On Tuesday in the San Jose Mercury News, sports columnist Mark Purdy wrote a story headlined, “Cancel Bay Bridge Series.” He explained that the advent of interleague play has eliminated the “fizz” of the games and added, “I salute these discerning customers who wish to unload their tickets.” He’s certainly entitled to his opinion and I would imagine there are plenty of people who would agree with him. However, I’m not one of them.
There’s no doubting his point that the summertime meetings which actually count between these teams have taken the exclusiveness out of the proceedings. No such novelty exists when the A’s and Giants meet anymore. Or does it? I still think there’s something there, Gertrude Stein. When I was a little kid, I asked my Dad why the A’s never play the Giants. He said, “they’re in different leagues – the only way it could happen is if they met in the World Series.” I didn’t like that answer. It made no sense to me that the A’s had AL West opponents in Chicago, Minneapolis and Kansas City while the Giants had to fly to Atlanta to play a division foe. So for me, because of this fascination over why they never couldn’t compete against each other until 1997, it still holds some “fizz.”
Also, the interleague games are six at the most and last season were only four. That’s a cup of coffee in a 162-game schedule. You want to rid the game of monotony? Go back to the balanced schedule. This unbalanced schedule, which puts emphasis on division play, is the bane of baseball. Playing the same four teams 19 times each is impossibly stale. You think A’s fans love to see the Rangers way more times than the Orioles, Yankees or Red Sox? You believe a Giants fan doesn’t yawn when he knows it’s a game versus the Rockies again? I liked it when every team played each other 12 times. Six at your place, six at our place. Alas, those days are gone. But I’ll never forget the Bash Brothers sweeping the entire season series (12-0) against New York in 1990. Fans in the Bronx were actually cheering A’s home runs in order to mock their own team. So with AL West being shoved down my throat, I welcome a game against any National League team, especially one I can walk to from my radio studio.
Plus, there are a lot of fans out there who care about both teams. That might anger some people, but it’s true. I know plenty of folks who have a favorite between the two but will pull for the other one. And it’s been proven that there are thousands of bandwagon fans in the Bay Area who will throw on the gear of whichever team is winning. The young transplants in the Marina only attend Giants games to drink and be seen, but the Giants get their money so they don’t care that most of them will leave town and be replaced by more “fans” in a year or two. This kind of revenue stream allows them to pay their players, and so they win again, rinse and repeat. Just 25 years ago, the A’s had the highest payroll in baseball while the Giants had the “grungy” fans who earned a Croix or two at a “lousy” stadium. Yet now the Giants are the smug, corporate franchise whilst the A’s have the “grungy” fans at the “lousy” stadium. Ah, perceptions and stereotypes.
There are plenty of fans who still get a kick out of this matchup. While not a barn-burner, it’s better than any alternative I’ve heard. I will be there tonight and am excited about it. Banter will be in effect, especially as bizarre and crass social media exchanges have ratcheted things up, even in an exhibition. It’s always been there, even before the almighty internet was around. I remember being at the Bay Bridge Series in 1990 when Will Clark hit a home run at the Coliseum and a Giants fan yelled, “revenge!” A spring training homer erasing a World Series sweep? Yeah, OK. C’est la guerre.