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Sunday 26th Mar 2017

My seat in the press box in Oakland is about seven million miles from that of the Official Scorer. This might not sound like a problem, but sometimes hearing clearly over the PA in the booth is tough.

And it’s quite the problem at ATT, which is why I got my seat moved a couple of seasons ago to that right next to the scorer. Part of what makes it hard to hear is the ATT PA is muffled, and the speakers point in different directions. More importantly, the windows to the booth are always open, and since the Giants sell out all the time these days, I truly could not hear things like "E6" or "Passed Ball" unless I was in a closer proximity.

But these days the only instances when the A’s draw a crowd are when the Yankees and Red Sox and Giants are in town, and occasional holiday fireworks shows. So, it doesn't really matter that the windows are open or not.

But it is really sad.

I mean, Oakland has four world championships to their name, including three in a row in the early 70's, not to mention those three consecutive appearances in the late 80's.

Plus, among Connie Mack and Charles O. Finley and Billy Beane (and Moneyball), the fact that Oakland has trouble getting more than a few thousand fans to show up for most games is really sad.

Equally sad is the Coliseum itself. Too bad too, for I remember when the park was new in the late 60's--when Finley owned a team with Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi--when a mechanical rabbit arose from the depths of the park to hand the home plate umpire a new load of pristine Rawlings baseballs. In those days the team actually stuffed folks into the seats.

But 40 years later, with the team struggling, the ballpark remains one of the few relic multi-purpose arenas where both baseball and football are being played.

To accommodate the return of the Raiders from the dreaded Southern California back in the previous century, the County of Alameda built a ton of extra seats and luxury boxes around the outfield above the bleachers to pacify another storied Bay Area sorts team owner in Al Davis.

Well, that addition--referred to as Mount Davis--is big and ugly and blocks a pretty good view of the East Bay hills. Plus, the park rarely sells out for the Raiders, let alone the Athletics.

So these days, with the team struggling for an identity, in a crappy outdated ballpark, with no fans, it is really tough to watch, let alone work a game.

This time of year, with the team out of it, playing another losing team like Seattle, after the outfield has been shredded by the Raiders weekend play, it is even worse than pathetic.

And, as noted, it is sad for Oakland and the Athletics--and even the Raiders--deserve better.

Thing is, there are places a new stadium would work. Off the Alameda estuary, for example, or better, downtown by City Hall where things in Oakland could come back to life as magically as the South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco has blossomed since Pacific Bell, nee SBC, nee ATT Park has been around. Plus, downtown Oakland has the strategically located subway system making it a perfect commuter park on a single block possibility. Like ATT Park.

There have been rumors of a new stadium down the peninsula near San Carlos or San Jose, which would be a drag compared to 20 minute trips to the yard, it would be more like 90 minutes each way, unless commute time in Silicon Valley ever factored in. That would easily add an hour to the trek, and that means it would hardly be worth the journey, as much as I love watching baseball and scoring games.

A few months back I was reconciling my MLB.com box score with Chuck Dybdalls, the OS that day, when we joked that one of these days they would move my seat and that of my next door neighbor Jeff Smith, who does the box scores for STATS, Inc. in Oakland would move next the OS and save all of us running back and forth between innings to make sure we were in synch with rulings.

One of the Athletics media team was sitting there with us and he said he would make sure our placement was atop the list of important things as soon as the team got a new ballpark.

What he meant was don't hold our breath, either at the Coliseum or a new venue.

For a team with such a great history as the Athletics, that really is a shame.

 

 

 

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