The A’s aren’t headed to Candlestick tonight. Times have changed. Generations have passed. New stadiums have been built. Instead, it’s AT&T Park where the A’s will arrive fresh off their series win against the defending champion Astros.
It was a series in which the A’s threw their proverbial hat in the ring and showed the baseball world the Bay Area will hold a seat at the table this October when the playoffs roll around. Billy Beane take notice. Start working those phones. Your ball club just dismissed the Indians and Astros back to back… on the road.
Excitement is building over this team and all eyes are looking forward. Forward to tonight where we find ourselves at the Battle of the Bay. A’s vs. Giants. Jackson vs. Bumgarner. AL vs. NL. DH vs. a pitcher swinging a bat. Oakland fandom vs San Francisco fandom. These are the games within the game and the matchups we look forward to when interleague play arrives.
For avid baseball fans, the love affair with the game becomes a marker of time. The biggest moments in baseball folklore serve to represent the passage of time in our lives. The Reds’ Series sweep in ’90. Jim Abbott tossing a no-no in ’93. Ripken breaking Gehrig’s streak in ’95. McGwire hitting #62 in ’98. The Jeter flip in ’01. Bonds hitting #73 that same year. All memorable. All attached to a memory where the world stopped and baseball was all that mattered for a few fleeting moments.
So while I’ll be thinking about all of what is to come for this scrappy Athletics team tonight as I watch the game, I’ll also be looking back to my earliest memory as a baseball fan. The Battle of the Bay in ’89. The earthquake series. It would be easy to say this was my first baseball memory, but admittedly it was not. The dagger that was Gibson’s home run in ’88 is where my timeline and recollection of baseball begins.
Fast forward one year to October 17, 1989 and even though I was just a boy, I can still hear the confusion in his voice as Al Michaels tells the millions of those who tuned in for Game 3 of the Series that an earthquake had just happened. The ballgame at Candlestick Park never began. The world listened and watched as images of the Bay Area poured in. Part of the Bay Bridge collapsed. Freeways crumbled. Buildings were damaged. Gas lines burst. Lives were lost.
The images that I observed on that day put a fear in me that I hadn’t previously experienced. It would be ten days before the World Series would resume. This was a lifetime to a young child. Irrational as it was, I remember feeling a sense of panic that didn’t subside until baseball started once again. It was my first lesson that life does indeed move on.
Tonight, as I tune in to watch these same two teams meet up in San Francisco, baseball will remind me of the memories held by that 13-year-old boy. I will embrace every moment of looking back, but will also push myself to look forward as I believe this A’s team has the makings of something special.
Before us is a team that is 19-5 over their last 24 games. The best record in baseball during that time period. There is a zero quit attitude in the clubhouse and it has carried onto the field as our come from behind victory yesterday against the defending champs showed. As fans, it’s time for all hands on deck. Let’s embrace the excitement a contending team provides and see if Billy Beane can mark time for us once again.