When I told people where my siblings and I were traveling to watch the Yankees this season, most people thought we were nuts. Every year my two bothers, who live in San Diego; my sister, who lives in Manhattan; and I meet up for a road series. Anaheim usually makes the most sense. They prefer we travel there since they travel home for holidays. But with no weekend series in Anaheim, the best we could do was Oakland.
And you know what? The stadium and overall experience weren’t nearly as poor as I’d been told. It wasn’t like going to a brand new ballpark, but it’s also not a place I’d intentionally avoid in the future.
Oakland as a city gets a bad rap, and the stadium that hosts its baseball team is no different. Most of the negative reviews I’ve heard center on the largeness of the park in general and Mount Davis specifically. Yet neither really bothered me or my siblings during the trip.
There are some annoying aspects to the park for sure. For instance, if you enter at the entrance directly over the bridge from the BART you have to cut through a section of seats to get down to the bleachers. That took a few minutes to figure out. The concourses are easy enough to navigate otherwise, though.
(Oh, and the bleachers aren’t actually bleachers. They’re just seats in the outfield where they allow general admission and where you can’t see the warning track.)
Concessions were a bit barren, with several stands closed up. Still, there was rarely a line for anything. No, the A’s don’t sell out or anything, but they had attendances of 25,000 to 30,000 all weekend. So it’s not like the place was emptied out. In fact, they sold out the bleacher seats on Friday and Saturday before we could get a chance to pick them up.
In terms of sight lines, it wasn’t all that bad. We sat on the right field line the first two games and then the left field line the last game. Maybe the experience is a bit more disappointing on the lower levels, but in my eyes that’s a positive. A decent view from cheap seats makes for a better ballpark experience.
I have to say, the fans in Oakland were some of the friendliest I’ve encountered at road parks. Few of them taunted us, despite us being decked out in Yankees gear. In fact, after Saturday’s loss a group of A’s fans invited us to their postgame tailgate. They fed us beer and brats and didn’t ask a damn thing from us. That’s some hospitality right there.
In some ways I expected the place to be packed with Yankees fans, as tends to happen at road parks with generally low attendances. I guess there aren’t many Yankees expats in the Bay Area. It was pretty solidly green and gold all around, with a smattering of navy and gray.
The BART was pretty efficient in getting us to and from the game. It runs every 15 minutes or so, and it’s pretty well on schedule. Even after the games the cars don’t get that packed, but that appears that Oaklanders don’t take part in the New York tradition of shoving your way onto a subway car and packing it full.
What struck me as odd is the lack of postgame service. At Yankee Stadium they have multiple trains waiting on the 4 and D lines, since they know they’ll be serving thousands of game patrons. That was not at all the case in Oakland. They run on the same schedule, despite the predictable traffic following a baseball game.
As one Oaklander put it to me, “If they did that, wouldn’t there be a lot of congestion on the train tracks?” Apparently he’s never heard uttered the words, “We are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us.”
No one wants to go on the road and see the Yankees lose. It hurts that much more when you travel across the country and see them lose three straight one-run games. The games moved at a quality pace, since they were low scoring. But give me a four-hour win over a 2.5-hour loss any day.
The final game was perhaps the most painful. On an airplane with Wi-Fi that resembled dial-up speeds, I had to watch on Gameday on my phone. That died about halfway through the flight, and I had to convince my sister to let me use her Galaxy S3 (which is really hot, in case you were wondering). Seeing “In play, run(s)” during Seth Smith’s at-bat might have been the low point of the weekend — and I was almost home by that point.
Overall I have to say that Oakland and the Coliseum get some unnecessarily negative publicity. Is it the best place I’ve ever seen a game? Absolutely not. But it’s definitely a place I’d go back to if I had the chance.