Monday, August 22, 2011

A Commoner’s Guide to the Oakland A’s

I was so excited to get my third invitation to join my friend Efrain and his 77 friends and family members for their annual A’s Game at the Oakland Coliseum.   Every commoner loves baseball!
We arrived in Oakland at 1:30 for a 6:00 p.m. baseball game, because in addition to baseball, commoners love to tailgate!   It was easy to find the group.  First of all, we got there four and a half hours before the game started, so the parking lot was pretty much empty.  Also, as Efrain said,  “it’s a big, loud group of Mexicans, you can’t miss us!!”  And he’s right.  As soon as we pulled up to the easy ups marking our space, our good friend Efrain, and a friend of his who I’ve never met, came over to meet us.  She had apparently enjoyed some shrimp right before we got there.  Unfortunately, she’s allergic to shrimp and was having a reaction.  You know, one of those scary reactions where you get hives and your throat closes up and you can’t breathe?  Yep, that kind.  Luckily Chevron was having a pre-game event and had an ambulance on stand-by.  Although Efrain suggested she just,  “have a drink and relax”, we decided to rush her to the waiting ambulance where they immediately gave her an injection of Benadryl and took her off to the hospital.  “Should I go with her?” asked Efrain tentatively, hoping we’d say no.  After all, commoners are loyal to each other BUT he’d been drinking and we DID have a baseball game that evening.  We quickly said that of course he didn’t have to go, and sadly shook our heads as the ambulance roared off.
Back at the tailgating site, we enjoyed many drinks, loud music and tons of laughs.  George bbqd some great tri-tip.  Man, was it good!!  We had tri-tip, bread, coleslaw, salsa, salad, vegan mac and cheese and so much more.  It was wonderful.  While we were eating, I kept scanning the horizon for Sue.  You remember Sue, right?  She’s the friend who introduced me to the Stanford Theatre.  She loves baseball,  and also brought some yummy cookies, decorated in honor of  the A’s with yellow and green M & M’s.  Anyway, so I’m scanning the horizon for Sue because she decided to take BART (the train) over from the San Francisco area and meet us at the arena.  I’m guessing it’s cheaper than parking AND she can enjoy an adult beverage if she wants to.  Why doesn’t Sue just call or text me so we can meet up, you ask?  Well, she is phone-less.  No, she didn’t LOSE her cell phone, she doesn’t have one, YET.  I should mention, we live very near to Silicon Valley, technology central!   And still no cell phone.  After years of heckling and reasoning with her,  I think we’ve convinced her it may be a good item to purchase.  In fact, Sue found us and arrived intact, with about 2 dozen delicious cookies, which lasted just until the kids found them;  about 7 seconds.   I knew I should have hid them in my pockets!
So the game began at 6:00.  As usual we weren’t in our seats when the National Anthem was sung because I needed to stop for a margarita, which came with a cool shaker…all commoners like free stuff.   We also made a pit stop at the bathrooms;  those port-a-potties in the parking lot were pretty raunchy.  And also because Heather needed to explain to some salad holding strangers behind us at the margarita stand, what a vegan is.  She is a proud Vegan and is happy to try to convert you!
The game was a humdinger.  The A’s, who struggle most years, actually won!!  They beat the Blue Jays, well, I think it was the Blue Jays, 5 to 1.  Although Efrain loves his family he isn’t much of a baseball fan.  He stood most of the time and heckled the ump or cheered on the pitcher.  At first the lady behind us LOVED us and actually wanted to be an honorary member of Efrain’s family.  “You guys are soooo much fun!”   She even tried to set Efrain up with a GOOD person.  Don’t you want someone nice to come home to, she asked??   She told him of a bar near his job that would be just perfect for him to visit after work.  However, she changed her tune a bit when Efrain decided he preferred to stand than to sit!  
