Two games in Oakland, two losses for Boston

Friday night Teddy,  Grippi, Teddy’s girlfriend (who’s name suddenly slips my mind), and myself went to see Boston\Oakland.  We had absolutely amazing seats, besides sitting in the 411 Club at Fenway they were easily the best seats I’ve ever had for a sporting event.

We were three rows off the field, and nearly dead center behind the plate.  I would actually prefer to be a few yards from directly behind the plate as you get a better angle for pitches, and probably a bit better of a view once the ball is in play.  It was amazing to be able to sit that close.

As if the astounding view of the field wasn’t enough, our seats were about 10 feet from the on deck circle which provided some fun entertainment throughout the night.  We heckled Jason Giambi the entire night.  Most insults revolved, but weren’t limited to, his use of steroids.

I didn’t really realize how clearly the players could hear us when we yelled to them while they were in the on deck circle until I yelled at Mike Lowell, “Hey Mikey, we love you – we never wanted Teixeira, we want you in Boston.”  Much to my suprise Mike Lowell put up his right hand and waved at us.

It’s rare that players show emotion, and respond to often times drunk and stupid fans.  I had more than  few beers in me for the game, but Mike Lowell took the comment to heart and showed rare attention to a fan by waving at me.  After reading interviews with Lowell earlier in the year, it quickly became apparent that he was upset that the Red Sox had chased Boras and Teixeira around in negotiations.

Assumptions by most was that the Sox would move Youk over to third to make room for Teixeira and Mike Lowell would have then been traded for two sacks of marbles and a few Gummy Bears.  Negotiations obviously failed as the Sox offered a whopping two million dollars less per year than their hated rivals over in New York – hey, Mark has a family to feed too.  18 million dollars a year wasn’t sufficient for him, nor was the alledged 16 million dollars Baltimore offered him to come play baseball just miles from where he grew up and most of his family resides.

The seats were absolutely stunning, but unfortunately the Red Sox wern’t.  Youk continues to be extremely hot at the plate, but the Red Sox offense in general has been quite lacking in these first eight games.  Jon Lester looked equally uncomfortable on the mound getting slapped around by Oakland’s offense that includes former Red Sox Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra.  Even still game was quite fun, especially from those seats – simply put, they were some of the best in the house, and only cost us $52 a piece.  The crazy part of it all was that we bought the tickets online a mere two days prior to the game – a clearly indication that Athletics ticket sales are way down this year.

In year’s past Red Sox\A’s games have been sold out entirely for weeks prior to the games, with lower level tickets often times being scalped at a near 50% markup.  Not this year, lots of lower level tickets available even on gameday.  We had most of our section rolling laughing at our belligerency in yelling witty, and sometimes insulting things to a variety of Oakland players, Giambi receiving a particular amount of attention.

Quite a few people in our section opted to join the fun, mostly making fun of me when hassling most of the A’s players in the on deck circle.  In front of us were a few Yankees fans that came came entirely decked out with Yankees gear.  One of the guys must have taken a liking to us, and ended up giving us free tickets to a Tampa Bay A’s game later this month in his season tickets, 2 rows behind homeplate.  Very nice gesture considering Tampa is likely one of the higher demand series of the year, and he also mentioned to us he was supposed to sell the tickets to someone he didn’t know, but wanted us to come enjoy the game with him a few weeks from now – should be fun.  I wouldn’t mind scoring those tickets off him several times this year… extremely entertaining to be that close to the game.

Tonight Emily, Brian, Lady B and myself went to the second game of the three game set and sat down the first baseline about 15 rows – very nice seats but I have to admit after being spoiled the first night, the tickets though very close, was not mind blowing.  Sometimes in life when we get a taste of the best, that becomes a starting point for evaluating future perspective on things.

I was lucky enough to arrive early and snap some great pictures during batting practice and we also got some solid ones during the game.  Below I have posted several of these shots.  I will have to bring the camera when I go see Tampa later this month and snap some more.

Boston lost in the 12th tonight, after an extremely poor outting by Dice-K, giving up 5 earned runs in the first 4 outs he recorded.  Boston’s offense was more potent tonight, putting five on board but it simply wasn’t enough.  Youk is red hot, but other than that the offense looks relatively flat this year.

Ortiz continues to struggle, which is not all together suprising to me.  His bat speed looks much slower this year.  We watched him struggle to get a piece of 90 mph fastballs, something we haven’t seen much in the past.  My personal predictions for Ortiz this year would go down as his worst season in a Red Sox uniform.  He seems to be aging, and (take a deep breathe Sox fans, and perhaps take a seat) I suspect he was using steroids during his prime years just a short time ago.  He has been riddled with injuries since widespread investigation and media reporting began on steroids use, and just doesn’t seem to be half the player he once was.

He is still batting third in the lineup, but that could change especially if we add a bat during the season.  My prediction for the player that was just a short time ago the most intimidating bat in baseball are something like:

100 games played, 380 at bats, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs, batting around .258.  Some fans will tell you those expectations are fairly low, but I think in the end they will be close to on point.  A little bit shocking from a player that averaged 43 HR a year from  2004 to 2006.  The loss of bat speed, and team’s increased ability to get David to hit into the shift has tamed the big fella out quite considerably.

A few words about the attendance at the games.  Nearly the entire second deck for both games were empty, something you would rarely find at any A’s games a few years ago, and likely the worst attendance for a Boston\Oakland series in the last 10 years.  Even large portion of the lower section were empty, and word tonight was that they only sold 22,000 tickets of the 35,00 tickets available leaving the stadium 37% empty.  If they are having a difficult time selling out Boston games, especially early in the season when each and every team has renewed optimism about their team, I can’t imagine the hit they will take later on thsi year… most likely some games will have 50% of the seats not sold.

For a team that has clearly always had financial woes most MLB teams aren’t accustomed to, this will come as an enormous hit to the organization.  Once they fall out of playoff contention, most likely around the trade deadline, I expect them to move players to save money, Matt Halladay comes to mind.  They won’t be the only ones looking to shed salary space, as lots of mid level and small market organizations might report a 35-45% decrease in net profits.  It’s revealing of just how bad the economy is when America’s Past Time is showing serious serious signs of financial woes in the near future.  Baseball’s attendance has stayed pretty consistent in the last fifteen years, and has actually been growing each and every year… clearly won’t be the case.  Recession after recession, people continue to go out to the ballpark with their families, enjoying the heart warming feeling merely stepping into the stadium provides.  Something about the sights, sounds, and beautiful field really does invoke comfort and happiness, at least I know it does for me.  It will be interesting to see just how bad things get for America’s most popular sport.

In any case, I’ll update soon when I have more positive things to say for our Sox.  For now, it ain’t  looking pretty.  Here are some pictures from both batting practice and the game.  Enjoy and feel free to post comments if anyone is following along.  Sorry for the dupes, I’m still trying to get used to this site and I’m having a hard time getting rid of the dupes.  Anyhow, hope you enjoy.

 

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~ by yamar2001 on April 15, 2009.

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