The O.Co Coliseum, where the Oakland Athletics have been dominating the West for three years, has become a joke. The once fantastic baseball venue has become the laughing stock of major league baseball. From leaky roofs and flooding toilets to clogged concourses and obstructed views from the seats. The coliseum I once frequented as a child is gone and a mausoleum remains.
It isn’t the problems that dominate the national news, though. It’s the attendance. The Oakland Athletics are currently ranked 25th in attendance, and despite a steady increase coinciding with back-to-back division titles and a strong run at a third, the crowds just don’t show up unless there’s a bobblehead or chip platter waiting for them at the front door. But boy, when they show up it’s fantastic.
I’ve been to several of the sold out games this year and even in the first weeks of the season, they felt like playoff games. The crowd gets into it and the house gets loud and when you watch the player interviews after the game everyone is energized and filled with life. This is how baseball should be. The Bay Area is host to two of the best teams in baseball and there are enough people in the area with enough money to support both of these teams.
Some fans, I know, avoid the games as a misguided protest to Lew Wolff’s desire to leave Oakland as if a total lack of fan support is incentive to stay, but these are fans we don’t want at the games anyway. We want fans that come out for a party. We want fans that get rowdy and cheer and head-bang. We want fans that wave their flags and stay until the very last out is recorded. We want A’s fans filling those seats because when that house is rocking, there’s no place greater to be.
When I’m in a crowded place, particularly in the east bay, I make a point to count people wearing A’s gear and people wearing Giants gear. At a street festival in Livermore last month, there were four people in A’s apparel for every one Giants jersey or hat. This misconception that there aren’t enough A’s fans is just that, a misconception. The A’s are a franchise with history and character and a loyal fanbase.
The TV ratings are lower for the A’s but I attribute a lot of that to sports bars and restaurants who will have the Giants playing on five TV’s and don’t even have the A’s game on at all. To remedy that, I’ve begun requesting the game be turned on any time I walk into a bar and it’s not playing.
All of this is not to say that the Giants don’t deserve their fanbase. A new stadium and two championships is going to do wonderful things for the numbers but there is room for another team in this market and that other team happens to be the best in the American League (at the time of this writing).
So, my call to action for you is this. Buy tickets to games! Go to as many as you possibly can. Bring friends. Tailgate. Make it a party. Support the best team in the league. And when you do, Tweet it and post it to your Facebook wall. Instagram it, and let everyone know what a great party is happening in Oakland 81 nights a year or more. I have started announcing the games I’m attending and using the hashtag #SellOutTheOco and I encourage you to do the same.
This isn’t about getting Wolff to sell the team or to keep them in Oakland. This isn’t about anything but great baseball because regardless of your team, you are a fan of baseball and some of the best baseball to be had is in your backyard.