Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Hello, Old Friends

Welcome back to my blog and my first post of the 2011 Oakland A’s baseball season. It sure has been a while! This time of year is one of the most special in the cycle of the Major League Baseball calendar: Spring Training when the future looks bright. Hey, at this point in the season, anything and everything is possible! 

Matsui at Spring TrainingBut back to Spring Training. I started this blog one year ago during my very first Cactus League experience. I loved interviewing the players and learning the ins and outs of Phoenix and Scottsdale. This year was no different, but yet better… There was an unmistakable buzz in the air, a feeling of hope and confidence. After talking to the players and hearing their excitement, I fully believe that 2011 is the year for the green and gold.

Here’s my collection of player photographs taken last week (February 21 – 25, 2011) while I and the rest of the Diamond Vision crew interviewed them at Spring Training. Enjoy!

Balfour 

Grant Balfour, #50
Right Handed Pitcher

If you get a chance, definitely chat with Grant so you can hear his fabulous Australian accent. Just hope he doesn’t drop any profanity on you! But despite his rep on the mound, this guy is polite and friendly. Did I mention that accent?

Suzuki at Spring TrainingKurt Suzuki, #8
Catcher

Kurt made a lot of changes this off-season. He lost the puka shells, grew a beard (or scruff, I should say) and made a baby! His wife, Renee, will deliver their baby girl sometime this Spring. Congrats, Kurt!

Kouzmanoff at Spring Training
Kevin Kouzmanoff, #5
Third Base

It’s always a delight to spend time with Kevin. He’s low-key, thoughtful and not afraid to reveal his off-the-field persona. The hardest sport he has ever tried? Diving. That’s right, Kouz splashed around in a speedo! 

Coco Crisp at Spring Training

Coco Crisp, #4
Center Field

Coco was so not in the mood to spend 20 minutes with the Diamond Vision crew. It was the end of the day and he was exhausted. But as soon as this guy stepped in front of the camera, a switch was flipped and Coco the performer emerged. We have never laughed so hard or had our jaws drop so many times… Unfortunately, the subject matter is off-limits and not exactly, shall we say, family friendly. Oh Coco…

Cahill at Spring Training

Trevor Cahill, #53
Right Handed Pitcher

Trevor is always shy, sweet and professional. Hard to believe he was competing for the fifth starter spot at 2010’s Spring Training! I think it’s safe to say he’s a shoo-in this year! 

David DeJesus at Spring Training

David DeJesus, #12
Right Field

David is a loyal guy, having spent his entire career with the Kansas City Royals. But during our interview, he was quick to praise the A’s chemistry and easy-going-attitudes in the clubhouse, remarking that he’s never experienced that before. Oh yeah, that and a winning season.

Ziegler at Spring Training

Brad Ziegler, #31
Right Handed Pitcher

Brad is the consummate professional: always courteous, cooperative and friendly. He’s also really bright and has a lot of interesting passions outside of baseball. After starting his Pastimes for Patriots foundation last year, he visited the troops in the Middle East this off-season. But I’m pretty sure he didn’t visit a submarine…he just throws them! 

Willingham at Spring Training

Josh Willingham, #16
Left Field

Josh is a true ‘Bama boy, as in an Alabama boy! He lives there in the off-season with his wife and two young sons, Ryder and Rhett. When this guy is not playing baseball, he says you can find him huntin’ and fishin.’ Welcome to the team, Josh!

Fuentes.JPGBrian Fuentes, #57
Left Handed Pitcher

Brian Fuentes has a demanding job. And that wouldn’t be a relief pitcher. More like taking care of his four children under the age of four! This Merced, California native is psyched to return to Northern California and start playing ball to get a break from the exhausting workouts at home!

Gio at Spring Training

Gio Gonzalez, #47
Left Handed Pitcher

Gio may corner the A’s market on goofiness, silliness and good times. We couldn’t have kicked this guy out from the interview room, if we had tried! From stories to laugh fests to truly thoughtful answers, it’s clear why Gio is a fan favorite. 

