April 2010

The Team Prankster

Kara and Dallas BradenIn a little less than an hour, the Oakland Athletics will be up to bat at Tropicana Field for game two against the Rays. Taking the mound in the bottom of the 1st will be Dallas Braden, the A’s stud pitcher with a 3-0 record and a now widely publicized spat with A-Rod distinguishing his 2010 season.

During Spring Training, I had the opportunity to chat with Dallas for a few minutes about his off-season, his attitude for the new season and most importantly, his pranks on teammates. Check out this video to get an idea of who this man is off the field.

In my one full season with the A’s, I’ve had a few run-ins with Dallas. In fact, I’ve even been the victim of one of his pranks! No, my cell phone was not taped to Stomper or anything crazy like that… It was a subtle, sly retaliation for something I did to him last season. Really, a story for another blog post…

Enjoy the video, and more importantly, enjoy Braden’s start against the Rays. It’ll be obvious that when this man takes the mound, he’s not joking around!

Highlights from the Homestand

The longest homestand of the season (10 games in 11 days) has come to a
close, but I’m proud to say that our boys in green and gold survived it
and maintained their win streak. That’s right, we’re still perched
atop the American League West with an overall record of 12-8. Great
job, guys!

From an in-game host and fan perspective, these long
homestands can be exhausting! During this one in particular, we had
rain threats, a few tough, short-turn-arounds (night games followed by
day games) and the dreaded New York Yankees in the opposing lineup. On a
positive note, we had some great giveaways and a solid fan turnout.

There
were a lot of great moments to capture, but here are a few photos of
our super-fans. Wear your green and gold (in the most creative ways
possible!) and you’re bound to get your mug snapped. Hey, you might
just end up on my blog!!

Thumbnail image for Oakland A's wrestlersThumbnail image for Fans and the Herd

These two teenagers in the lucha libre
masks are some of my favorite fans to run into, game after game. In this
particular photo, I challenged them to pose for Diamond Vision in order
to rally the crowd in the middle of the 8th inning of a Yankees game.
Don’t worry, they were rewarded nicely with tickets to an Indians’
game! In the photo on the right, the Herd and I ran into these
well-dressed fans from Fremont during the Indians series. What a great
idea for a double date!

Thumbnail image for Fan in purple wigKara and fan

Wigs: love them. Cheers to our fan from Reno in the purple wig and sweet Karen, a long-time A’s fan with a green and gold wardrobe to die for. Love the enthusiasm, fans!!

Lady A's fans and their crocheted flowersAnd speaking of creative head gear, I absolutely adore these lady A’s fans and their darling crocheted flower accessories. The gal on the right has the nimble fingers and has whipped up a whole bouquet for friends and other fans over the years. What a great seasonal and feminine touch to bring the ballpark!

Kara and Moo Moo EvansThese next photos represent some favorite memories of mine from the homestand. Moo Moo Evans from the Harlem Globetrotters was in attendance to throw out the first pitch (which he did while spinning the basketball on one finger in the other hand!) and to promote his team’s upcoming games in the Bay Area. Not only was he super sweet and great with kids, but while I was interviewing him live on Diamond Vision, he put the spinning ball atop my finger. I’m so not a basketball player, but this was a cool sensation! I love how this picture captures the spinning ball and my excitement! Thanks, Moo Moo!

Kara and Little LeaguersWe ended the homestand with our first Little League day of the year. Any event that brings out our younger A’s fans is a favorite with me. I love the energy, enthusiasm and pure noise they bring to the Coliseum. During that game, I was in charge of kicking off the 7th inning stretch, so decided to recruit some kids to help me out. 3 kids quickly turned to 30, and before I knew it, I was mobbed. One little boy even asked if he could sit in my lap to get a better view! (I said yes!)

Finally, I’ll end this blog entry with a shot from Sunday’s spectacular win against the Indians (11-0). It’s hard to believe, but over the three days playing the guys from Cleveland, we outscored them 22-6. Hopefully those kinds of numbers will give the team some momentum to take on the Rays and Blue Jays while they’re on the road. Fans, can’t wait to see you in the stands for the next homestand!

