Friday, September 13, 2013
July 18- Oakland Athletics
Two-and-a-half months of staring at a television; day-in and day-out, watching EVERY Major League Baseball game during that stretch. Sounds easy, right? Well, imagine doing that with the same eight people for all of those days. Then try to imagine that a few of those people will “befriend” you and backstab you until you’re sent home. Not going to lie, I had a lot of really amazing moments during my time in the MLB Fan Cave, but none of it compared to when I took to the road and started catching games in person. I idea of being a celebrity never appealed to me, not so much as just relaxing in the sun, drinking a beer and talking shop in every town or city that houses a professional baseball team. Yesterday I touched on my first game at the Coliseum in Oakland since being let go from the Fan Cave. No matter how many games I went to prior or after, the game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics on July 17, 2012 is by far the most memorable.
I picked this Athletics cap up through the Lids Web site well before I ventured to New York; however, I did it under the guise that the Athletics had worn it some time during the 1970s. Not too long after I got it the mail I realized I had made an egregious error. I suppose it was an easy mistake to make. After all, the Athletics wore a variety of uniforms throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but the hat was the same no matter what they wore; this one to be exact. Outside of the Pittsburgh Pirates there has yet to be another team to wear a cap with yellow panels, so as far as a collection perspective I decided to hang onto it. Plus, I think it looks pretty cool.
I think during my time in New York I may have worn it once, twice at the most due to the fact that I flip-flopped between the home and road caps regularly. When the time came for me to hit the road I found that my habit of not wearing the cap stayed pretty much the same. I wore it once during Game 2 of the Super Regional’s between the University of Oregon Ducks and the Kent State Golden Flashes, which ended with a Ducks victory.
And I also wore it up in Seattle for the second game in the Athletics series at Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners which I caught with 2013 Fan Cave hopeful Tom Bentley (@RealTomBentley) on the first leg of my Major League Baseball tour.
The old school Vida Blue jersey really tied the outfit together. Actually, from what I recall this photo came from the Athletics Tumblr page. But alas, I just never felt compelled to put it on at any other point in time.
When the time came for me to hit the road down south I ended up packing it along with the home cap which I ended up getting a lot of mileage out of all last year. The Athletics had arranged to have me throw out the ceremonial first pitch on July 18th which I ended up writing about on April 1st along with my home cap. I had gotten to the Bay Area a few days prior as I was meeting up with some friends of mine and taking them to a San Francisco Giants game on July 16th. Yes, I realize I betrayed some of you for writing that; however, my friends as Giants fans and I was treating them to the game for being so kind as to give me a place to crash while I was in town. Even though the tickets I bought were ridiculously priced, it was still cheaper than paying for one night in a decent hotel. Anyway, July 17th… Everyone in the right field bleachers knew I was coming to the game on the 18th, but I made sure not to tell a soul about going to the first game of the series. So… decked out in some jeans, my grey “Swingin’ A’s” shirt and this yellow Athletics cap I sojourned across the Bay Bridge all the way to my home away from home, the Coliseum. I arrived a little bit early as I had a 40 ouncer of Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor to put down before going inside, but I’ll admit that it was a little bit sad to crush that all by myself as to not blow my cover. With a slight buzz and stumble in my step, I walked up to the ticket kiosk at the base of the team store, made my purchase and found my way to section 149 in right field.
Prior to my visit to the Coliseum I had been spotted by a few fans and players at the other eight MLB stadiums I went to who had recognized me from the Fan Cave. What I didn’t expect was that almost every single person walking from one side of the stadium to the other knew who I was. Having been kept away from the outside world for so long, you tend to lose touch with everything else that’s going on around you. Namely I really didn’t know how well most Athletics fans knew about the Fan Cave, let alone who the hell I am besides the regular folks I talk to on Twitter. That day I shook hands, took photos with and swapped stories with dozens of fans who only knew me as “Shakabrodie.” As flattering as the experience was there is also something to be said about how unusual it is to be known by your twitter handle as opposed to your real name. This little bit still continues to this day, which I guess goes to show just how influential a fake name can be.
