I’d never even come close to seeing a no-hitter in person, but if I were to see anyone pull it off it would have to be Tim Wakefield. I’ve only been to about 100 major league games in my life, and I’ve seen the world’s last effective knuckleballer pitch roughly 84 times. OK, maybe it’s closer to five or six times, but most Wakefield starts seem like two games in one — like my only time at Fenway, a surreal contest in 2007 in which Wakefield gave up 7 earned in 3 innings and the Red Sox ended up winning 16-10 anyway.
This game was quite the opposite, and before we knew it the old knuckleballer had a perfect game going through five innings. That was the same time I sat down with four hot dogs, courtesy of the Coliseum’s Wednesday special ($2 tickets, $1 hot dogs). With the Red Sox in town and it being Spring Break, we were unable to get any $2 seats in the middle of Mount Davis so I made up for it by getting my Kobiyashi on. Actually, we all did. Everyone in the stadium walked around with cardboard drink holders piled with mountains of foil-covered dimunitive dogs. I had to wonder if whatever franks went uneaten would be later transported to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and served during 60-cent night. They sure tasted the same, but seeing as probably 70,000 dogs were sold on Wednesday there probably weren’t many left over.
In the sixth inning Mike Lowell booted Kurt Suzuki’s grounder and the perfect game was over. But the no-hitter lived on through the seventh, in a 2-0 game that threatened to end in under two hours. Then the Red Sox messed around and rallied for 6 runs with 2 outs in the top of the eighth to break the game open, keeping Wakefield in the dugout for somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes.
Wakefield predictably walked Mark Ellis to start the bottom of the eighth (you could almost hear Lowell breathe a sigh of relief after that) and a couple minutes later gave up a one-out single to Suzuki to end the no-hitter, at which time my buddy Mac’s prediction came true and about 50% of the A’s fans immediately got up and left. Wakefield ended with a complete game 8-2 win, giving up a run and two hits in each of the last two innings. It was the best outing I’d ever seen from Wakefield, who I have a feeling I’ll see pitch again in person — even though he’s 42.
–It was weird to go to an A’s game without Dot racing, which has been replaced with BART racing (three BART trains racing each other after a long, heavy-handed BART commercial). I feel kind of embarrassed that I even noticed that, but the A’s were the first franchise to get fans to scream about a fake race on a Jumbotron. I guess since the Giants sold out the “K” signs in right field to a certain sausage company, it was pretty much inevitable that the A’s would cash in on their greatest cultural contribution to the game, besides white shoes and mullets.
–Any new additions to the Coliseum’s entertainment lineup? Actually yes, they’re doing the limbo now! No, they aren’t holding a limbo stick out on the field for the kids, or on top of the dugout. There’s a virtual yellow line on the Jumbotron that kids on camera are supposed to limbo underneath, at least until they walk too far and the unmoving yellow line rests upon them. It’s a limbo that nobody wins, least of all the people dumb enough to keep watching. Like me.
–It’s always nice to come to the Coliseum and see the ambience. And by ambience (or as Mac likes to call it, Giambience), I mean the tarps that cover the entire top deck except for the All-You-Can-Eat section high above home plate, which was the only area in the park that looked even close to empty. Shocking that people weren’t rushing to pay $35 to sit up there on dollar hot dog day.
–Jackie Robinson deserves all the tributes possible, but one of the rough things about watching a game where everyone’s wearing the same number is trying to figure out who some of the unknown players are. Like when Landon Powell plays first base instead of Jason Giambi or the great George Kottaras catches Wakefield…
–Of course we all knew who Bobby Crosby was, he’s that guy with the high socks who’ll somehow end up with 450 AB’s this year because he’s backing up Eric Chavez and Nomar Garciaparra. Look, we all know he won the ROY about 20 years ago, but there’s no way Crosby is even as good as Kevin Frandsen, even when healthy.
–Dustin Pedroia was booed the loudest of any player on either side (which was almost an upset since there was about twice as much red in the stands as green). Either there were some Woodland residents in the house, or people are getting really tired of all those MLB 09: The Show ads.