Wednesday, February 4, 2004

My First Game

Here's the box score and play-by-play for the first A's game I can remember attending, in 1986.

My dad took me and Matt, a neighborhood kid, to the Saturday afternoon game. There wasn't much of a crowd for the A's-Jays matchup, featuring two teams that finished a combined 25.5 games out of the playoffs. I remember starting out in the first deck down the left field line, just under the overhang of the second deck. After a few innings, we were able to move down behind home plate, no more than 15 rows back.

The A's won the game 2-0, with four pitchers combining for a 2-hitter. Notable events/appearances (for me anyway) included 2 of Dave Kingman's 1,816 career strikeouts (ninth all time), Jose Canseco as a rookie (getting heckled by the home crowd, no less), one of Dave Stewart's 12 relief appearances as an Athletic, Carney Lansford playing first base and Tony LaRussa in his first month as the A's manager.

The differences between my first game and today's games are remarkable. As everyone knows, offense has exploded. In 1986, only one AL team cracked 5 runs per game, and in 2003 five AL teams eclipsed that mark.

While offense has exploded, the average fan's access to the live product has dwindled. In '86, we were able to waltz right down behind home plate. Last year, I went to a game at Yankee Stadium and was handed stubs for front row tickets behind home plate for the final two innings. The ushers barely allowed us into the seats -- Even though we had the right tickets, they knew we didn't pay for them. Besides increasing prices, the teams are more rigidly enforcing the rules that protect those prices.

We've come a long way from yesterday's brand of small-ball, fan-friendly baseball to today's baseball machine that produces revenue and runs. Where will the next twenty years of baseball take us?

Beats me, but I'm ready to go along for the ride. Let's just get this next season started already...

Does anyone else remember their first baseball game? Tell me about it.

1 comment:

  1. There is a baseball season quickly approaching and the promise of warm sun, green grass, peanuts and cold beer, is enough to drive a man insane.
    But I must digress.
    I was reading an article on Drew Henson recently and started wondering. Is baseball the hardest of all sports to succeed in? Did you realize that 1% of the entire baseball playing population of the world gets drafted every year, and only 1% of that makes it to the bigs?
    Take Henson for example. We all know the story, first round draft pick of New York, signs for an ungodly amount of money.... Now he is turning down the most lucrative years of his Yankee contract to go play a sport he hasn't played in 3 years. This tells me one thing, you can be one of the greatest athletes in the world and not stand a chance on the diamond. Why? I have one theory. Baseball is one of the most innate games out there. It relies more on learned skill than just raw athletic ability. The game is controlled by the rules, base to base, pitch to pitch. There are very few moments when an player can cut loose and display his raw muscle rippling athletic talent. Now some people may feel that this is what makes baseball boring and not as action packed as other sports. But those moments when the tension in the air can be cut with a knife, and every sole in the stadium is on the corner of their seats, because they know that that next pitch, that next hit, that next run could mean the difference between winning and losing. Those are the moments that make the game great. Those milliseconds. Those millimeters that mean the difference between a home run and a harmless fly ball. Those fleeting moments that can be missed in a blink of an eye, make this the greatest game ever played.