When I finally approached section 149 my heart was racing. In some weird way all of these people I had befriended online were turning into some weird blind date. Yah we always talked about the Athletics, and we always swapped videos and shoutouts back and forth to one another, but who knows how well actually meeting in person was going to work out? After all, I’m pretty sure from the moment that I was selected to go to the Fan Cave every single one of them was thinking, “Who the hell is Benjamin Christensen?” Due to the sun setting behind third base I was blinded as I walked through the tunnel and down to the seats. I had my video recorder rolling on my phone, but I was too blinded to actually see what I was capturing. Not to sound arrogant, but for a moment I thought I was going to get some kind of ovation; however, I was more than relieved with the “Hey Ben” reaction that I got from everyone. It honestly felt like I had known everybody in the crowd all my life. Yes there were some handshakes, hugs and “great to finally meet you’s,” but overall it was just another game.
Everyone who had a question about my time, I answered. Anyone who wanted a photo, I took. Anytime we tried to get inside Nelson Cruz’s head, we failed. Sadly that night the Rangers won by the final score of 6-1, but we didn’t let that spoil any of our fun. Before we all retreated out to the parking lot for more beers and chatter I had this photo taken.
Most of you might recognize this photo from my Twitter profile. I could have swapped the photo up to something more current, especially in beard length, but I have yet to come up with a valid reason to. I like this photo too much. It tells more of a story than just me at a game; it tells the story of where I’d like to be when all the troubles of the world are falling down upon me. When I got let go from my dream job I never wanted to be anywhere else but the Coliseum. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart I can’t thank the Athletics, my supporters and especially my friends out in right field enough for your friendship and making me feel like I’m part of the gang. Everything I have ever done to promote or support the Athletics has all been done with y’all in mind:
Anson (@AnsonCasanares), Will (@RFWill149), Tony (@TonyTwo_Tone), Ross (@roscoe), Omar Gonzalez (@OmarInTheOF), Omar G (@omar01), Dennis (@Denny149), Quintona (@Wiggi_Marley), Drew (@DrewMartin6), Justin (@the_toots), James (@EastBay_Sports), Erica (@MissOakland), Taylor (@Taylorfernandez), Ralliney (@Ralliney), Andy (@RFDrummer149), Kara (@Karashotcorner), Spencer (@OakFoSho), Amanda (CheerBabyGrl410), Jorge (@Jorgeleon17), Charlie (@CharliesTheorys), Jennifer (@KiddoYoung), Adam (@ItsOpeningDay), Vanessa (@vdemske), Matt (@Norcalbowler), Sam (@Samligosky), Jess (@JessBeNotorious), Alex (@AlexEspinosaIV), Casey (@CaseyPrattCSN), Tyler (@RF_BLCHRS_No34), Bridgett (@Bridgett_Haney), Chris (@MrChris80), Kevin (@kjmendez3), Michael (@Dehlman1), Tom (@PandaYeung), Sniff (@Sniff009), Eddie (@Eddie_S510), Liza (@HilmLiza_) and everyone else who I may have forgotten. I did this all off of memory as best as I could. Thank you all very much.
72-73-74: Due to the fact that I had originally thought that this was a cap worn in the 1970s I marked it up as so. If there’s one thing that frustrates me most about being an Athletics fan is that the franchise is never really given its due. The forgotten dynasty, as it has been called, is all you really need to know. The Athletics won three consecutive World Series titles from 1972-1974, merely five years after then-owner Charlie Finely moved the team from Kansas City to Oakland. This of course was also after he bought the team from Arnold Johnson in 1960 after Johnson had bough the franchise in 1954 and moved them to Kansas City.
Prior to 1972 the Athletics had won five World Series titles during their time in Philadelphia; however, the last one came in 1930. In 1971 and 1975 the Athletics made but lost in the American League Championship Series, losing to the Baltimore Orioles the first time and the Boston Red Sox the second. In order the Athletics took out the Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds would go on to win it in 1975, the Mets had won just four years prior in 1969 and the Dodgers would go on to win it in 1981. Actually, the case of both the Dodgers and Reds they would both go on to get their revenge on the Athletics in 1988 and 1990 respectively (Jerks!).
The reality in all of this is that it would be fair to say that the Athletics OWNED the 1970s. Having won the AL West title in five (in a row) of the 10 years as well as winning the most World Series titles that decade, it’s hard to argue that anyone else dominated like they did. One could make a case that the Reds or the New York Yankees were close having won two times each; however, the Athletics obviously beat the Reds and the Yankees only triumphed after having acquired two of the Athletics’ best players, Jim “Catfish” Hunter and Reggie Jackson. All I’m saying is that the Athletics deserve their due.