With the A's going for the sweep and the Giants rolling out The Freak Sunday, it was a fabulous conclusion to a fine weekend of baseball in the Bay Area.
All the more fabulous if you own the A's and you saw the numbers.
Oakland won on the field, taking all three games from Pittsburgh but was crushed at the gate by the Giants, who lost two of three to Boston despite sending Tim Lincecum to the mound in the finale. A's owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher couldn't have rigged it any better. And they didn't have to do a thing.
The schedule-makers at Major League Baseball did it for them.
It was one of those rare weekends during which both teams were at home, fighting for the fan dollar, but the A's played host to the perennially sub-mediocre Pirates while the Giants got the nationally popular Red Sox.
Not really a fair fight, eh?
High-profile Boston comes to town and the abrasive Red Sox Nation follows, marching directly to 10-year-old AT&T Park, perhaps Major League Baseball's most captivating cathedral. Despite tickets ranging from $38 (for standing room) to $225 (Premium Club), virtual sellouts were guaranteed.
Meanwhile, the anonymous Pirates trudged to the 44-year-old Coliseum, a detested yard long ago described as "unsuitable'' by MLB commissioner Bud Selig. Though plenty of tickets were available for as little as $9, thousands of empty seats were assured.
Selig, of course, is well known in these
This San Francisco-Boston, Oakland-Pittsburgh thing is, as the least, a curious bit of scheduling. More to the point, it activates the brain cells within the mind of any conspiracy theorist.
The Blue Ribbon committee formed and assembled by Selig to determine viable sites for the A's is toiling — or stalling — toward its 16th month. Not a public word has been uttered by the four men — ex-Giants executive Corey Busch, attorney Irwin Raij, MLB executive Bob DuPuy and committee chairman Bob Stanley — given the task of recommending to Major League Baseball and the A's a course of action for Wolff and Fisher.
But a weekend like that which concluded Sunday, fair or not, will try to be sold as evidence the A's can't compete in Oakland. The Giants drew 124,888 (41,620 average), the A's 51,460 (17,153 average).
Consider, too, the weekend of April 23-25. Both teams were in town. The Giants drew the Cardinals, who have a national fan base and this season rank fourth in overall (home and road) attendance, while the A's drew dormant Cleveland, which ranks 23rd.
Maybe there is nothing sinister here. There is, I suppose, the possibility that these are unlucky coincidences for Oakland.
But what if this is a case of dots connecting themselves?
We all know MLB's preferred team in the area and it's not the one in the East Bay that once was considered for contraction. Never mind the four World Series titles won in Oakland, to zero for San Francisco. Or that the A's routinely outdrew the Giants in the 1980s and much of the '90s before the move to AT&T. Or that the Giants have drawn 2 million or more fans in 13 of 52 seasons — only three of 40 years at Candlestick Park, while the A's have done so in 11 of 42.
Even conceding the A's would benefit from a new ballpark, there are reasons to believe both teams can succeed in their current cities. The two teams combined to draw 5.83 million fans in 2003 and pulled in 5.29 as recently as 2005 — the first year under the Wolff-Fisher ownership.
Not that any of these numbers greatly matter, for the agenda in Oakland was set the minute Wolff joined the A's nearly a decade ago under the guise of scouting out potential ballpark sites. A little more than three years later, Wolff and Fisher bought the club and have consistently and effectively made clear their preferred site is Fremont or San Jose.
The Giants have aggressively defended their rights to the San Jose market. Still, Wolff and Fisher have not backed off. They believe, justifiably, that the two sides can come to some kind of agreement, no doubt involving a couple briefcases full of cash.
Sometime between today and 2014, the committee will reveal its findings. We will hear about the great disparity in attendance between the Giants, in general and when the teams go head-to-head.
And we will know, looking back on weekends such as this one, how hard MLB worked to prove its point.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.