The Oakland Athletics tried their very best to stretch their game Saturday to coincide with that of the Texas Rangers. The idea of clinching the American League West title in the Coliseum clubhouse instead of in their homes was an appealing possibility.
But two things intervened, one before the A’s gobsmacked the Minnesota Twins, 9-1. First, the Rangers, who had to lose for the clinch to happen, beat Kansas City. And second, someone thought, “How much more fetid liquid can this plumbing spit back at us?”
[Instant Replay: A.L. West title all but official]
Yes, it was another Sewery Saturday on the S.S. Septic, and this time a morning squall was the culprit. A steady and occasionally torrential rain backed up the already calcified drains and sent the A’s coaches room into a . . . well, “brown tizzy” is probably not the right term.
It passed, though, and the A’s went about their business de-winging the fly that is the Minnesota Twins, 9-1. Three homers, 16 hits, six innings from Jarrod Parker, 26,393 people defying the passive-aggressive wishes of minority owner Lew Wolff.
There was, though, no celebration. The A’s and the last few hundred of their remaining fans watched Texas smother Kansas City (a nice touch by the management, acknowledging the rest of the baseball world), 3-1, and the drains were safe for one more evening.
“It’s been good as a source of humor,” manager Bob Melvin said, “as long as it doesn’t affect the things we do. It’s not an issue for us.”
On the other hand, who doesn’t love a cheap hook on a complicated story, and sewage amidst joy has all the comedy stylings a person could ever need. It’s the story line that won’t die, because of its pure silliness.
Thus, the A’s are stuck with a conundrum. Clinch on Sunday and risk offending the Mario Brothers yet again, or wait until their final road trip? On the one hand, the fans would get to see their heroes frolic joyfully on the field. On the other, the concessions stands might run out of wellingtons.
These are considerations not even Candlestick Park has ever raised. It slapped an earthquake across the mush, for God’s sake, and is going out on its own bitter terms.
The Coliseum, though, is nowhere near done with its service, largely because A’s ownership has repeatedly bungled its escape plans. The old girl may have trouble keeping its food down, but it’s still the only game in town, and the A’s are going to have to deal with it.
[RELATED: Rain, sewage couple for grizly scene, delayed game]
And by “deal with it,” we mean fixing it. The entire system needs a full-blown cleanout, and if it means all new pipes and grease traps, then that’s what it means. The sewage jokes were funny the first two times they made the circuit, but Saturday’s festival of fe . . . no, that’s too cheap even for me . . . is now just a cliché.
It’s not that the place where we watch our athletic circuses gets to have better care than any other civic institution. It’s that the place needs work, and this is not one of those good-money-after-bad things fiscal tighthinders like to bray about.
It’s simple math. X+Y=Z. X being “the A’s and Raiders are stuck in this stadium for years no matter how much they bitch about the place,” Y being “the work has to be done, and there are plenty of people available to do it,” and Z being “Dry shoes, socks and cuffs for everybody.”
That, frankly, is the minimum standard for any abode, and the next time Oakland mayor Jean Quan turns up at the ballpark for some silly photo op trying to convince people she cares about the sports teams in her city (I mean, at least Jerry Brown meant it when he said he didn’t give a damn), she should be in overalls and holding a plunger.
In the meantime, the A’s dance on a tightrope over a gigantic port-a-loo, and it is no longer that compelling an act. Ultimately, it’s going to serve as an easy and stupid backdrop to their postseason run – The Forward-Looking Team With the Backward-Running Drains – but it has already outlived its cleverness.
Fortunately for baseball fans, the team has not. And if we are all very lucky, we will not have to wade (yeah, I said it) through any more sewage stories between now and the end of their season.
We of course are not ever that lucky, but maybe we can get through the rest of the year without any more fresh reminders of what isn’t so fresh about the Coliseum.
And one can only assume that UA Local 48 of the Plumbing and Pipefitting union has dropped enough business cards at both City Hall and the A’s offices to get months of work for every dues-paying member it has ever had.