The other home team

Pub date April 2, 2013
WriterL.E. Leone

IN THE GAME I still think it’s easier to get to A’s games than Giants ones. You get on BART, you get off BART. Tickets are relatively cheap, and really very all-around available.

What the Giants have on the A’s is a prettier stadium with better concessions, including gluten-free hot dogs and gluten-free beer.

What the A’s have on the Giants, besides tickets, is Jed Lowrie.

Not since my Favorite Player Ever, Omar Vizquel, came to San Francisco from Cleveland in 2004 have Bay Area baseball fans been in for such a pleasant surprise.

Mind, Lowrie is not a flashy defensive shortstop with exciting speed, the world’s sweetest smile, and a sexy Venezuelan accent. He’s just an adorable white guy. From Oregon. Like Omar, he’s also an artist. A photographer. Who plays shortstop very well, and — without drawing too much attention — hits a ton. Well . . . 1,998 pounds, let’s say.

Last Opening Day Hedgehog and I were living in New Orleans, where the only baseball we could get on TV was the Houston Astros. The lowly Houston Astros. The 55-107 Houston Astros.

For once in our life we had a television, a 50-inch one, and a giant leather couch, and what was on was the worst team in baseball.

Bu we watched a lot of Houston Astros games. That’s how we happened to see Matt Cain’s perfect game. And that’s how we happened to fall in love — both of us — with Jed Lowrie.

Who was traded by Houston to Oakland in the off-season.

Lucky us. Lucky him, too. From worst team in baseball to playoff contention is not bad.

In a way, interestingly, Lowrie kind of brought the Astros with him. Like a bad smell, Houston drifts this year from the overcrowded NL Central to the A’s division, the AL West. That means the A’s will see a lot of Lowrie’s old team.

I like the matchup. Combined, the A’s and Astros enter the season with a payroll about two-thirds that of the Giants. Combined.

I know what you’re thinking: what does this have to do with me?

Depends . . .

Who are you? Are you Matt Cain? If so, you won’t be pitching any perfect games this year. Are you Brett Anderson? You might be. Are you neither? Just an average every day cash-strapped alternative weekly sports fan? Well, root root root for the other home team this season, I’m saying. They’ll give you more bang for your buck; it’s kind of a specialty of theirs. Remember? There was a whole movie about this.

Good as we’ve got it on this side of the pond, they have Jed Lowrie and Brad Pitt.

Yeah, but we have World Seriousness, you say.

I say . . . yeah, you’re right. There’s that, but I watched that World Serious, and it was boring. Fun, but boring. The good guys won; but kind of boringly, didn’t you think?

League Championship Series, maybe, but I don’t remember much about the Fall Classic. It went quickly. At the Mission and 22nd Street bonfire, I got spray paint on my favorite coat. Um . . . something about a bus.

Ask me about the Oakland-Texas series, though, and it’s synapse city inside my little head. Ask any A’s fan lucky enough to be there the last day of the regular season, the day the A’s came back from four runs down to sweep the defending (x2) American League champion Rangers and win the division; it is etched in their memory like the 20-game win streak of 2001, or the taste of carnitas in mine.

Texas was in first place all season. They came to Oakland Oct. 1 with three games left and a two-game lead over the surging A’s. On a whim, back in June, when the A’s were at least 10 games back, I had bought $2 tickets for the last game of the season, Oct. 3.

And that’s the other thing: BART $2 Wednesdays. This year there are ten of them, starting April 3. Hey — what are you doing after work?

Oct. 3, 2012, was sold out, the only regular season sellout at the Coliseum except Opening Day. I have never witnessed anything like it in my baseball-game-going-to life. It felt like football in there, that’s how raucous it was. It felt like the fans had a say, like in football. And maybe we did.

And maybe we do.

Wednesday, April 3 vs. the Seattle Mariners. My guy Jed will be playing shortstop, batting probably second.

Oakland A’s Coliseum