Category: Sports Page 1 of 3

The unavoidable consequences of deliberate sabotage

I couldn’t believe it when I heard it this morning, though I knew somewhere deep down it’d been coming for a long time. The A’s are leaving Oakland.

I left Oakland, too, but this isn’t the same at all. During my 17 years in the Bay Area (10 of those in Oakland), those of you who know me know that I loved going to A’s games despite the Coliseum. I was a season ticket holder from 2005 to about 2019 (aside from one or two of the lean years, when it made more sense to get cheap first or second row tix on StubHub and we weren’t saving our spot to get playoff tickets at face value). During that time we saw scrappy teams expertly assembled by the magician Billy Beane, and ran into familiar people we saw all the time – vendors, pickup baseball buddies, fellow season ticket holders.

My last game at the Coliseum was the last playoff game played there, maybe ever. The current version of the A’s is a shadow of what it once was, and that’s because of the systematic disrespect the current owners (and Manfred) have shown the people of the East Bay. They deserve better.

I had really held out hope that Howard Terminal would happen. I guess I’ve been in denial. The writing has been on the wall probably since Cisco Field didn’t happen in 2006. We A’s fans thought reluctantly at the time, “better Fremont than far away.” Oh, well.

Bob Melvin knew what he was doing when he went to greener pastures after the 2021 season. This day was always going to come sooner or later once John Fisher bought the team. RIP Oakland Athletics — you were great once.

Of course, I post this the same day we get more bad climate news.

What do these two stories have in common? Maybe this is a stretch, but when elites deliberately act in their own interest at the expense of—I don’t know—the little people, they kill what we love. Baseball teams, species, entire ways of life.

Three games in two days, the third being perfect

I would be remiss to fail to write about this: On Sunday, I personally witnessed the 19th perfect game ever pitched in the 135 years of Major League Baseball history. It was phenomenal.

I was one of about 12,000 people who were privileged to be there when Dallas Braden, starting pitcher for the Oakland A’s, faced 27 Tampa Bay Rays and retired them all in succession, while the A’s offense delivered more than enough to win. (What a way to rebut the total lack of respect he got from Alex “A-Fraud” Rodriguez in just the last couple weeks.)

This after seeing the A’s win on Saturday, and then riding with Scott and Chris to Sacramento, where we saw the A’s AAA affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, absolutely demolish the Colorado Sky Sox, 16-5. (And that following an awesome Crisis Hopkins show Friday night.)

What a weekend.

ornamental divider

More about the perfect game: I didn’t notice that Braden was pitching a no-hitter (much less a perfect game) until the friendly fellow A’s fan next to me mentioned it in the 6th. I was marginally annoyed that he would fly in the face of superstition so boldly (you don’t mention the no-hitter before it’s over!) but it did color my experience of the next three innings.

Someone else’s Packers adventure in Madison, circa 1997

I’ve had this page open in a tab for a couple of weeks now and want to get rid of it, so I’m blogging it for posterity (and because it’s amusing, at least to me).

In 1997, the Packers played a preseason game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. (I lived there at the time, but this story has nothing to do with me.) Turns out one guy went to the stadium just to see if he could sneak in, after having heard of people sneaking into the Super Bowl.

Well, he made it, and the rest of the story is pretty funny. Check out Scott Schiller’s Packers Adventure.

Ben Sheets’ good luck charm?

Ben Sheets in 2001 and 2010 If I were superstitious, I’d think I was good luck for Ben Sheets — at least when he’s new to a Major League Baseball franchise.

I attended his first win in an Oakland A’s uniform tonight — a relatively tidy 6-2 defeat of the sad, sad Baltimore Orioles.

What I had completely forgotten until now was that, just less than 9 years ago, I was at the game in which he got his first win as a Milwaukee Brewer (and, incidentally, in his major league career).

The A’s and the Brewers are the only major league teams for whom Sheets has played. A bit of a strange coincidence, nothing more. Something to remark upon that still seems just shy of remarkable.

Geoff Jenkins also hit three home runs in that game in Milwaukee on April 28, 2001, which also marked the first time I went to Miller Park (in its inaugural season). I still have the cap I bought that day. It’s pretty nasty by now, though.

Brett Favre is a Viking. Huh.

You may know I’m originally from Wisconsin. Being a native cheesehead (I’ve reclaimed the term), I am pretty much genetically required to be a Packer fan.

