If the Bay Area wasn’t electrified by this weekend, there’s something wrong. I was at O.co Coliseum Sunday, and I paid particular attention to who was in the stands and what the cheering was like.
But before I even got to the stands, I took a good look around the parking lot. This was the first game I have been to this season since I made the almighty, perhaps mentally unhealthy decision to attend college in Oregon. In any case, the tailgaters were out in full force. Interestingly enough, 28 of the 31 groups I observed had a mix of Giants and A’s fans. Mostly bigger groups, the tailgaters all intermingled and there was no hostility observed between the two fan groups.
This intermingling continued in the stands as well. It seemed to be pretty even in the amounts of orange vs. green, but the numbers were not indicative of the cheering going on at the ballpark.
When Matt Cain was announced as the Giants’ starting pitcher, he got a louder ovation than any Athletics starter. Granted, Matt Cain recently threw a perfect game, but that still says something about the fans in Oakland, and around the Bay Area. If anything, it said that most of the people in the crowd were Bay Area baseball fans first and foremost.
When Buster Posey went yard in the first inning, it sounded like a home game for the Giants. Only one cheer was louder throughout the whole game, and it didn’t come until the ninth.
Sitting right in front of me was an A’s fan. He was the kind of guy that every baseball fan loves at a ball game — he offers peanuts to you, he high-fives those around him, and he’s always looking for a good ballpark chat.
Two rows down, there was a loud Giants fan wearing a Pablo Sandoval jersey. He wasn’t obnoxious, but he certainly was not shy about showing his San Francisco pride.
Throughout the game, the two went back and forth with friendly trash talk. The A’s fan even threw peanuts at the Giants fan, but not once did things lead to anything more than a laugh.
Still, Mike Krukow said in the post-game show that he thinks A’s/Giants is just as intense as Giants/Dodgers. Marty Lurie said something similar in his postgame show, but I think “intense” is too bland of a word to describe what is going on. There may have been just as much emotion at the ballpark today as there will be next week when the Giants play the Dodgers, but it’s a different kind of emotion. At Giants/Dodgers games, the emotion is fueled by hatred. At A’s/Giants games, the emotion is fueled by enjoyment.
My sister, who is not a huge sports fan by any means, actually made a very astute observation at the game that I think puts things in perspective: the Bay Bridge Series is a tame rivalry, but it’s one of the most enjoyable sports weekends in the Bay Area.
Even if the rivalry isn’t as intense in terms of hatred and hostility as some others around the baseball world, it’s still a fun one that a lot of people care about. Maybe the rivalry could be more hostile, but where’s the problem in the way things are now?
When Derek Norris hit his first career homerun to win the game for Oakland in the ninth, what followed was the loudest cheer of day — even louder than the cheers for Cain’s introduction. As I looked around, everyone was cheering. Not just A’s fans, everyone.