by myself.
I miss bringing people to a game that have never been to one before.
I miss cheering on a kid making his major league debut.
I miss the tailgates. And that scene in the parking lot.
I miss sprawling out across a row, or a section, on a chilly Monday night, drinking a cold one and not returning emails for a few hours.
I miss packing in with a big crowd, and knowing exactly which concessions stands I can hit to avoid that same crowd.
I miss stuffing myself with unhealthy food and even worse drinks (at half price though)!
I miss peeing in troughs.
I miss throwing parties in the suites.
I miss heckling the opposition.
I miss hi-fiving strangers as the Holy Toledo sign flashes.
I miss the locked up tension and raucous energy of the crowd in a tight, critical game.
I miss the laid back hilarity of the crowd in a ho-hum blowout loss.
I miss the ritual walk across the barbed wire BART bridge.
I miss the ticket scalpers and the $5 shirts and the “CAPS AND BEANIES!” outside.
And I even miss that stanky-ass Coliseum Moat.