Long time readers of this blog know that my girlfriend and I make the hellish, bumper to bumper trip down the I-5 to Anaheim once or twice a year when the Athletics come to town. Since I live in Los Angeles, it’s difficult for me to make it to the Coliseum; and the “Big A” or whatever the hell they call it these days is my only opportunity of the year to see the “good guys” up close and personal. A’s fans in past years seemingly turn out en masse, and this game was proven to be no different. The day started out on a high note as I met 3 time world series winner John “Blue Moon” Odom in the parking lot. He and his wife were charming and cordial. He got a kick out of it when I told him that announcers Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse always show him in the crowd and give him a little air time whenever the A’s play the Angels on television. (He lives in Southern California, so like me he only gets to see the A’s when they come to town twice a season.) I got an autograph and a photo, and after thanking him and shaking his hand, I noticed he was wearing a World Series ring. There is no doubt in my mind that those Oakland A’s teams from 1972, 73 and 74 were some of the greatest teams of all time!
Right away I had a bit of a problem with the Oakland lineup. The A’s were facing a left-hander in Hector Santiago, and their 8/9 hitters were both lefties, each of which were batting .100 and .080, respectively. With Nick Punto batting in front of Reddick and Barton in the 7 spot, we were essentially GIVING AWAY 3 outs. Jesse Chavez gave up an RBI single and a homer to Albert Pujols, (his 496th) which were all the scoring the Angels did as they were shut down in the last 6 innings. Hector “who the fuck is this guy” Santiago had a shutout going until Oakland cut the lead in half with a Yoenis Cespedes solo shot in the 4th. The game resumed and Angels fans were being their typical, boring selves. There was absolutely ZERO passion. They remained in a zombie like state until they started to do “the wave” in the 6th inning; completely ignoring the fact that the A’s were threatening to tie the game with runners on. Oakland fans were out numbered 3,000-1 and were undoubtedly louder and more into the outcome of the game.
The game was essentially dominated by the bullpens until the 9th. Whipping boy/super scrub Jim Johnson shut down the Halos in the 8th; and then this happened with a runner on and 1 out in the 9th:
The entire stadium deflated. The smug, “we all but have this in the bag” quietness turned into disbelief, verbal disappointment and booing. It was one of the MOST WONDERFUL moments I have EVER experienced at a ballpark. I was beaming as Oakland fans high- fived each other on the way out of the stadium. We had proven who the KINGS OF THE WEST were once again.
Don’t count Jim Johnson out — he has his rough moments (and they always seem to bunch up together to magnify things), but, as an Orioles’ fan, I know he’ll do all right by you. The best course of action is to position all your infielders as close to second as possible to grab those “up the middle” balls, and you’ll be fine. Hoping for good things for Sean Doolittle, too (he’s a University of Virginia alum, and we get to most of their games, so we always cheer for him, too).
The Oakland fan base has been tough on Jim Johnson. I also have a problem with him being the highest paid player because I think the “save” is one of the most overrated statistics in sports. We’ve since gone to a closer by committee with Doolittle and Gregerson, and I’m fine with that. Doolitle is awesome and definitely a fan favorite. (Strange,as I type this…last night Doolittle blew the save and Johnson picked up the win with 2 shutout innings. What a weird, wonderful game.)
Gary, you are one ugly dude. Just kidding. What a freaking day at the park you had! Blue Moon Odom and his fart cushion and you with the A’s cap and black flag scissors. You guys coulda knocked over those palm trees and started a riot. Nice win for the A’s. Isn’t every stadium filled with zombies performing the wave? It’s been way to freaking long since I been to a game.
You’re right Steve, the pictures did come out a little bit funky. I almost didn’t want to post them and then I thought…fuck it.
It’s sad that the Expos left Montreal….now you’re up shit creek without a paddle. I couldn’t care less about the Nationals either. Is there a minor league team remotely close to you? It may sound strange, but sometimes I prefer minor league games.
OH! It’s also funny that you mentioned a riot…Odom was quite the brawler in those World Series days. (as they all were, except for Dick Green) best known for his knock down drag out with Rollie Fingers. To make this story even WEIRDER, I met Rollie Fingers on a rainy day at a liquor store in Davis, Ca. a few years back. He was signing bottles of his own wine. Strange, indeed.
Hell no. Those pictures are funky for all the right reason. Keep em coming. There used to be teams in Ottawa, Quebec City and Three Rivers, but that’s going a back a few years. There’s still 4 amateur teams in Montreal, costs about 5 bucks to enter, but other than that, it’s baseball tv land.
Meeting Rollie Fingers at a liquor store. Now there’s a title for a post. You’re right. It can’t get any weirder or better than Fingers signing bottles of his own wine on a rainy day or maybe Bill Lee across the street in a bus cabin; signing marijuana brownie mix boxes.