The tarps are coming off the upper deck at the Coliseum...
...only to dash them by the time I got to the next clause:
...but it's only temporary.
This current homestand concludes the period of the season in which A's fans can look at the field of play and see a lush, verdant grass that conjures up instant memories of care-free summer days. After the Athletics dispense with the Mariners next Wednesday and fly off to Kansas City, the Coliseum staff will go to work, converting the stadium for Oakland Raiders' preseason games. When the A's return to the 510 on August 28, they'll be greeted by a field criss-crossed with hashmarks and endzone lines, plus a giant swath of dead grass out in center field where the football stands were erected.
Oh, and there'll be another homey touch this time around, according to the Chronicle...
While the A's are on their next road trip, the Raiders also will be holding their Raiders Nation celebration on Aug. 27, the day before the A's play Boston at the Coliseum. Because the Raiders need to be able to show the seats to potential season-ticket purchasers that day, the tarps can't be replaced until the morning of the 28th.
Putting on the tarps takes almost twice as long as taking them off, so, [Director of Stadium Operations David] Rinetti said, the work will not be completed by the time the A's and Red Sox take the field, and it might not be done by the next day, either.
So imagine the scene on that Monday -- Oakland and Boston, two teams that are likely to figure into the playoff race until the bitter end, take the field in what is sure to be a tightly-contested three-game series... only to find a brown patch of dirt in the outfield and the inspiring message of "HOME .F THE ..KLA.. AT..L..ICS" displayed proudly in the upper deck.
No, public address announcer Dick Callahan can assure the fans, the A's weren't secretly relegated to the Pacific Coast League overnight. Though, admittedly, it's getting harder and harder to tell.
I was not a fan of the organization's plan to tarp off the third deck when it was announced; I'm even less of a fan after seeing it in practice for two-thirds of a season. I've never really believed ownership's stated reason for the move -- "to create a more intimate fan experience!" -- believing it to be a euphemism for "Let's cut operating expenses to the bone until we can leave this hellhole for some taxpayer-funded pleasure dome!" The once-abundant $2 Wednesday tickets have become so scarce they might as well not exist, obliterating a convenient low-cost way for me to take in a mid-week game above and beyond the ones I attend as part of my season-ticket package. And if the reduced capacity has allowed the A's to better concentrate their staffing resources, it's news to me -- lines at the concessions stands (the ones that are open anyhow) move about as quickly as they did a year ago. If the A's are putting the extra manpower into security, I can assure you it's not being done in the right field bleachers. For the second time in as many games that I attended with my wife, we wound up moving to another part of the stadium when our section was over-run by foul-mouthed drunkards and security was nowhere to be found.
And now add to that list the likelihood that the stadium will look like some sort of decrepit Hooverville during the stretch run of the pennant race.
Now I suppose I could offer a suggestion or two to Lew Wolff on how to remedy this aesthetic nightmare -- some sort of radical notion like "Hey why not just leave the damn tarps off for the remainder of the season instead of yanking them down every time the Raiders need to use the place?" -- but since none of my ideas involve using baseball team ownership as a way to build highly-profitable condos, I doubt he'd listen. Instead, let me suggest that the A's go in the opposite direction, to complete the look-and-feel of a stadium with brown grass and a half-tarped-off upper deck.
• Put a rusted '74 Chevy Impala up on cinder blocks in the left field alley and alter the ground rules so that any ball hitting off it remains live. Eat your heart out, Yankee Stadium monuments!
• Replace the A's green-and-gold home uniforms with bib overalls. Also, the players are prohibited from wearing shoes.
• During pitching changes and other breaks in the action, have the scoreboard display a "Gone fishun'" message.
• Build a beer can pyramid on top of the visiting dugout.
Sure, these may seem like small, unambitious changes by themselves. But taken together, they can help complete the Coliseum first envisioned by Lew Wolff when he got the idea to tarp off the upper deck.