Athletics

A's, Rays expecting crazy Coliseum crowd in 2019 AL Wild Card Game

A's, Rays expecting crazy Coliseum crowd in 2019 AL Wild Card Game

OAKLAND -- Wednesday night will mark the A's first home playoff game since 2013, and it's shaping up to be one to remember.

With more than 50,000 tickets already sold, the Coliseum appears on target to sell out -- yes, even Mount Davis.

"It's going to be a football-type crowd," A's manager Bob Melvin surmised. "It can get pretty raucous here, so we're excited about having it here."

Added Oakland outfielder Mark Canha: "I'm very excited. I've heard that this place is extremely special this time of year, so I'm excited to see it. We didn't get to taste it last year, but it will be awesome, I expect."

It's not just the A's who are expecting an electric atmosphere Wednesday night. Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton spent the previous two seasons in the AL West with the Houston Astros, so he knows how loud the Coliseum can get, even when it's not sold out.

“I don’t know if it’s the acoustics here or what," Morton said. "I mean, I know some of the Oakland fans are pretty rowdy. It gets really loud here and it doesn’t really take that many people for it to get loud, to get real loud. So 50,000 people in the stadium, it’s gonna be loud.”

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash was in agreement, suggesting that this could be a unique challenge for his squad.

"This might be different than what we've seen all season long," he said. "We know that there are a lot of Raiders fans in this area. They're a very entertaining bunch and we expect similar with the Oakland fans. They're really, really good fans."

Home-field advantage hasn't always meant much in wild-card games. Even with the Nationals' 4-3 win Tuesday over the Brewers, road teams have won eight of 15 games since the current format began in 2012.

But for the A's, playing at home could make all the difference in the world. Oakland lost wild-card games in 2014 and 2018, both times as the road team. This will be their first try at the Coliseum.

"Our home record is good here," Melvin said. "We have quite a few walk-offs here. We play well at the end of games here. So there are a lot of things to be excited about as far as that goes."

To that point, Oakland's 52-27 record at the Coliseum this season was the fourth-best home record in MLB. On Wednesday, that home-field advantage will elevate to another level.

"It'll be cool," said A's closer Liam Hendriks. "Pound for pound, I think A's fans are the most vocal in the league. If you put a roof on this thing, it'd be coming off."

[RELATED: Why Nats' wild win should remind A's how thin margins are]

A's first baseman Matt Olson certainly agrees with Hendriks.

"It should be awesome. I would think that it's going to be a pretty big crowd, and if it's big, it will be rowdy. So I think we're all excited to see the support that we get."

Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

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Getty Images

Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

One does not easily earn the "Voice of God" moniker, but when it came to Roy Steele, nothing else would do. 

The long-time public address announcer for the A's passed away Thursday at his home in Auburn, leaving behind a tremendous legacy as one of the most recognizable voices in the history of the game. The A's released a team statement acknowledging his vast contributions to the history of the franchise.

"As the PA voice of the A’s for nearly four decades, his booming baritone filled the Coliseum from the Mustache Gang to Billy Ball, the Bash Brothers and Moneyball," the statement said. "Beloved by all, he touched the lives of generations of A’s fans. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."

Steele began his tenure as the A's PA announcer starting in 1968 and remained in the position through 2005, though he did make occasional appearances during the 2007-08 season. He covered over 3,000 A's games, including six World Series and an All-Star Game. Throughout his 38 years at the helm, he only missed five days of work.

[RELATED: A's might have to delay targeted 2023 ballpark opening]

His death comes during a sad week for the Oakland franchise. On Sunday, Chester Farrow, who operated the scoreboard at the Coliseum for over 50 years, passed away at the age of 77.

Whenever MLB resumes, one would imagine both longtime employees will be honored.

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

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Oakland A's

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

The A's have publicly said they plan to open a new ballpark at Oakland's Howard Terminal ahead of the 2023 season.

Those plans could be delayed.

An A's spokesperson admitted to The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Thursday that the team "might have to push back" their targeted opening date. Ostler wrote that "growing political and logistical hurdles," "[coronavirus]-related delays" and a recent federal court ruling could endanger the 2023 target, as could a recent federal court ruling. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Oakland's ban on transporting coal through the city in a two-to-one ruling Tuesday. The Sierra Club told Bay Area News Group that there are plans to file another appeal, as they and community leaders have argued that coal dust would add to West Oakland's polluted air. Howard Terminal, which already requires environmental certification before the A's can ever begin construction, is fewer than two miles downwind from the site where Utah coal companies planned to transport coal prior to the city's now-struck-down ban.

[RELATED: Why Braden vehemently opposes MLB's proposal to players]

A's owner John Fisher, who Forbes currently estimates has a net worth of $2.1 billion, announced in a letter to fans Tuesday that the team would cease paying minor leaguers a weekly $400 stipend starting in June and that the team had "implemented a significant temporary furlough of staff positions, and reduced compensation for staff members who are not furloughed."

The A's previously said in a statement to NBC Sports California earlier this month that they deferred their annual $1.25 million rent payment for use of the Oakland Coliseum because the Coliseum Authority "has been unable to make the Coliseum available for use by the A's" during the coronavirus pandemic." Henry Gardener, the Coliseum Authority's interim executive director, told Bay Area News Group that the A's told the stadium authority they "had no ability to pay."