Pregame ceremony including a jet flyover at O.co Coliseum (Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE)

2012 Opening Night: A Night of Unusuals

My balance has been way off kilter for the last 12 hours or so, can’t walk straight, can’t see straight.  No, it’s not due to over indulgence of adult beverages at the O.co Coliseum last night.  I sat behind home plate and was subjected to the shockwave created by the missile launched by shiny new CF Yoenis Cespedes, a missile that I believe travelled straight through Mt. Davis, is now orbiting the earth, and a shot that I believe Yoenis is still admiring in the batter’s box.  I’m sure head groundskeeper Clay Wood is mildly annoyed that he remains in their way.  But we have no sympathy, he can admire that homer as long as he likes.

It was a night of “unusuals” for two main reasons, first the impressive display of power not seen in Oakland since the likes of Jason Giambi first wore the white spikes, or perhaps harkening back to the Bash Brothers era with Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, and second, the large crowd that was there to witness it.  It’s been a constant thorn in the side of dedicated A’s fans that the Coliseum is largely empty most games these days.  But this night, 35,067 fans jam packed the place to get the first true look at the 2012 A’s.

I arrived roughly an hour before game time, the trek from the North Bay down 580 and 880 is nothing short of arduous, so I consider that an accomplishment.  We (myself and my wife-to-be) settled into our cozy seats in section 119, feeling every bit as excited as the bleacher creatures who had been there since the parking lot opened at 2PM.  A little pomp an circumstance took place, fireworks, color guard, an oversized flag, and don’t forget the sweet jet flyover.  A moment of silence for the victims of that horrible shooting at Oikos University in Oakland earlier in the week was a very nice touch as well.  The introductions of the players were the norm, “And now the Assistant to the Travelling Secretary!”  It was good to see Dallas Braden there and get some love, he seemed to appreciate it too.  A big welcome to Oakland from me to Jonny Gomes, the aforementioned pride of Petaluma.  The part everyone was waiting for certainly was the introduction of CF Yoenis Cespedes, he probably received the loudest ovation of all.

The game itself was not all that unusual, the A’s shot themselves in the foot a few times, gave the Mariners extra outs and it cost them the game.  Brandon McCarthy didn’t have a lot of help, but he did not help himself either.  It was a game that I think most realistic A’s fans in attendance knew wasn’t going our way fairly early on in the evening.  The error by Josh Donaldson was frightening to me, his throw led Jemile Weeks right into the runner, causing him to collide with his left arm and shoulder, spinning him around.  We’ve seen this before, and guys easily get separated or dislocated shoulders for their troubles in this situation, thankfully Jemile did not receive such punishment.  The game became almost comical when on consecutive plays Cespedes and RF Josh Reddick caught potential sacfrice flies only to drop the ball during the transfer to the throwing hand.  The runner on 3rd Chone Figgins respected the arm of Cespedes and was simply bluffing, but he scored easily on the fly to Reddick.  Neither were errors, but ominous signs of the defense we have to look forward to.

The crowd was at its angriest on two occasions.  When Jemile reached base on a throwing error, and went all the way to 3rd when 3B Kyle Seager airmailed the ball to the Seattle bullpen, only to have the entire play wiped out when the home plate umpire decided he fouled the ball off his foot.  Jemile subsequently swung at strike 3 that appeared to be around his eyeballs.  The other play that angered the masses was the sacrifice fly that plated Brendon Ryan, but after further review later on, a nice slide and a lack of blocking the plate by Kurt Suzuki was the culprit.

The A’s tried to spring to life in the 8th, but it was far too little too late.

I felt very similar to how Chris Townsend described it on A’s Talk on 95.7 The Game afterwards as we made our way back north.  It was an ugly game, and if we see this a lot we most likely won’t see a ton of wins, but Yoenis Cespedes gave us all reason to watch these guys all season long.  Watching that home run on television simply does not do it justice, watching it in person does.  I’m hopeful a few of the fans who attended last night’s game were sold on the idea of attending more to see the power display that can be put on by Mr. Number 52.  I know I’ll be there (next game Monday night vs. the KC Royals).  I hope to see many of you as well.

 

Check me out on Twitter @SeanD25, see my take on everything else baseball at Baseball Obsessed, and follow everything Swingin’ A’s @FS_SwinginAs.

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Tags: A's Brandon McCarthy Brendon Ryan Chone Figgins Dallas Braden Jason Giambi Jemile Weeks Jonny Gomes Jose Canseco Josh Reddick Kurt Suzuki Kyle Seager Mark McGwire Oakland A's Oakland Athletics Promotions Yoenis Cespedes

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