Monday, April 13, 2009


Numbskull Event Planners Overshadow Depressing Sweep

This weekend promised to be a great one for baseball. Beautiful weather, Easter baseball, Giants in San Diego, and the A's home opener, the latter of which I was enthusiastic about attending. It was the first opener, of any kind, I've ever been to. It's nominally a fun time. The house is full and loud, the atmosphere is great, people are excited about their team and the new season. It's a recipe for a timeless baseball experience, am I wrong?

Well, there would be no baseball enjoyment on this day. None of any kind. Some moron (or group of morons) decided it would be a good idea to schedule the A's opener on the same night as a Warrior game. Two teams, two arenas, one parking lot. You get where this is going. I know Draconian punishments are deemed unconstitutional, but I'm tempted to lobby for an exception in dealing with whoever was responsible for this mess. The sheer magnitude of the stupidity would seem to merit a caning of some sort.

Our group didn't leave Sacramento until like 5:30, which was our bad, but we had work so what are you going to do? By the time we hit Oakland and the exit to the stadium, it was past first pitch and we were smack in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Most of the people filing in at that point were Warriors fans, which further illustrated the absurdity of the situation. Some people decided to cut their losses and park in a nearby hotel or restaurant and walk. As we sat idle two miles from the Coliseum, loud obscenities emanated from our vehicle that would make Quentin Tarantino blush.

By the time the cars finally started moving, the parking lots were full, so we figured our last saving grace would be the nearby BART station. Nope. That was completely full. So we scanned the nearby streets, looking for parking spots in the kinds of neighborhoods you don't want to be lurking around as nighttime falls. We finally found a space, my friend nearly wrecked his back bumper when his back tire fell into a ditch, and there we were, in a horrible neighborhood with a ten minute walk ahead of us.

It became immediately apparent, as angry and terrified of being mugged as we were, that sobriety in this situation was definitely not the best policy. So we grabbed all the beers we could fit in two hands and proceeded to guzzle them as fast as we could on our walk to the stadium. As we finished off bottle after bottle, our anger slowly abated with increasing intoxication. It's amazing how, in the heat of the moment, deviant behavior provides an adequate antiseptic to the rage felt when being shafted at a sporting event.

We finally got to the stadium in the sixth inning, right in time to watch the A's strand the bases loaded (for the second time in the game, as it turned out). They would go on to lose to a Mariners team that had very few recognizable players. Highlights of our short time in the stadium included when I repeatedly pointed out how fat Ken Griffey Jr. looked in person, the notorious banjo-playing A's fan roaming into our section, and a two-inning save by none other than our old friend David Aardsma (I still regard the trade that sent him and Jerome Williams to the Cubs as one of the stupidest and most pointless of Brian Sabean's tenure).

We hung around for a bit after the game to let the traffic subside, and when everyone had left, that was when the extent of the devastation became apparent. Mounds of trash had been piled up in large plots of the parking lot, taking up entire spaces. Beer bottles were stacked in pyramids, oceans of wrapper blew lazily in the breeze. Someone left an entire grill in the parking lot. I want to hear the story behind that.

This wasn't just neglect; people actually made a concerted effort to be slovenly. Not only did they not give a shit, they made a display of it. I mean, trash had been piled up and sculpted into little castles for the world to see. It made me embarrassed to be a sports fan. At least as we were on our beer-swilling rampage leading into the stadium, we were depositing our bottles in the proper receptacles. Even as belligerent as we were, we still had respect for Mother Earth, for heaven's sake.

We finally made it home in the wee hours of the morning and none of us were happy. It was the worst ordeal I've ever gone through attending a baseball game, and I've been to Beanie Baby day! I thought nothing could top driving through LA traffic to get to an Angels game, but I was completely wrong. I mean, come on, anyone with half a brain should realize what a disaster this was going to be. They couldn't have delayed the Warrior game until Saturday night? It was a debacle, a damn shame.

So that was the worst part of the night, but the cherry on top was looking over at the scoreboard and seeing that Barry Zito had had a typical Zito-nain performance, not lasting past the fourth inning, and the Giants couldn't scratch back against the immortal Shawn Hill. Zito's line isn't terrible, and he didn't walk everybody in sight, a feature that characterizes most of his flameouts, so it's not the most discouraging thing in the world. Still, it's the Padres, in PETCO, no less.

The next night, Jonathan Sanchez started off like Sandy Koufax, then ran afoul of Henry Blanco-twice-and fell apart. I don't blame him; surrendering two bombs to Henry Blanco is bound to break anyone's concentration. With this start, Sanchez just continued what he did so often last year: mix flashes of awesome, Cy Young potential with game-killing bouts of wildness. It's one start, but it'd be nice if he'd get these control problems ironed out. Walking the pitcher to set up a rally just isn't going to do it.

Then yesterday it really got ugly. Tim Lincecum, who I figured would be the saving grace of the series, was sadly much like the aforementioned BART station. He started off well enough before running into control problems of his own, and he lost all of his command after the second inning. Of course, his defense did him no favors, as the normally reliable Fred Lewis flubbed two fly balls that led to runs. Eugenio Velez (starting in center field) also flubbed a single later on in the game which led to a run (again, why do people think this guy is an outfielder?) Once again, it's early. Depressing, but early, so please don't start mashing the panic button with your fist.

Still, I wonder when The Whispers will start. You know what I'm talking about. There are pitch count nazis out there just waiting for Lincecum to crack, so they can parade out into the streets waving their "I told you so" banners around, screaming that his poor performance is a result of being overworked last year. I'm not saying his '08 workload has anything to do with anything, but beware the murmurs getting louder if Timmy doesn't get it together his next time out.

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