Thursday, October 02, 2003

Take Me Out to the WULAD
Or, Titillating Tidbits of Triumph, Tub-thumping and Troglodism at Game 1 of the American League Division Series, Oakland Coliseum.

[Note to non-baseball fans: Since this post contains humorous anecdotes and incisive observations about society not limited to the purview of Our National Game, it is suitable for general readers and is not to be skimmed over lightly like an air-dried pudding. Thank you.]

The WULAD News team was fortunate enough to send a delegation to the opener of the American League playoff series last night between the Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox, consisting of myself (not having picked a favorite yet) and Belle (an old-school Boston girl). Here are some of the highlights—close your eyes, read them, and you can almost smell the peanuts. Or maybe read them and then close your eyes.

Pre-game. During the singing of our National Anthem by a trio of unfortunate a capella Air Force harmonizers, three crimson-bedecked Bostonians—two twins (as I told Belle, “They got the same strain of ugly”) and an alpha-male ringleader with ball cap jauntily askew—hold their Bud Lights high in the air as a kind of alcoholic’s salute to our cherished ideals of 40-foot flags, fireworks, and terrifyingly low-flying fighter jets. “America,” they seemed to be saying, “this Bud’s for you!”

Bottom 2nd inning. Due to Belle’s desire to experience the feeling of eating a hot dog without actually consuming der verboten schnitzel itself, she devises an ingenious plan to create a “Not Dog”, demonstrated below:

You’ll notice that this plan, while providing Belle with her condiment-laden dogless dog, leaves me to contend with a massive, double hot dog, the likes of which I will never see again. (And I must add that one “Coliseum Dog” alone is at least 1.5 times the size of Pac Bell Park’s corresponding “Giants Dog.”) In a tribute to the heroic efforts being put forth by the players below, I valiantly attack and defeat this Monster Dog, ignoring the pleas for temperance coming from my digestive system. If I don’t devour this hot dog, I think, the terrorists and other freedom-hating enemies of nitrite-infused forced meats have already won.

Mid 4th. In the men’s room, I see a man standing at a urinal watching a portable TV he is holding with his free hand. I vow never to pick up a TV I find on the sidewalk again.

7th Inning Stretch. After I sing the one-note-displaced version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (“Take ME out to the ball-GAME, TAKE, Me out to the crowd BUY,” etc.) that my dad taught me (a version of which was later recorded by the Skeletons), the bouncy A’s girl next to me asks, “what song were you singing?” (Belle: “Any time you see a ponytail pulled through the back of a ball cap, it’s a bad sign.”)

Top 8th. We hear a kid in the row behind us tell his family he wants to start the wave; Belle tells him he should “go down there and do it!” “I’m too embarrassed,” says the kid. So Belle offers to embarrass herself with him, and down they go to the front row. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get anybody other than me and the kid’s parents out of their seats, one of the obnoxious Red Sox fans mentioned earlier starts flipping the bird to the two would-be wave-makers. “Hey,” shouts a voice from behind me, “that’s my kid you’re flipping off!” Belle yells to the flipper-offer, “I’m a Boston fan!”, not realizing until afterwards that this will not endear her to the rest of the crowd. So they resign themselves to the immobility of their audience and make their way back up the stairs. “Hey Boston-boy,” yells Belle when she gets back to her seat, “Why you flippin’ me off? I’m on your side, you idiot!”

Mid 9th. As the accumulated alcohol starts to stew in their systems, the tempers of the increasingly rowdy Bostonians start to rise. At one point we watch as Alpha-Sock, while arguing with one of his A’s fan-buddies, pours his Bud Light slowly and deliberately on A’s boy's head. “Please,” I think, “start fighting and get kicked out!” But, deferring to Alpha’s authority and fearful of the consequences of challenging clan leadership, the buddy merely turns away and changes his shirt and hat, sitting down to sulk and give his den-brothers the silent treatment.

Bottom 9th. Belle castigates me for failing to enthusiastically root for the Red Sox to win. I tell her I want more baseball, extra innings, etc. After the Boston bullpen gives up the tying run, I tell her, “Let them win it in the 11th.”

Bottom 10th. As the night deepens and the pitchers come and go and still the game endures, we feel our posteriors slowly turning to permafrost. Belle suddenly gets a craving: “Mmmmm… Coffee ice cream…” Belle’s cravings are a little weird.

Top 11th. The Red Sox fail to take the lead. “You said they’d win in the 11th!” barks Belle. “You promised!” (Most creative anti-Boston sign: a giant green placard reading “1918”—the last year the Red Sox won the World Series.)

Bottom 12th. Answering my increasingly non-silent prayer, a giant, formidably burly A’s fan and his significant other plant themselves directly behind our favorite group of rowdy Red Sox supporters, and suddenly their chest-beating dwindles to a low murmur. It could also be that, as Belle points out, “they stopped selling beer like two hours ago.” Minutes later, making his best effort to finish the game on the same calendar date it started, Ramon Hernandez lays down his perfect “walkoff bunt” to win the game for the A’s and a roar rises from the suddenly vindicated locals. Our bouncer-sized A’s fan laughs uproariously at our Beantown Buddies, and throws a crumpled napkin at Alpha-male, who makes his best “How scandalously uncouth of you, my good man; whatever were you thinking?” face and makes for the exit along with the Lee twins, “Ug” and “Home.” (Yes, old bad stolen joke.)

Post-game. Apparently the builders of the Coliseum never considered the idea of thousands of fans simultaneously leaving the stadium for the BART station, since the only route across the railroad tracks to the platform is a footbridge less than 20 feet wide with a chain-link roof and a razor-wire lined archway entrance which reminds Belle of Auschwitz. Naturally, we have another half-hour or so to stand around and listen to endless recaps from the trying-to-stay-happy-to-keep-from-screaming-in-cold-and-frustration fans. “Hey, that was a hell of a play in the fourth, eh?” … “Yeah, that was a good one.” … “And how about that one in the fifth?” … “Yeah…” As we finally step off the train back in San Fran, we pass a man wearing an A’s cap, a green shirt, yellow shorts and tights, and a long yellow cape with “A’s” on it. Somebody sees him and shouts, “Go A’s!” but he glances suspiciously out of the corner of his eye as if to say, “what are you talking about?” That's the spirit, slugger. For Belle and WULAD Sports, this is Yours Truly signing off from Oakland. Back to you in the studio, Kitty.