Fresh off returning to the Bay Area from our East Coast travels, we turned right around from being business focused to being Oakland A's focused - a very pleasing endeavor. This morning, my wife and I caught up with a friend from high school and made our way to the Coliseum to start off the 2006 A's baseball pre-season the right way, with the opportunity to see A's players and coaches, get a tour of the player's clubhouse, and eat ballpark food, more than 60 days before the start of the regular season.
It wasn't overly crowded, like any playoff game, but very busy - focused on autograph seekers and a serious push for ticket sales. We got into see a Q&A with the A's four top rookies from last year (Huston Street, Nick Swisher, Dan Johnson and Joe Blanton), but late. The ushers would wave 1 or 2 or 3 in at a time to fill empty seats, so we got in and had an angle that saw all but Huston. Still fun and good spirits by all. The best comments were when Ray Fosse ripped on Swisher for saying Joe Blanton is the best bunter of the four - saying that to have Blanton pinch hit for Swisher in a bunting situation would be very embarrassing. Fosse also slammed the guys trying to learn how to play guitar, and swore he was going to use his noise-reduction earphones to block them out on the next trip.
We took the clubhouse tour, and I was surprised by how small it seemed, as well as the dugout. Fairly close quarters to say the least.
A hidden surprise was a Q&A with manager Ken Macha and coach Renee Lachemann. Macha is a good conversationalist in person and did well with the crowd - even when one person challenged his use of Joe Kennedy in a must-win game. The guy kept going back to it, and berated Macha so much that the crowd booed him. But Macha came back to Kennedy's defense in a big way, and we all applauded. Macha also had some good insight into dealing with Billy Beane and how to deal with a deep lineup, but he wouldn't spell out his opening day line-up.