Count It: Seven Home Games Left

Karen, the A's super fan #2
Time is running out. Fans, our Oakland Athletics 2010 season is winding down…

Starting today, Monday September 20, the A’s begin their final 7-game homestand with three games against the Chicago White Sox, followed by four games against the division-leading Texas Rangers.

I’ve said this now for a month, but fans, it’s time to stop procrastinating and putting off your visit to the Coliseum. With only seven home games left, the time is now to show your green an gold pride!

Here’s a short collection of photos from the last month, showing off some of our Super Fans at the ballpark…

Cute A's fansT-shirt Dan

A berth in the playoffs would be nearly impossible for the A’s to achieve at this point in the season, but that doesn’t mean the 2010 campaign has been a disappointment. We’ve seen an impressive showing from all five, improbably young pitchers in our starting rotation and some great hitting and base-stealing efforts from the lineup. Also, let’s not forget how the 2009 season ended and how far we’ve come. Last year, we finished last in the division, 22 games behind the division-leading Angels.

David's attempted catchDavid, the superfan #2

This fan, David, in the two photos above comes to every game as if the team is playing for a playoff berth. A serious A’s follower, he’s always decked out in green and gold, his special, superstitious pants, and of course, his glove to catch homerun balls. In the photo to the right, you can see David diving for one of Coco Crisp’s long balls. Awesome enthusiasm! The crummy part is that he didn’t even get the ball!! Better luck next time, David.

So fans, I hope to see you at the Coliseum this week. Let’s send our team off for the final roadtrip with love and support from our fan base. And hey, you never know…we’re only nine games back!!

One of Baseball’s Greats

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Kara and the Law familyOne of the
highlights of the last homestand was a special visit from Vern Law, a pitcher
for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1950-1967. Law lives in Utah but was in the Bay
Area for special church events and outings, including the ballgame on Thursday
night. During the third inning, I had the lucky opportunity to chat with him,
his son Vance, also a Major League ballplayer who played for the A’s for a
season, and his grandson, Andrew.


Vern Law's baseball card

During Law’s
career, he was twice named to All-Star teams, a Cy Young Award winner and a
1960 World Series champion. Any baseball historian will tell you that the 1960
series between the Pirates and the Yankees is one of the most famous in the
sport’s history. It’s the only time a World Series has been won on a walk-off
home run in the bottom of the 9th inning in game seven. Imagine the
drama, the thrill!

As a
starting pitcher, Law pitched in games one, four and seven of the series. When
I chatted with him on Diamond Vision, he told me that he liked to rib the
series’ hero, Bill Mazeroski, the walk-off run hitter, that if he hadn’t been
pulled as the pitcher earlier in the game, there would have been no need for
his heroics. Of course, he’s only kidding. In my brief interaction with him,
Law came across as kind, humble and a true gentleman. Someone who represents the game with dignity.

 

Richard with Vern Law's autograph

My story
could end there. After all, it’s not every day that the Coliseum hosts one of
baseball’s greats. However, what made that Thursday night truly memorable in my
mind was connecting a lifelong admirer of Vern Law’s and the man himself. After
I finished my interview with him, Richard, a longtime season ticket holder and
serious baseball historian, stopped me and asked if he was dreaming. Was that really THE Vern Law sitting in the Oakland Coliseum?!?


Vern Law's autographVern Law signing autographs













You see,
Richard grew up in Pittsburgh, rooting for the Pirates. Vern Law was one of his
favorite players, and he was lucky enough to watch him throw in game seven of
that 1960 World Series.
In fact, on Richard’s drive to the Oakland Coliseum
last Thursday, he was listening to the old play-by-play radio recording of that
famous game. It was such an eerie coincidence that Law happened to be sharing
air space in the stadium that very same night. When I interviewed Richard on
Diamond Vision in the eighth inning, he was still trembling from meeting one of
his childhood heroes and marveling at his good fortune to connect with a
baseball legend. In Richard’s words, “magic really does happen here in Oakland.”