Oakland A's celebrate a win 

Keeping Score

Walk around the Coliseum during any given game and you’ll likely see a couple dozen fans keeping score. They’ve got their score-keeping notebooks on their laps, headphones on to listen to the radio broadcast and a keen eye for plays, errors and the minutiae of the game.

Why do they do it? The answers vary… I’ve heard everything from “it’s a habit” to “it keeps me focused on the game” to “it’s a nice souvenir to remember the day” to “it makes watching a baseball game a little less boring.” I personally have never tried it. I don’t think I sit down for long enough periods of time or am able to pay enough attention on a consistent basis. Maybe after I “retire” from the hosting job!

Long-time A’s fan, Michael Leslie, recently dug through his parents’ boxes of old score-keeping notebooks and found a particularly cool card from the A’s 1986 season: his very first A’s game at the Coliseum when the team happened to be playing the Baltimore Orioles! He scanned it and emailed it me as a neat piece of fan memorabilia.

Michael's 1986 ScorecardMichael’s parents, Richard and Kathy, have been longtime A’s season ticket holders who fastidiously kept score at every single game. If you look closely at this card from August 31, 1986, you’ll see that both Jose Canseco (his rookie year) and Carnie Lansford hit homeruns for the A’s and that Cal Ripken Jr. was in the starting lineup for the Orioles.

I asked Michael what he remembers from that particular game and nothing specific came to mind, but he adds, “I almost want to think you could smoke in the Coliseum.” 1986? Probably. He does remember especially likely the Orioles that season since that was his Little League team and idolizing Ripken Jr.  

Thanks to the Leslie family for sharing this cool piece of their A’s history with us. And let’s hope for a repeat of that 1986 game today, our 4th and final against Baltimore. An A’s 7-0 win over the Orioles sure would be nice! Let’s Go Oakland!

A Great Day to be an A’s Fan!

There are two truths about the Oakland A’s right now:

1.) The games are NEVER boring
2.) You can NEVER underestimate the team in the bottom of the 9th

We saw both of these factors at play in today’s exciting game against the Baltimore Orioles. What a fantastic win for the team: a dramatic, walk-off finish, their 3rd win in row, a win in the series over the Orioles and a great showing for A’s longtime broadcaster, Roy Steele.

Going into Game 3 against the men from Baltimore, we knew it’d be a special one for the sheer fact that today was Roy Steele’s day at the ballpark. He’s been the team’s broadcaster since the A’s arrived in Oakland back in 1968. If you’ve been to any game since, you can hear why John Miller complimented Roy as having the “Voice of God.” The nickname has stuck around and so has Roy, earning himself the first ever bobblehead for a PA Announcer. Quite a distinction!

Roy Steel Bobblehead #1Roy Steel Bobblehead #2

Roy kicked off the game by throwing out the first pitch to Chester Farrow, a long-time friend and fellow employee in Diamond Vision. From then on out, he and Dick Callahan announced the rest of the game. The A’s sure are fortunate to have two dynamite voices backing them up!

Roy’s presence must have brought the team some luck, as they pulled from behind and eeked out a fantastic win in the bottom of the 9th. Go Ryan Sweeney! Seven home games, three walk-off wins!

Coming tomorrow, a really cool piece of fan memorabilia… And finally, one last picture of Stomper and Finn, a young A’s fan enjoying the beautiful day game and another special win from the Oakland A’s!

Finn, the fan and Stomper

10 Games, 11 Days… Here We Go Oakland!

Fans, tonight kicks off a long homestand, and we need you at the Coliseum to rally on our boys in green and gold. The A’s return from the road with a 6-4 record, and while they’re still hanging on to 1st place in the AL West, it’d be nice to cushion our lead.

We kick off the 4-game Baltimore Orioles series tonight with an awesome giveaway: the “Sluggie.” Yup, these are those cheesy things you see advertised on late-night TV, but this one looks somewhat more stylish with the A’s motif scattered about. I had my misgivings when trying the thing on, but I have to say, it sure was warm and comfortable! And if you’re not totally digging the open-back, hospital gown style, it can still be used as a large blanket.

Be sure to be one of the first 10,000 fans through the gates tonight and you’ll receive your very own fleece Sluggie. Check out these photos from a promotional video shoot with Stomper and the Herd and note how easily Stomper fits into his Sluggie!

