By Devin Reno Wright (@TheRealReno)
I feel like I should first point out that I have been going to A's games since I was around 12 years old, and I have seen some amazing moments at the Coliseum. Jason Kendall stealing home on an errant throw from the catcher to pitcher against the Angels, Bobby Kielty hitting a grand slam that was called by Cheese Robertson, Scott Hatterburg winning the 20th game in The StreAk on a fucking walk off bomb after not even starting. But never before have I been to an A's game like the one I witnessed last night. It was an absolutely unbelievable night made believable by a team that nobody thought would do anything memorable this year.
As I left my office to join my coworkers for a few drinks before jumping on BART, I couldn't help but notice how much A's gear I was seeing in downtown San Francisco. Jerseys, hats, t-shirts... green and gold everywhere. I was thinking to myself "maybe this game might have like 15,000 folks." But as I got off the train to walk across the bridge to the stadium, I quickly realized that this game was going to be as full as I have ever seen O.co.
Getting to our seats, the chants of "Let's go Oakland" hit me like a wall. It was so loud and crazy, I just could not believe it. My stomach turned into a knot and I felt a rush of adrenaline as the A's took the field. I knew instantly that this could be an unforgettable night. A quick 3-up and 3-down for the Rangers gave the crowd something more to cheer about as the A's came to bat. The players and fans knew getting an early start would set the stadium on fire, and that is exactly what happened. A quick 2 runs by the A's and the fans could smell the blood in the water. My ears were ringing with "Let's go Oakland". The "booop.....boooooop" game was going strong from the A's fans as the Rangers bullpen started getting warmed up before the inning was over. It seemed like the Rangers were frazzled already. Like they didn't expect this when they flew into Oakland. And why should they in all honesty? If I have never seen anything like what was going on, then the Rangers players certainly hadn't either. I only wished C.J. Wilson was still playing for Texas, so he could finally stop with all the shit talking he does about the city of Oakland, the team, and it's fans.
A's fans know that a 2-0 lead is a great start, but in a game against Texas, no lead is safe. They're simply too talented offensively to think you are going to shut them down. But Jarred Parker did an amazing job of getting out of jams, not walking batters, and limiting damage. When the Rangers came back and tied the game at 2, there was no sense of panic, but it did make the crowd more intense. Literally every single pitch was huge. People were standing on every 2 strike count (it should be noted that the ump had a very delayed strike call, which only added to the intensity by having to wait for the ball strike call). Every contact made by an A's bat drew a reaction. Throw overs by the Rangers drew loud boos and jeers. The fans responded to every hit like they were home runs. And then in the fifth, the A's bats took control.
Back to back doubles had the crowd in a frenzy. A stolen base by Coco and a sac fly gave the A's 4 runs causing fans to go nuts. High tens, hugs, and the Bernie were all #trending HARD.
Between innings, the cavernous concourses of O.co were filled with chants and horns. Bathroom and food lines were 30 people deep. They would only move when the A's came to bat, and people would just bail out of line to watch the A's hit. People in the stands were dancing like crazy when the Bernie song, and Call Me Maybe came on. It wasn't a rowdy drunk crowd like we are used to for Yankee, Giants, or Red Sox games. This was crowd that, as the game wore on, just seemed genuinely more and more happy to be there, and cheer on their underdog team of goofball party boys.
As the bottom the ninth came up, I checked my phone and saw a text from a friend (who shall rename nameless), who said "Does Ball Four have it in him?" This was no time to respond to pessimism I thought. For the last 3 hours, I had been surrounded by the most optimistic bunch of people that I have ever seen. There was no room for pessimistic thoughts in this place, I said to myself.
In the bottom of the ninth, "One" by Metallica started blaring and the crowd rose to their feet and began rolling their arms in beat to the song a la Daunte Culpepper circa 1999. The music was getting louder and arms started waving like crazy. I must have said it 1,000 times, but I have NEVER seen the Coliseum like this. I wasn't in shock, but I was in awe. Green, gold and white all standing and cheering and pumping their fists to the heavy drums and guitars of Metallica is a beautiful sight to behold. The scene was just.....Awesome. Balfour got 2 quick outs on 6 pitches. The crowd was screaming and so ready to rock I thought the upper deck was going to collapse. A 3-2 count set the scene, and with a dirty fastball, the fans erupted. Kool and the Gang could barely be heard over the roar of the crowd. People hugged, danced and high fived for what seemed like 30 minutes. Nobody left their seats as the players sprayed champagne and light domestic beer all over themselves and the fans behind the dugout. Josh Reddick even decided it was OK to plant a pie in his manager's face during an on-field interview. The fans of green collar baseball stayed and partied long after that last pitch. It felt like we were partying with the team.
As Dud and I left to start the BART ride home, neither of us could say much other than "wow...just wow". We asked, can you frame a ticket from a game that sealed a Wild Card spot? When we finally took our seat on the train, I realized that it didn't matter that it was just a wild card spot. This game will be remembered for more than that. It was a game that, for me, will always be remember for bringing out the positives from a city, and a team that people don't expect very much from. It was a game that, after all the bullshit Oakland has gone through, showed that this team is more than special. They are unforgettable.