Three Homestands, Twenty-Three Games to Go…

Kara, fans and StomperIt’s really hard to believe, but the 2010 season is starting to wind down. I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but I’m just wondering how the last four and a half months disappeared so quickly?!? To me, Spring Training feels like last week. And Dallas Braden’s perfect game could have been yesterday.

So here are the facts, fans: starting today, Monday, August 16, there are only three more homestands and twenty-three more home games left in the 2010 campaign. We’ve only got about a quarter of the season to go, and you know it’s going to go by in a green and gold blur!

SuperfansFans with Suzuki sign

Because of this sad news, I urge you and your friends and family to make these next few homestands count! I know summertime is busy with vacations, camp,
parties and the like, but procrastinators, it’s time to start making
A’s baseball a priority. Click here to visit the A’s website so you can pick up your tickets today!

Fans celebrate 11th birthdayCute fans in matching tie-dye

In my opinion, there are a lot of factors that have made this season zip by (at least in comparison to last year). For starters, the team has been playing well and we all know it’s a lot more fun to watch a winning team. Instead of dreading upcoming series, we’ve been looking forward to them, thus the schedule appears to fly by.

Thumbnail image for Kara, Dan and his "Kara" t-shirtAlso, it doesn’t take a meteorologist to tell you that this summer has been positively Arctic. Where are those bright, sunny days and warm evenings? It’s been feeling a lot more like earlier May than mid-August. Yet another reason why it’s hard to believe the season is coming to a close.

So fans, get out your green and gold, make those homemade signs and come on out to the Coliseum for the remaining days of A’s baseball in 2010. I can’t wait to see you there!

Big Expectations

Chris Carter

All of a sudden, with the call up of Chris Carter before Monday’s game vs. the Seattle Mariners, the final 51 games of the season are starting to look a lot brighter.

Rationally, I know that might not make total sense. How can one rookie make that much of a difference? And to be fair, the starting pitching staff and regular A’s lineup has been looking pretty sharp recently. Case in point, taking 2 out of 3 in the last series against the AL West leading Rangers. But there’s still something about the addition of the Carter that has everyone buzzing…

For starters, there’s the hype. You just look at this guy’s numbers, from both his bio and his on-field performance, and it’s hard not to be impressed. 6’5″ and 230 pounds with 27 home runs in just four months in Sacramento. It’s pretty common knowledge the A’s need some pop in their lineup, and hopefully, this guy can lend his strength and contribute.

I had the chance to meet Carter during Spring Training. Initially, it was tough to coax out detailed answers from our curious questions, but his shy smile won us (the Diamond Vision crew) over. Once we post that interview, I’ll be sure to link to it here.

Fans, what do you think? Excited the Chris Carter wait is over? Wish Billy Beane had called him up earlier? Or maybe it doesn’t make much difference to you one way or another?

From Big to Small, They All Had a Ball

Dog Day 2010 #7

The A’s wrapped up a fantastic homestand yesterday, beating the Sox off the boys from both Boston and Chicago. We began both series with losses and then came from behind twice to win the next two consecutive games. Great pitching and awesome bursts of hitting!

Sadly, one of the losses had to come vs. Chicago on Friday night, Dog Day with the A’s. With a final score of 1-5, the action on the field wasn’t nearly as interesting as the fans we had sitting in the Plaza Reserved section of the outfield.

If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Facebook and Twitter, you know that I had very much been looking forward to this event for the entire season and that it ranks up there in my Top 5 games of the season. Despite the loss, I can happily say that the 2010 Dog Day didn’t disappoint!!

Dog Day 2010 #5Dog Day 2010 #2Dog Day 2010 #6The event began in the Northeast parking lot with a costume contest and mingling session (basically, a chance for the pups — all 600 of them! — to meet each other and get a feel for the craziness ahead). As a judge for the contest, I helped award Enzo, the “Poochador” (above left) win for “Best Overall Dog.” Very deserved.

