In baseball’s National League Championship Series, the San Francisco Giants are attempting to reclaim the World Series crown they won two years ago. The defending champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, stand in their way.
Across the Bay from the Giants’ sparkling ballpark, another team made the playoffs this year.
Back in early June the last thing an A’s fan would have expected to hear as the year wound down was, “Swing and a miss! He struck him out! And the Oakland Athletics are going to the postseason! Un-be-lievable!”
The A’s turned a mediocre spring into a summer of conquest. Their roster of unknowns, re-treads, and rookies ended the regular season by sweeping past the Texas Rangers to steal the American League West Division title.
And then: on to the playoffs.
But before we continue with that feel-good story, a word about Oakland, the A’s, and Bay Area baseball.
The A’s owner, developer Lew Wolff, is determined to take the team to San Jose, build a new stadium, and sell luxury boxes to the Silicon Valley super rich.
So a lot of A’s fans aren’t crazy about Lew Wolff.
There’s little love lost for the Giants, either, who seem to have everything the Athletics don’t: a beautiful waterfront stadium, a sell-out every game, and money to go out and buy top-level talent.
Something else the Giants have: the territorial rights to Wolff’s coveted new home in San Jose. So far, they’ve blocked the move.
So for now, Oakland fans and Wolff are stuck with each other in a historic but hideously remodeled ballpark that ranks near the bottom of the major leagues in attendance.
But all that seemed to change as the A’s made the playoffs, and came home to play the Detroit Tigers on October 9.
The Oakland Coliseum was packed and loud.
But even then, lots of customers were unhappy with management. With fans begging for tickets, the team left 10,000 upper-deck seats covered with tarps and off-limits. The A’s explained they wanted to maintain an “intimate” feeling at the game. For fans, it was just another sign that the organization doesn’t care about them.
“They probably wouldn’t sell it out and it would look weird,” said Brad from Santa Cruz. “But I agree, that’s a pretty lame reason. Let’s let the people watch some baseball, know what I mean?”
“It’s completely insane,” said Essence Harden. “I understand that during the normal season there might not be enough to fill up those seats. But this game sold out almost immediately, and the idea of having those tarps out there still is completely horrible to the tons and tons of A’s fans that would love to have seats right now. I think Lew Wolff hates us so much. I don’t know why.”
A’s management did relent, announcing it would open the upper-deck seats for the league championship and World Series.
That was before the A’s ran into Jason Verlander in the deciding game of their divisional series matchup with the Tigers. He pitched a shutout and it turned out the tarps could stay on all winter. Some fans complained Wolff had jinxed the team by finally agreeing to open the upper deck.
But the fans and the surprising team they had come out to cheer had a final moment together.
As the Tigers celebrated on the infield, the Coliseum crowd gave the Athletics one last ovation while singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”