Somewhere in the middle of the game, probably the 5th inning or so, we noticed a “rumble” happening to our right.  But wait!  We have 77 people in our party.  Could it be someone we know?  Security is being called, beers are being spilled in anger and oh my, that lady is SCREAMING at the man behind her.  Hmmm, I think to myself.  I’m pretty sure that screaming lady is the same lady who made the salad for our tailgating party.  OH BOY…FIGHT!!! And just like that, 77 people are on their feet.   Now, if you haven’t heard about Oakland, let me just say I recently saw an episode of GANGLAND which was filmed there, and it does not look like Mainstreet America.  It’s a little scary, especially for this commoner.  So, the 8 security guards and two Oakland Police Officers rushed over to put a stop to the screaming.  They basically said they weren’t choosing sides but to SIT DOWN and STOP.  Then they left and almost everyone sat.
Aye aye aye.  It wasn’t 20 minutes later when they came screeching back down the aisles, yep aisles, plural, on both sides of our seats, and told one guy he had to go.  Apparently they’d been watching from above and had picked out the instigator and hauled him off.  Hmmm, not sure where that punk went, but adios.  I have a game to watch here people! 
The game went along nicely.  Joe-Joe, a 13 year old in our group who was sitting 2 rows in front of me ended up with a foul ball.  We all congratulated him on his luck.  After the game when I got the story he said he didn’t even know what hit him… literally!  Apparently he was sitting there eating some super delicious nachos (I can’t believe he didn’t fill up on tri-tip and Sue’s cookies) when something hard slammed into his leg.  He was rather stunned and starting rubbing his sore leg when people began leaping towards him.  He figured out that it was a foul ball just in time to snag it from under the empty seat next to him.  WOOWOO He picked it up, held it up high and smiled this big huge smile.  Hope he put some ice on that leg!
Just about that time, security headed to our seats again.  I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure they are rolling their eyes.  There’s an empty seat from where that punk who was hauled off was sitting, so one security dude with a mullet sat there to keep an eye on us, uh I mean them.  Luckily, we had no other incidents.  In fact the game ended with fans, including Efrain and myself, dancing  to “Celebrate Good Times, C’mon” or whatever it’s called.  About 5 minutes later, when there are no longer any players on the field, Efrain said, “Uh…did we win?”  I guess he thought it was just a dance break!!
Well we lucked out.  For $20 we not only got to sit in row 17 and enjoy a fantastic game, it was fireworks night!!  All of us fans were invited onto the outfield to sit and enjoy a fireworks extravaganza.  Wow!  This was as good as any fireworks show I’ve ever seen, not at all common.  And, hey!  We were sitting on the luxuriously soft outfield at the A’s Coliseum.  What a great night.  The fireworks were shot off to a medley of Elvis tunes:  “Jailhouse Rock”, “Blue Suede Shoes” and,  “Don’t be Cruel”, just to name a few.    You could hear the commoners oohing and awing at the colorful fireworks!  How cool!!
Then the lights came back on and we headed back to our tailgating.  Nope, not to go home, but to continue our party while the crowd cleared out.  As one of Efrain’s brothers said, “Don’t leave now!  We’re just getting ready to party it up!” and party it up we did.  We had music, dancing and oh boy more food!  No, no, no, not leftovers from lunch, that would be too common.  This time we had carne asada tacos with homemade salsa.  What a treat!   Unfortunately Efrain’s brother had to do the bbqing this time.  Can you believe our friend George, who bbq’d the tri-tips at lunch, was the PUNK who got hauled out of the game by the Oakland Cops.  I guess I better pay closer attention next time.
It was cold and we had a long drive ahead of us.  I was trying to coax my 2 friends into the car so we could leave.  They were having way too much fun partying it up with Efrain’s family.  However, then the motorcycle cop came over and said, “For your own safety I highly suggest you leave soon.  There’s a KMEL Jams concert ending shortly next door and I don’t want any of you to be victims.”  VICTIMS, I gulped!  This was my cue to hightail it out of Oakland and back to the safety of my hometown.   “C’mon girls, we’re outta here!!”
I love the A’s and never ever consider one of their games a common experience, especially not this one!  Can’t wait until our next outing in August 2012.  Go A’s!