Dog Day 2010 #3Dog Day 2010 #4Dog Day 2010 #18
The pre-game festivities also gave the dogs a chance to sniff out the biggest animal in attendance: Stomper. I’d say it was 50-50 for dogs who responded well to him and those who didn’t. Luckily, my parents’ dog, Lucy, was mellow enough to pose for a family photo with the big fellow! I can only imagine what was running through her mind…

Dog Day 2010 #1After the pre-game contest, dogs and their owners got the chance to parade around the Coliseum field. This photo to the left is one of my favorite of the night as it represents such unbridled doggie instinct to roll around on that pristine field! Such a happy time!

Dog Day 2010 #17

From a dog’s perspective, the only good thing about a low-scoring game and a loss meant the nine innings flew by so fast on Friday night. Those 54 outs officially clocked in at 2 hours, 16 minutes. For me and my Diamond Vision crew, that meant we had to run around in warp speed, trying to capture all the dogs and their costumes on camera.

Dog Day 2010 #11

Most of the fans I spoke with agreed that Dog Day could be held every month during the season and no one would tire of it. I couldn’t agree more. The event is so novel, so entertaining and such a fantastic combination of people’s passions: baseball and their pets. What do you think, Avoderm Natural? Want to sponsor another one?!?

Dog Day 2010 #8Dog Day 2010 #13Dog Day 2010 #9Thank you to all the fans and their four-legged friends who helped make another Dog Day with the A’s so memorable. When you get your schedule for the 2011 Oakland Athletics season and start planning your summer, be sure to save Dog Day on your calendar. Win or lose, it’s going to be another not-to-be-missed game!

Dog Day 2010 #15Dog Day 2010 #14

Photo credit (for just about all of the photos I’m in): My mother and o
wner of Lucy Tsuboi, the cutest and sweetest Springer Spaniel around. She didn’t seem to mind wearing the A’s shirt, but the cap was another story… Fans, if you’ve got Dog Day photos to share, send then to me and maybe I’ll use them in my blog post next year! Email: kara@oaklandathletics.com

Dog Day 2010 #10Dog Day 2010 #12

Dog Days of Summer

Dog Day 2009 #1

Get ready A’s fans for one of the most entertaining games of the year: Dog Day at the Coliseum. This Friday, July 23, the A’s welcome their fans of the four-legged variety to enjoy an evening of pre-game fun, the chance to socialize with their fellow canines and of course, great baseball on the field.

But fans, don’t delay buying your tickets!! You have until Monday to purchase your seats for you and your pet. Click this link to be redirected to the A’s ticketing page.

As an animal lover, Dog Day is easily one of my favorite games of the year. The event kicks off with a pre-game costume contest that is beyond adorable. One of the most memorable from last year was a pup dressed in fishing gear, pretending to be his version of a “Catfish Hunter.” Cute, clever and A’s related.

Dog Day 2009 #5After the contest, it’s on to the pup parade, where dogs and their owners get to circle the warning track. So many smells! So many new friends in meet! Once the game starts, I spend every inning break with the dogs in the Plaza Reserved section (the second deck in the outfield, above the bleachers). It’s endlessly entertaining to visit with the dogs of all breeds and sizes, trying to find the most unusual or the best tricks to show on camera. It also puts a smile on my face to hear the bark of the dogs in a quiet lull during the game; definitely a different noise in the typical soundtrack of a baseball game!

Here’s a schedule of events for the not-to-be-missed 2010 Dog Day, Friday, July 23:

5:30 – 6:15   Pre-Game “Pup Rally”
6:20 – 6:35   Pup Parade on the field
7:05             Dogs take their seats, A’s take the field

Dog Day 2009 #3Dog Day 2009 #4Dog Day 2009 #2

Oh — and to answer a question I get a lot, YES, the Coliseum does hire extra help on Dog Day to keep the stands and field pristine…if you know what I mean.

Starring You: the A’s Number One Fan

Moneyball CoverSince we’re taking a small break from baseball, I’m going to use this time to chat up my latest baseball-related obsession: Moneyball, the movie.

Yes, that’s the book about how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane built a winning team in the early 2000s based on numbers…the statistics kind, not the dollar sign kind.

