There is no timing quite like bad timing.
And so it was for A’s managing general partner Lew Wolff, who took to the pages of USA Today Tuesday to talk about the low turnstile count at the Oakland Coliseum on the same night the A’s surpassed last year’s attendance total of 1.665 million.
It was the fourth year running that the A’s had registered an increase in yearly attendance, and in the wake of a 2-1 walkoff win over the Angels, the A’s still have five home games left in which to build on that total.
Still, the case can easily be made that improved attendance is not the same as good attendance. Oakland is ninth in the American League in attendance and 23rd overall in the big leagues.
“There is something wrong here,’’ Wolff told the paper. “You would think that with our lead, people would want to come out, count down the magic number, and all that stuff.
“Even if you’re not a loyal fan, you would think this time of year, where the teams are in the standings, and where every game means something, people would come out.’’
Wolff got clobbered on Twitter by fans, but as he explained to the Bay Area News Group, “I’m not disappointed in the fans. I’d just like to see us have more of them.’’
The A’s will see more of them, and soon. Wolff and his management team found out that the first and second decks of the Coliseum sold out for the first round of the playoffs in two hours. So they decided to open the third deck by removing the tarps that cover those seats – although not those in center field’s Mount Davis.
“When the place is full and the excitement level is up, it helps the players,’’ Wolff said.
The A’s are 89-63 and have a 6½-game lead over second place Texas in the West. The A’s magic number is six, meaning any combination of A’s wins or Rangers losses would see the A’s win a second consecutive West title.
“That’s not too bad for any ownership group,’’ Wolff said. “I don’t know what more we can do. Is it a matter of the venue?’’
It could be, in part. There was another Coliseum sewage leak, a common occurrence, Tuesday, this one in the A’s dugout.
And for more than half a decade there has been the thought that the A’s would eventually move to San Jose with the Coliseum well into its fifth decade. The only thing standing between the club and that move is Commissioner Bud Selig and the implacable resistance of the San Francisco Giants, who claim San Jose as their own.
“There’s no doubt that whether it is in San Jose or elsewhere, we need a new facility,’’ Wolff said. “Are the fans staying away because of the facility? I don’t think so. But I don’t know.
“What I know is that this is an exciting team. We played and won an exciting game tonight. It would have been nice to have more fans there. This isn’t a criticism of the fans. We’d like to know what the depth of the fan base is.’’
–The game-winning hit by Josh Donaldson didn’t come without some physical discomfort.
First there were the two pies, one carried in each hand, from Josh Reddick, who squished them onto Donaldson’s face in, as the Oakland tradition goes, the middle of a post-game television interview. And moments later Donaldson was awash when a couple of his teammates dumped the remainder of the Gatorade cooler on him even as he was wiping the celebratory pies off.
“That was pretty good form,’’ Reddick said of his ability to sprint with two pies and mash Donaldson with each without spilling a drop. “It’d been a while, I know that.’’
It wouldn’t have been out of place for someone to hit Reddick with a pie. Without his headlong diving catch of a sinking liner from Mark Trumbo in the sixth inning, “the game might have been entirely different,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.
–Sonny Gray was long since out of the game when Donaldson brought it to a close, but if it wasn’t for the rookie coming up big in the fifth inning, the game might never turned out quite different.
The fifth opened with Andrew Romine delivering a single for the Angels. He took third on Howie Kendricks’ one-out hit, Gray struck out Trout with some classic high heat, then got Trumbo to fly out, ending the inning.
“If you have the stuff that sonny has, you’re going to have confidence in yourself,’’ Melvin said. “He threw a good fastball by (Trout) in the zone.’’
Trout had driven in the only Angels’ run with a solo homer, his 25th, off Gray in the first.