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Andy Pettitte (1–0, 1.64) vs. Rich Harden (1–1, 1.38)

Andy Pettitte and Rich Harden will lock horns in about five hours for the rubber game of this three-game set. There isn’t much more I can say about these teams. The past two games were thrilling, exhausting, gut-wrenching and satisfying. You can’t ask for much more than two tightly-contested games, both of which weren’t decided until extra innings.

Today’s game features easily the best pitching matchup of the series. Pettitte seems to have found his groove, and Rich Harden still hasn’t succumbed to the injury bug, which every A’s fan knows is coming.

In lieu of the usual breakdown of today’s game, I’d like to talk about the Oakland fans, because I went to a playoff game at the Oakland McAffee Coliseum last year, and I have to say, I was impressed. Granted, it was a playoff game, and I wasn’t exactly in a luxury box, so you’d expect the fans to be diehard, and knowledgeable, but even with raised expectations, I was blown away.

We picked up tickets for a hair over face value in the parking lot before the game, found our seats just before the first pitch, and I was treated to nine innings of real baseball talk. Everyone knew everything about their team, major and minor leagues. They were into the game, they picked up on the nuances, the heckled Morneau and Mauer mercilessly. It was a sight to behold.

For some of you, this isn’t a shock. This is what it’s supposed to be like when you go to a baseball game. Unfortunately, at least for Yankee fans, this is no longer the norm, unless you sit in the bleachers, at the Stadium. It’s a sad decision you have to make when you go to a Yanks game. You can sit in the “cheap seats” and surround yourself with real fans, sacrificing the actual view of the game. Or, you can spring for good seats, watch the investment bankers sitting in corporate seats around you stroll in for the top of the third, spend the whole game on their BlackBerry’s, and leave during the seventh inning stretch.

There’s nothing more disappointing than paying an arm and a leg for a ticket only to listen to the guy next to you yuck it up with some out-of-town client making comments like “Who’s Melky Cabrera?” Last year, a banker seated next to me read the paper during the entire game. I don’t know when the transition happened, when I was a kid there were about 15,000 people at every Yankee game, but they all cared. Today, there are 55,000 and still, only about 15,000 give a crap. Or know enough to clap when someone moves a runner over to third with a ground out. I shudder to think what it’s going to be like when the new Yankee Stadium opens with fewer seats, more luxury boxes and steeper prices. (Good luck finding a stranger to high-five when Jeter hits a bomb).

I have to admit, going to that game in Oakland made me jealous. It made me think I could actually live out there. Season tickets, real fans. The only minor drawback being a contact high from the pungent cloud of marijuana smoke wafting through the stands. Still, it was a great day.

So, yes. I’m officially jealous of all the A’s fans who will roll out of bed, pull on a throwback jersey, an orange wig, or “Raider Nation” shoulder pads and head to the Coliseum today. They’re going to have a blast, and even if their team loses, (which I think it will) good times will still be had by all on the BART ride home.

A’s blogs: Catfish Stew, Athletics Nation, Athletic Supporters

by Brian on Apr 15 2007