Last night was a special night for me. And for Major League Baseball. After not being able to have fans in attendance all of last year except for a few postseason games, the league is back in full swing with fans being able to attend games in limited capacity. Except for you Texas Rangers. Shame on you.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit across the United States and all of Major League Baseball in early spring last year and the league had to shut down everything. It was only months later into the summer did the league begin playing games. No fans in attendance and my hopes of attending a big league game that season was dashed.
I usually find myself in Oakland for a handful of games every year to see my hometown A’s. Since moving to Los Angeles, being able to attend games at the Coliseum has been challenging but I have found ways to fly or drive back home. The team didn’t allow any fans in attendance at all last season, opting for cardboard cutouts among other silly gimmicks. But this season, they’re letting fans in at a limited capacity (20 percent) and I knew immediately I wanted to be in attendance for that first game. I booked my flight and bought my ticket to Opening Day in Oakland. I had to be there.
This will be my first live sporting event since a Warriors game in San Francisco last January. The pandemic took away any other chances of me attending any other sporting events since then. But now a little bit over a year later, I am back at one of my favorite places ever.
The Coliseum site itself has been a vaccination site in recent months and now it’s welcoming fans back for a live event. I wanted to document everything about my experience in my first game back. I wanted to see what was different now than what it was like in 2019, the last season the team was able to have fans in attendance. Here’s what I saw.
Today the Oakland Athletics embark on their third consecutive season in the playoffs. The last two years, the A’s failed to win the division and were forced to play in the Wild Card Game. Both times, the A’s lost and their postseason dreams ended just like that. This season with the 60-game schedule due to the pandemic, the A’s won the West and don’t have to worry about a one-game schedule. They will now play a best-of-three set against the Chicago White Sox. The A’s will play all these first round games in Oakland, which is a nice reward for winning the division. It’s a different format than previous years because of the pandemic but I won’t complain about it. The A’s clearly were the best in the division and have earned this right.
But will they win this series? Will they go far into the postseason?
Having watched the A’s this season I believe that they have what it takes to win it all. However, they need to be so perfect in everything they do in these playoffs. On paper they are not the best but they have found ways to get it done on the field, leading them to a 36-24 record this seasons.
Mariano Rivera received 100 percent of the votes for his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a tremendous achievement as he was the first ever inductee to receive all votes.
And he deserves it.
There has been some outrage from fans complaining about how it’s not fait that Rivera was the first one to receive the honor. They mention inductees like Ken Griffey, Jr., Nolan Ryan and even Babe Ruth who never got to 100 percent.
With the Indians moving on from Chief Wahoo, they have unveiled three new elements to their uniform set as part of the transition. Wahoo is no longer on caps and on sleeves of the uniform. Instead, the Indians are embracing the Block C on all caps and the Wahoo patch instead will featuring the All-Star Game patch.
Their red jersey is actually a nice look, giving us a reminder of the bold red uniforms they wore. I actually think the red jersey works and it is a fresh new look. Especially since the navy version of this was worn so often in previous years. That navy jersey is gone now.
That home cap that pairs with it makes the most sense. The same Block C logo but it still gives the Indians in a sense the same home look with a navy cap with red brim.
This season wasn’t supposed to be like this for the Oakland Athletics. They were expected to maybe finish in third place at best in the division. The team was supposed to be contending for the postseason in 2019. Maybe 2020. No, they were not supposed to be here.
But they arrived sooner than expected. They got 97 wins and got into the postseason as a wild-card team. That’s how stacked this American League was. Three teams had at least 100 wins and the A’s at 97 wins had to settle for the second wild-card spot.
And that’s what made this season so special. Sure, it sucks that they lost their wild-card game and their postseason dreams were dashed just like that. But what can you do when the rotation was made up of spare parts and a bunch of inexperienced players lead the team to the postseason?
On Saturday, Oakland A’s pinch-hitter Mark Canha hit a go-ahead two-run homer vs the Giants. After the swing, he “flipped” his bat, stared at his own dugout before trotting the bases.
People are upset about the flip.
Of course, these “unwritten rules” debates have existed for some time. Some people are upset that Canha shouldn’t show up a pitcher and he should expect to get a pitch thrown at his body the next time up.
Other feel that it’s OK to have emotion during the game and the best way to avoid a bat flip is to not give up a home run. After all, pitchers can show emotions after a strikeout but a batter can’t do it after a big hit?
The A’s entered this season with a faint hope of maybe securing that last wild card spot. But after an impressive sweep of Detroit (with some fun comebacks sprinkled in there as well) the A’s are only seven games out of the final wild card spot.
Of course this is still only the halfway point and there are plenty of things that can happen.
But this team is surprising many people. With so many starting pitchers injured and some key players also coming on and off the DL, it’s hard to predict. But we had some bats heat up lately. Jed Lowrie has been tremendous during this stretch and the A’s never say die attitude is giving this team a spark.
It’s actually pretty hard for me to put into thoughts on Ichiro’s career. He’s now in the front office and likely will play a couple more games next year when the Mariners visit Japan. After that, I think it’s officially over for him.
But with today’s news, I still can’t help but reflect on all the times I saw him play live when the Mariners came to Oakland. I knew I was in the presence of greatness. This once-in-a-lifetime talent was bigger than what I could have imagined.
He had speed. He could hit. He had an arm. He had power. He had it all. And every time I saw him play I was just amazed at what he would end up doing.