By TED SILLANPAA
The Oakland Athletics and their unique fan base are best appreciated from a seat in the Oakland Coliseum. No way to understand what’s happening in Oakland from a seat in the press box.
Comcast’s telecasts of Giants games are nothing like what Comcast does with the A’s. Spend an afternoon in Section 123 at the coliseum and you can see that the cutesy crowd shots that Comcast makes a staple of Giants’ telecasts from AT&T don’t work in Oakland because A’s fans are actually watching the game.
Comcast feeds the Giants TV crew Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper crowd shots of guys dressed like milk men or people wearing panda hats. The shots of young, upscale families keeping the kids busy during the game are hard to find in Oakland. The A’s fans are keeping score, a lost pastime at today’s game. They’re biting their nails and paying close attention to the game.
The A’s have a blue-collar crowd with roots that run deep. Oh, there are bandwagon jumpers who don’t know the names of the former A’s who’ve had their numbers retired. But, the bulk of the fans in Section 123 have clearly lived with the A’s and never questioned why they’ve had to do it the much maligned coliseum.
Crowd shots in San Francisco are like advertisement for the latest Giants’ merchandise. (Oh, they’re selling Hunter Pence jerseys?) A’s fans throw on their A’s gear that reflects the history of a franchise … one that shuttles players in and out of Oakland at an alarming rate. Giants fans pay full price for the new gear. A’s fans around Section 123 wore jerseys with names like LaRoche, Suzuki, Dye and others long gone from the Oakland roster. How often does Comcast catch a Giants fan in a faded, old Giants’ tee shirt with Uribe on the back?
In Oakland, it’s the name on the front of the gear that counts. In San Francisco, the gear itself is most important.
Mike Krukow makes a lot of soccer moms who show up at AT&T with signs aimed at getting themselves on TV. Four women in their 20s or early 30s waltzed down the aisles in Oakland Sunday, carrying beer, mixed drinks and a horn that one woman blew to get the folks who all seemed to know each other going in what was the A’s latest must-win game. Not sure the Giants would want to sell those hard-drinking gals, dressed for a hot day at the park, in full team gear with that infernal horn … right in the middle of season ticket holders.
A’s fans talk to one another like pals, buddies. That comes from spending time at the ball park when there are 5,000 or 8,000 in attendance. Easier to make friends in Oakland because the same folks are in the same seats most every night.
You won’t see A’s fans messing around online during a game, not now especially … not with one game separating them and the first-place Rangers. It’s nearly impossible to get any time of sweeping crowd shot at AT&T without wondering why a guy would go to the ball park to scan the internet.
It helps keep the serious, score-keeping, horn-blowing A’s fans involved because tickets are more affordable in Oakland than in San Francisco. They’re there come hell, high water or one of those seasons where Billy Beane turns the entire roster over out of the blue.
It’s just the type of fan interest and ball park experience that doesn’t lend itself to entertaining folks watching at home. No slides. No baseball glove-as-art in the outfield concourse. No beautiful view of the bay. Just baseball, the most interesting bunch in the playoff race and fans who love that team.