Athletics

A's spring training Day 32: Bigger crowds could mean no tarps at Coliseum

A's spring training Day 32: Bigger crowds could mean no tarps at Coliseum

MESA, Ariz. — Removing the tarps from the third deck of the Coliseum is an idea the A’s have at least explored, according to team president Dave Kaval.

Don’t expect them to be leaving anytime soon however. Any thoughts of taking the tarps off will be a direct result of increased fan interest and ticket sales, and thus a need for third-deck seating, Kaval said.

“As someone who at one point bought tickets in the third deck and went to games when I was at business school, it’s a very fun environment,” said Kaval, who attended Stanford. “And so we’re evaluating, based on the attendance and the interest in the club, whether or not we’re going to keep them on or remove them. Right now we’re keeping them as is. Kind of the demand dictates that, but that’s not to say that couldn’t change over time.”

The tarps first were introduced in 2006 for A’s games and have been in place ever since. They’ve been the subject of much criticism from the fan base over that time. The A’s removed them from the original third deck for the 2013 American League Division Series against Detroit, though seats on Mount Davis remained covered.

BALLPARK UPDATE: Kaval said the research and behind-the-scenes work continues as the A’s weigh where to build a new ballpark in Oakland. They still are considering four sites — the current Coliseum; Howard Terminal; and two near Lake Merritt — one close to Laney College and another in the Brooklyn Basin area.

Kaval has promised an announcement for a location in the 2017 calendar year, but he wasn’t giving any more specific timetable Friday.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time obviously on the transportation and transit plans for the different locations, as well as really just soliciting community input and seeing what people in the different neighborhoods, what they think about a ballpark in that area,” Kaval said.

PROSPECT WATCH: Franklin Barreto, Matt Olson and Chad Pinder were optioned to Triple-A after Friday’s 3-2 loss to Arizona. The A’s consider all three potential future pieces, with Barreto — a middle infielder ranked as Oakland’s top prospect — in particular turning heads with a dazzling performance this spring. He hit .481 (13-for-27) in 16 games.

Olson hit .167 with two homers and five RBI. He’ll continue to see time at first base and right field. Manager Bob Melvin said Pinder will be groomed as a super-utility guy who will be tried in the outfield as well as playing all over the infield. He hit .158 with two homers and five RBI.

CAMP BATTLE: : Melvin said he envisions the battle for two open rotation spots to possibly last all the way through the Bay Bridge Series. One of the candidates, Raul Alcantara, started against the Diamondbacks and gave up two runs in 3 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out one.

“He managed it, but I don’t know that that was his best stuff today,” Melvin said.

NOTEWORTHY: Most of the A’s top relievers threw Friday — Ryan Madson, Santiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle and John Axford among them. In his second appearance, Casilla threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout and also started a double play. Melvin liked seeing Doolittle throw his slider multiple times in his scoreless inning, and the manager liked the action on the pitch. Melvin also has been impressed with young catcher Sean Murphy, who was being the plate calling pitches for Doolittle.

“I was impressed that he wasn’t afraid to make him throw his other pitches,” Melvin said of Murphy.

QUOTABLE: A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane had a little fun with Kaval’s willingness to incorporate the ideas he’s getting from fans during his public office hours.

Beane: “I’m waiting for the fan that comes in and goes, ‘Sign Mike Trout’. And Dave goes, ‘Done!’”

ODDS AND ENDS: Ryon Healy homered for the second day in a row, giving him a team-leading four this spring. His 13 RBI are tied for second in the majors. … Madson struck out three in his inning of work. Axford allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings and has issued five walks in 5 1/3 innings total.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

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AP

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.