April 28, 2007

An Enjoyable A's Afternoon (With Bobbleheads!)

As Oakland A's partial season ticket holders, my wife Kristine and I have seen more than our fair share of excellent baseball games - from Marco Scutaro's walkoff 3-run home run against the Yankees a few weeks ago to Huston Street striking out the Giants' Barry Bonds to close out the 9th inning last season, and many more nail biters. Today's game was quite different, in that for once, the A's posted a significant early lead, and held on to it to collect the win. We even managed to get to the game early enough to collect a pair of bobbleheads featuring A's gold glove third baseman, Eric Chavez.

The A's early 2007 season can be characterized as being short on offense, by both teams. The A's haven't scored much, and their starting pitchers have been lights out. Today, only of those things was true. Ace Danny Haren, leading the league in ERA, went 7 1/3 innings, and saw his team pound out six runs in the first, at one point leading the Devil Rays by a 12-2 margin, on the back of three run home runs by rookie Travis Buck in the 1st inning, and later, the aforementioned Chavez, who managed to sneak a long poke fair after two close calls that ended up being long strikes. While the bullpen stretched out the final score to a 12-5 victory, the 26,000+ of us in attendance could relax, enjoy the 80 degree Spring weather and enjoy a comfortable A's win, which at times seems a rarity.

The art of obtaining an A's bobblehead isn't much of a secret. Take the game's starting time (today it was 1:05 p.m.), subtract two to three hours, and make sure you get there on time. For us, we toddled in at 11:00 a.m., and found the line to get into the Coliseum stretched from the BART bridge down to the parking lot, and in a serpentine fashion, the line snaked up and back three times. A humble usher held a sign that said "End of Line" to let you know you really did have to go the end, and couldn't line jump to aid your chances. Though wary we would miss out, as we have before, we dutifully trudged to and fro until we were presented with the much-desired collectables. The Eric Chavez figurines now join other bobbleheads on our roster, including Haren, Frank Thomas and Nick Swisher. One of our new bobbleheads will be placed on the cubicle wall of my colleague, with whom I share a collection.

Our devoted fandom was hardly out of order in today's crowd. Others had shown up hours before we had, placing down blankets, eating Krispy Kreme donuts or playing cards to pass the time before the lines opened. It may not have been the latest Star Wars premiere or video game console release, but the demand was certainly there. We were lucky to both get our bobbleheads and see a great game in great weather to boot. The only downside was coming in record proximity to grabbing a foul ball in the first inning that made its way to a 7 year-old two seats to my right. It's not really worth retelling, but I'll just say that I hope for my next opportunity, I'll be more prepared.

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