And yes, that’s the movie based on Michael Lewis’ book that will start filming at the Oakland Coliseum later this month. The best part? You can play…yourself!! The A’s number one fan!

The easiest way to sign up to be a “Moneyball” extra is to go through this website: www.beinamovie.com. You can also try calling their hotline from 10AM – 4PM PST for more information: (818) 985-8811. Since the movie is trying to recreate the A’s 20-game win streak in 2002, shooting times are late at night. Really late. For example, 10:30PM to 5:30AM. Hopefully the free snacks and hopes of Brad Pitt sightings will make a long night go faster.

Moneyball, the movieSo about that Mr. Pitt… He’s slated to play Billy Beane and rumor has it, has attended several A’s games over the last month to do research on the team, the stadium and the overall vibe of the organization. No word on Angelina sightings… Also cast is Philip Seymour Hoffman to play manager Art Howe and Jonah Hill to play Paul DePodesta, Billy Beane’s assistant.

The castings that really took me by surprise, however, are Scott Hatteberg (photo below left) and David Justice (photo below right) playing themselves. And why shouldn’t they?! Both were definitely stars of that 2002 team.

Scott HattebergDavid Justice in Moneyball

In my opinion, all of the raw elements are here for a great movie: a great book for inspiration, talented actors, and just an overall, feel-good story about an under-appreciated team. Come on out and join the fun…and let’s hope the experience adds up to a positive public relations campaign for the A’s. See you there!

If They’re Going to Beat the Pants Off Us…

…they might as well be A’s pants

Kara and Carrie and A's jeansA's jeans pocket detail

Yeah, yeah, we got our butts kicked by the team in pinstripes. A sweep, no less. It stinks.

But hey, if they’re going to beat the pants off us, we might as well be wearing some cute pants…and let that be a segue for promoting the coolest jeans in baseball: the A’s jeans. I wear mine every homestand because they are so comfortable and so awesome. And every time I do, fans ask where I got them…

Well, here’s the scoop:

Alyssa Milano (of “Who’s the Boss” fame) designed these jeans for the A’s and other MLB teams (she had a thing for ballplayers, if you’re not up to date on who’s who of players’ girlfriends). Anyway, she did a great job. They’re comfortable, durable and have the A’s insignia on both rear pockets and on the mini fifth pocket on the front right.

Here’s the best part: they’re still for sale and they only cost $30. I know, amazing deal!!! You can find them at the team’s “Value Stand” behind the Left Field Bleachers. And while you’re there, be sure to check out all the other great A’s merchandise on deep discount.

A's Value Stand #3A's Value Stand #1

Top left photo credit: Francis, a long-time, diehard fan and husband to
Carrie, the gal in the photo with me. She’s the one who found the jeans
first and tipped me off to them last season. Thanks again, Carrie!

Goodbye Bronx Bombers

Tonight’s game marks the last visit the Yankees will make to the Coliseum during the 2010 season, and I think most A’s fans will agree with me when I say that I’m not sad to see them (and their fans) leave. In the five games played in Oakland so far this season, we’re 1-4. A win tonight from Gio Gonzalez and the rest of the boys will help the team avoid the sweep and put us in a better position to face our division rivals, the Angels, this weekend.

"Stick it A-Rod" signThe A’s fan presence in the Coliseum over the last two nights has been a bit bleak. It’s common knowledge that when the Yanks (or BoSox) come to town, their West Coast fans come out in droves. This season has been no different. Here and there, however, you will find some examples of Oakland A’s fan awesomeness. Case in point, Jeff and Kris channeling Grandma Braden and their homemade A-Rod sign above. And below, some diehard fans and their elephant ears and Quintona (aka “Wiggi”) showing off her true green and gold love.

Elephant EarsQuintona "Wiggy" the super fan

I wish the boys on the field the best of luck tonight. Please, please, please, let’s not give the (occasionally obnoxious) Yankee fans the satisfaction of a sweep. And A’s fans, I want to feel your presence tonight. Get loud and let’s show our team some support! And thank goodness the two teams don’t meet again until the end of the summer…

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