See you at the game tonight, fans. And then again next week for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. Let’s Go Oakland!

Sluggie 1Sluggie 2

Sluggie 3Sluggie 4

Off to a Great Start

Drummerboy with A's table

As the A’s travel south to Anaheim to take on the Angels, they leave
with a 3-1 record, 1st place in the AL West and lots of momentum. From
the fan perspective, we couldn’t be happier!!

Monday’s
Opening Night started off strong. There was serious tailgating action
in the Coliseum parking lot where the excitement for new season was
palpable. After all, we fans had waited 6 long months for this day to
arrive! I visited a few pregame parties, including the one in the
picture to the right, hosted by the fans in the bleachers. That’s Andy,
aka Drummerboy from the right field bleachers showing off his
impressive, homemade beer pong table. It’s a seriously awesome display
of Oakland A’s love!

Amongst the Coliseum staff, we too were
giddy with anticipation, looking forward to another season working
together in the marathon that is 81 home games. To celebrate the day, I
baked some decadent Salted Peanut Brownies, decorated with our colors, green and yellow M&M’s. It’s a fantastic, crowd-pleasing recipe — perfect for hungry fans!

Kara's Opening Night treatsOpening
Night’s final score (5-3 Mariners) was more than a tad upsetting. You
want to win your home opener in front of a packed house to kick off the
season in a positive direction. When we fell short to the boys from Seattle by a
couple of runs, there was a palpable disappointment in the stands.
Opening Night

Regardless,
there were a lot of other great elements of the night to be
proud of. For starters, Stomper looked fantastic!! He was all suited up
in a snazzy, custom-made tuxedo. Wherever he went that night, he set
the tone of a Championship team — it’s truly amazing what kind of
impact he has without saying a word!

Furthermore, that same fan enthusiasm we saw in the parking
lot pregame, we saw in the stands. The fans on the right were part of a
group of a dozen or so friends who all show up to A’s games wearing
crazy, green and gold, zebra striped pants. Love it! Thanks to you guys
from Santa Rosa for keeping it fun! And true fans will of course
recognize the fellow in the picture on the right: Banjo Man! I don’t
know the inside scoop, but he sure doesn’t seem to show up at as many
games as he used to, so his presence was even more appreciated on
Opening Night.Stomper in a tuxFans in crazy pantsBanjo Man

Finally.

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is upon us: OPENING DAY!  Despite the gloomy Bay Area weather and head-scratching roster moves, there are a lot of reasons to be excited for tonight’s season opener vs. the Seattle Mariners, and in fact, the entire 2010 season. Here’s what I’m most looking forward to:

  • A healthy team. How great to have Chavy back in the lineup and Duke on the mound?! Of course, the Coco Crisp and Michael Wuertz injury news is disappointing, but we’ve got to expect and anticipate hiccups like these along the way.
  • New fan favorites. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jake Fox and Adam Rosales to name a few…
  • Fresh, young talent. After watching Chris Carter and Michael Taylor at Spring Training, I’m optimistic for what’s coming down the pipeline. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing these two in the Coliseum before the All Star break.
  • FANS. It’s people like you who make the A’s fan experience as special as it is. From our die-hard, 81-gamers to our youngins’ out to see Stomper, it’s you the team is playing for and you who makes my job so meaningful.

And speaking of fans, here are 2 pictures I snapped at Saturday’s game vs. the Giants that just make me smile! It’s going to be a great season everyone — I can’t wait to spend it with you at the Oakland Coliseum!

Fans on BBQ terrace

Cute fan with Stomper

In 24 hours from now…

Coliseum

…serious A’s fans will be gathering at the Coliseum for the first time in 2010, but for the last game of the 2010 Spring Training season. Can’t wait to see everyone after a loooong off-season!

I was at the Coliseum earlier this week to meet with the folks from Diamond Vision and couldn’t help but snap this photo of our pristine, gorgeous field. The Oakland A’s grounds crew is one of the finest in the league, but the field never looks better than now, before it’s even been played on. Here are some other photos from the Coliseum to show off where they placed Rickey Henderson’s retired #24 and one of the other banners at the stadium. See you tomorrow, fans!

Henderson.jpg
houseofhustle.jpg

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