OAKLAND -- With a victory over Minnesota here Saturday, the A's magic number was reduced to one. However, Texas also won in Kansas City, so the magical clinching tour will continue at least until Sunday.
That's no big deal. At beautiful O.co Coliseum, there are always other developments to report. Though they aren't as magical.
Yes, we're talking sewage again. Saturday when a pregame downpour hit the ballpark, storm sewer drains in both dugouts couldn't handle the deluge and backed up, flooding the bench areas for a while until the water dissipated. And that was the good news. Because over in the home clubhouse, a toilet in the coaches' dressing room was suffering from, ahem, a reversal of fortune.
Ryan Cook, the A's reliever, described the scene to reporters as "a sewage volcano." Sounds like a SyFy Channel movie, except ... it's real! This is the third time since June that a sewage eruption has befouled a different part of the Coliseum, though none have occurred in spectator or concession areas. At least none that have been made public.
Saturday, rescue crews reported for duty and quickly handled the issue. But after the A's victory, manager Bob Melvin was asked for a plumbing update.
"Everything's OK," Melvin reported, as if he were calmly discussing his starting rotation. "We've got somebody on call for it." So for the most part, the players and staff are taking the sewage with a sense of humor?
"That depends on where it pops up next," Melvin said, deadpan.
Needless to say, if another sewage volcano erupts during the upcoming American League playoffs -- which the A's are all but certain to reach -- it would be a travesty and an embarrassment on the national stage. Can the health department shut down a postseason contest during the seventh inning stretch?
Oakland and Alameda County are responsible for Coliseum upkeep. Both parties should be mortified. Until and when they improve the situation, jokes will only continue to multiply.
In fact, if the A's promotional department wants to highlight the issue, it can create a new scoreboard fan involvement game: Sewage Backup Bingo! Rules would be simple. Fans could receive a card with symbols of each stadium restroom and mark down which one will be flooded next.
The task won't be as easy as it sounds. Followers of the A's do not merely have to know baseball trivia. They also must know their standing-stagnant-water trivia. Because not all of the messes at the Coliseum this season have been created equal. Each has had a unique genesis:
We all know that as an owner, Wolff is frequently his own worst public relations agent. So it was again this week when he told one national publication that the A's home attendance was "depressing" and chided fans for not showing up in greater numbers at the Coliseum. That was extremely bad form. But you do have to wonder if more people are turned off by Wolff's attitude or the Coliseum's toilet malfunctions.
Meanwhile, the Oakland city fathers and mothers continue to receive a strange free pass. Wolff also made an offhand remark this week that he preferred a downtown location for any new ballpark -- yet the East Bay politicians are only spending money to study a new stadium proposal on the current O.co Coliseum site. They haven't made any significant move regarding any potential downtown location. And clearly, they haven't solved the plumbing problem at the A's current venue.
Perhaps those politicians would get more serious if they came out to the Coliseum and played Sewage Backup Bingo. The postseason October edition should be fabulous.
Coliseum sewage problems create mess. Story at www.mercurynews.com/athletics