Anticipating the Oakland A’s Opening Day

Let’s Go, Oakland

Spring in the East Bay means baseball, yay. I’m a big Oakland Athletics fan, even if I don’t know much—make that anything—about the game or Major League Baseball. It’s a ball sport, after all, and the only one I have even the remotest personal experience with is tennis, which is no team sport and has far fewer players to keep up with.

I catch far too few A’s games, just a handful, every year. Last year I was there for a game on probably the hottest day of the year. It was so hot I rolled my jeans up to my knees and gave the fan sitting next to me $1 just to use her spray-on sunscreen.

But I love each baseball park experience, and, yes, even at the stadium everyone loves to hate, having grown up where Triple A baseball with bleacher seating at an even older ballpark was the only option in town.

At A’s games, I ask my husband annoying questions, mostly about who’s who; why that pitch was a ball, not a strike; what batting averages, ERA, and other baseball statistics mean. He taught me about on-base percentages when I played on our magazine’s softball team where he instructed me not to swing—ever—at any pitch so I could earn a walk. It wasn’t very sporting, but his strategy worked.

Too many times I’ve started paying attention to the A’s far too late in the season, only when they rally and somehow miraculously make the playoffs, though I honestly couldn’t tell you in most cases exactly which playoffs, meaning for the pennant (whatever that means) or the division title or the wild card bid, or the World Series. Whatever.

One thing I do know, though. Just when I learn the names of a few players to cheer for, that player is gone, traded away, and I have to start all over again. Just like the A’s themselves this year, thanks to an all new roster and Billy Beane’s penchant for maximizing his meager resources by identifying low-budget talent.

To get ahead of the curve this year, and to put you in a baseball mood, we sent writer Curtis Steudeman to the Cactus League to cover spring training. He teamed up with Phoenix photographer Andy DeLisle to watch the new team members, for the most part a bunch of strangers, get to know one another, forming new strategies and bonds we hope will take them all the way this year.

Opening day is just about here, and I have a date. And so, in two words: Go A’s!