Monday, April 1, 2019

World Series champs are chumps in Oakland

When the late Al Davis convinced/snookered the City of Oakland and County of Alameda in 1995 to lovingly welcome the Raiders back to Oakland with open mouth kisses and confetti and spend millions of dollars to fix up the Oakland Coliseum, his master plan included having Oakland hosting a Super Bowl.
Oakland? Super Bowl? Right.
For the Raiders’ owner to return, the Coliseum’s renovation had to feature a new 22,000 top tier seating section along with two 40,000 square-foot club levels, 125 luxury suites, and two new color video boards. This colossal of a concrete mistake came to be known as “Mt. Davis” and was so steep that former Contra Costa Times sports columnist Gary Peterson opined that if anyone accidentally fell back and out of the top row and plunged toward the pavement far below “they would die from old age before landing.”
The increase in seating capacity to more than 65,000, Davis believed, would convince/snooker the NFL to consider the Oakland Coliseum as a future site for the Super Bowl. Well, Mt. Davis for the past 11 years has been a wasteland of green tarps covering empty seats and the Raiders are soon leaving town again for good so a Super Bowl in Oakland seems about as likely now as a Donald Trump-Michael Cohen Reunion.
Now look closely. It may not be THE Super Bowl, but Oakland does in fact host a Super Bowl-like event every year in the Oakland Coliseum and we’re not talking about the Monster Energy Supercross Series.
We’re talking about pretty much every time the Boston Red Sox come to play in Oakland. Oakland feels like a winner.
Let me explain. The favorite teams may be most of the time on opposite sides of the competitive and payroll scales now, but whenever A’s and Red Sox fans collide in the Oakland Coliseum, it’s the Irresistible Force (Red Sox fans) versus the Immovable Object (A’s fans). Red Sox fans chant “Let’s Go Red Sox” (followed by five claps) which A’s fans try to shout down with chants of “Let’s Go Oakland” followed by the middle finger.
For the Red Sox, now defending World Series champions, a trip to play the A’s in Oakland has become a new curse in franchise history. Let’s call it the Curse of Coco Crisp. Or any ex-Red Sox player who ever don the green and gold in Oakland. Boston has traded away or refused to resign most of their former Red Sox players, names like Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Jed Lowrie, Dennis Eckersley, Scott Hatteberg, Dave Henderson, Carney Lansford, Matt Stairs, and the aforementioned Coco Crisp, A’s players who regularly haunted their former team.
The Red Sox, in Oakland, have lost 36 of their last 51 games and have won only three of their last 16 series here. Last night, the Red Sox lost to the A’s when Khris Davis blasted another home run off David Price after he hit a game-winning three-run HR off Price here last year. Davis, for the record, is not an ex-Red Sox player, but in December of 2017 Boston was inquiring about his availability during its pursuit of free agent J.D. Martinez.  Ramon Laureano also homered off Price and threw out Xander Bogearts at home plate from centerfield. Laureano was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where the Red Sox established a baseball academy when he was 10 years old.
OK, I’m reaching to see how far the Curse of Coco Crisp extends, but the simple fact is the Red Sox win as often in Oakland as often as Golden State Warriors’ foes in the playoffs.
And it doesn’t matter who pitches. Roger Clemens, wearing eye-black and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shoelaces, famously got kicked out of a playoff game playoff here and it had nothing to do with his weird choice of apparel. Red Sox fans show up hopeful and go home harassed.
Take last night. Barely 12,000 fans showed up on a cloudy and cool evening yet, in the seventh inning when the Red Sox got two runners on base, Red Sox fans started their “Let’s Go Red Sox” chant and A’s fans drowned them out with boos. This combative back-and-forth, despite the small crowd size, creates an intense and interesting Super Bowl atmosphere in the Coliseum that ordinarily has the feel of a mausoleum.
In the end, the Red Sox rally fizzled, the A’s beat them in the Coliseum, and A’s fans once again mocked Red Sox fans heading to the exits with chants of “Let’s Go Oakland.”
For Red Sox fans, this has become more than a disturbing tread. It’s become another curse.


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