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Thursday 18th Jan 2018

I had a lot of anticipation all day last Thursday, working, and waiting for 5 PM, Berkeley time.

That was when the Athletics and Tigers were set for first pitch, and shortly thereafter, the Giants and the Bears were ready for their kickoff.

When I invited my best bud Mark Berenberg, and his son-in-law Mike Schlesinger over, it was with the thought of the Bears--who I follow--and Giants--who Mike follows--dominating the evening.

For Mike and his wife Emily, and now their new son Gavin, don't yet get the NFL Network, so an evening watching and hanging sounded like a lot of fun.

But then Mark said Mike was off to Vegas for the weekend, and could not make it, and then I had to let Mark know that the real focus of the evening was going to have to be the Athletics and Tigers.

Mark, who lives within spy distance of the O.co Coliseum, understood. We stood, in fact, on Mark's back deck back in August when after the Athletics game it was Green Day Fireworks Night, watching the aerial ballet while my shuffle blasted out American Idiot.

Thursday, however, turned out to be a tough night.

Oakland lost a playoff series for the seventh time since 1992, and have not appeared in the Fall Classic since 1990, when they were beaten by the Reds, a team the Oaklanders should have bested, but Tony LaRussa was outmanaged by Lou Piniella

I did have high hopes for Oakland this year as first pitch neared, and a special desire for the team to take it out on Justin Verlander, who in many ways cost me heavily in Tout Wars. For, I had paid $31 for the rights to his services, and his performance was not even close to what I expected, let alone cost me.

But Verlander simply has the Athletics number, and no matter how many homers the team hit, or how well great youngster Sonny Gray looked, once Gray let a fastball hang for a second to Miguel Cabrera, that was all she wrote.

I had a hard time, in fact, watching the game once the first Detroit runs were scored because Verlander was so dominant, and the Oakland bats so completely impotent on that all important night.

That meant flipping to the Bears, a team that should have easily had their way with an 0-5 "jugger-not" like Eli Manning and his mates.

But I was wrong, for the most part.

7-0, yay.

Then 7-7, oh.

Then 14-7, yay.

Then 14-14, oh.

Around the time that the Athletics actually got a hit, the score had upped to 27-14 with the Bears in charge, but Eli and company came within six, as the eighth inning arrived, and Detroit moved it to 3-0.

I suppose had Oakland not been struggling so mightily against Verlander, the Bears tenuous lead would have felt a little better, but the truth is though I knew Mike was not present, with his team going to 0-6, I knew he was suffering. New baby or not, 0-6 is tough stuff.

Not to mention, when we did watch for a few plays, the Bears looked competent, but hardly convincing.

Eventually, I made us cheesesteaks and fries, and Mark and I subverted the end of the baseball season in the Bay Area by eating all of it, in the true fashion of sports fans trying to forestall agony.

Actually, since Mark really follows the Warriors, neither the Giants nor the Athletics losses took much of a toll on him. But, despite my desire to maintain some neutrality and keep my player analysis objective, I love it that the A's proved to be as good as I predicted seven months ago.

And, well, I was born in Oakland, whether I like it or not, so it becomes like extricating myself from the Raiders, whom I followed since 1960, and loved with all my heart until 1983, when they became as schizophrenic as my sports watching last Thursday.

Last Sunday, however, on the oddly named "Thursday Night Football Special Sunday Edition", the Raiders actually did look like a team for the first time since I can remember.

They had a defense with some purpose, and maybe even a quarterback in Terrelle Pryor who might really be something the past signal callers since Jim Plunkett have not been: a winner.

As for the Athletics, unlike my mates Lord Zola, and his Red Sox, and Brian Walton, who covers the Cardinals, well, we will simply have to wait till next year.



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