So, naturally, I find it interesting that Brett Favre, Green Bay legend, signed with one of the Packers’ main rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, today. This after retiring twice and waffling about it for what seems like the last four or five years.

I’m guessing it’ll probably work out for the Vikings about as well as it worked out for the Jets last year. [They narrowly missed the playoffs after he performed increasingly poorly as the year went on, because he was playing through injury.] Maybe worse. I don’t see the soon-to-be-40-year-old Favre lasting 10 weeks, much less 17. How prepared are the Vikings’ backup quarterbacks going to be when Favre inevitably goes down?

Despite his signing with the despised Vikes, I still have some admiration left for Favre, for what he did in a Packers uniform and his fool-headed stubborn competitiveness. If you were an NFL quarterback — a certain Hall of Famer — and you still thought you could play, wouldn’t you do pretty much the same thing? There are only 32 starting jobs for NFL QBs. What else is he going to do? There are only so many laps he can do on his riding lawnmower in Kiln, Mississippi. I don’t think he’s going to quit until he gets carried off the field on a stretcher.

Yes, he’s a diva, he’s indecisive, he’s selfish, he’s not even really that smart. Oh, well, he’s human. I know a lot of people are pretty upset, but ultimately, I’ll still applaud him when he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Packer.

Baseball is supposed to be fun

Today was truly the most depressing day (and night) of being a baseball fan I have ever experienced.

When I made my customary lazy, relaxed visit to to check out the game stories this morning, I was shocked and saddened to find out that a 22-year-old guy (whose last significant public experience was to shut out my favorite AL team for 6 innings last night) died in a car accident, from which the driver at fault tried to run away. Then I learned some dude in Anaheim got killed in a fight at Angel Stadium opening day after getting punched in the back of the head and falling onto concrete steps. And tonight, after a Giant pitched a ball to the Brewers’ Mike Cameron, Cameron hit it directly back at the pitcher’s head, striking it and making it bleed profusely. Apparently, the Giants’ player is okay. [2021 update: He’s better than okay!]

All this during the first week of the season.

Baseball is supposed to be fun — an escape from everyday life. But once in a while, like anything else we humans do (whether pointlessly or not), it reminds us that we shouldn’t take life for granted. We shouldn’t assume the next week, the next day, or even the next moment are going to come. It didn’t for Nick Adenhart. It won’t for Brian Powers. Joe Martinez, thankfully, gets another shot.

And now I will go to the A’s home opener at the Oakland/Alameda County Coliseum on Friday with far different emotions than I would have expected just 24 hours ago.

Sure, I’ll get caught up in the game, and I’ll enjoy myself. But I won’t be able to avoid heavy thoughts before that first pitch.

A’s Crosby no “comeback” candidate

Despite Oakland A’s third baseman Eric Chavez’s attempt to support his teammate, “come back” and “have a great year” do NOT belong in the same sentence when it comes to Bobby Crosby.

Other than hitting 22 homers in his Rookie of the Year season, Crosby has never put up numbers anything better than pedestrian. So how can he “come back” if he basically hasn’t done anything?

Assuming he stays on the active roster, he’ll continue to hear the awesome derisive cheer my friend Nick W. has honed at a couple of dozen games during the last season or two.

Of course, Chavvy has every reason to be optimistic about his teammate’s chances of having a good year, because he himself is due for a big year. Both of these guys have been injured multiple times.

But, hey — these guys are on my adoptive home team, the A’s. I want them to do well. I just don’t think the chances are that great.

Yes, I am writing about baseball. Spring training has started. My World Baseball Classic semi-final and final ticket strips (to be held in Los Angeles in March) were delivered to my apartment today. And 27 A’s games (to which I have a ticket) aren’t far behind.

As many times as I’ve considered stopping following pro sports, I haven’t and probably won’t anytime soon. Going to baseball games relaxes me, and sports serves as one of the great social lubricants of our time. So – take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd. And so on.

I also sent in some money and “joined” Uni Watch today. Yes, I’m a dork.

[This is another in my new and, I hope, long-lived series of “if it rates a comment on another site, then it surely rates a blog entry” posts.]

Important ALCS on TBS question

Why does Buck Martinez sound like a bicycle horn?

The Brewers are in the playoffs!

Nothing profound to say about it, but my hometown baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, are in the playoffs for the first time since I was seven years old! They’ve been so close before, but they finally did it! Awesome.

Pratfalls are funny

Sometimes bad things happen to good athletes: What didn’t make it to the Olympics.

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