The Long SummerPosted: June 30, 2011
Since my graduation more than a month and a half ago, I’ve been closely following my hometown baseball team, the Oakland A’s. With that great liberation and the end of scholarly burdens (“homework”), possibly forever, I finally have the time to watch/listen to important sporting events (the NBA Finals!) and catch enough A’s games to know all the players’ names and whether they’re good or sucky.
My love of baseball dates to the pre-conscious years, and that’s reason enough to follow the A’s. But this year feels different for a franchise that has seen tremendous highs and lows, at least in my twenty-three years of memory. The A’s are mired in a state of losing and limbo, with their dismal performance on the field – including an 11 game losing streak and last place in the standings – providing little distraction from the fact that the team has no idea where it will be in 2014 (see Howard Bryant’s ESPN piece). This story has strangely attracted me to the team. Call it a morbid fascination.
They’re a nobody team in nowhere land, facing the prospect of homelessness or another decade in the “O.co” Coliseum, the most decrepit 1 sporting venue east of St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Rays are wrapping up their final seasons at Tropicana Field before moving to new digs. There is no guarantee the A’s will play in a new stadium anytime soon, with the ownership gunning for an essentially suburban ballpark for San José, which happens to be territory they legally ceded to the Giants in the 90’s.
I too am in a state of limbo, facing the prospect of homelessness, having no idea where I’ll be in the fall. Unfortunately I have no corollary for Bud Selig, who is the main villain in the Athletics’ chronicle; I can only blame the lousy economy. This is the first time in my life I’ve wanted my summer “break” to end in June – probably because it isn’t a vacation at all. It’s hard to take a break from doing nothing, celebrate a hard week of not working, or even have a great conversation about all the nothing happening in my life.
Thus I feel an affinity with the A’s, putting on FM 95.7 Sports Radio while I slowly peel out the lawn in the back yard or sort through two decades of accumulations in my closet. Obviously this would be the perfect year for the A’s to pull off a playoff berth or even a World Series victory, with nothing to get in the way of an October of clipping newspaper articles and attending games. But those are remote possibilities, nearing lottery improbabilities as the A’s continue to blaze their way to franchise-lows for home runs and batting average.
The longer this summer drags on without any real developments in my job search, the more I feel like I face the same chances as the A’s playoff hopes. Like the A’s and their AAA call-ups and managerial switch from one Bob (Geren) to another (Melvin), I’m close to exhausting all the obvious strategies, i.e. informational interviews with alumni (why put your name on the list if you won’t respond to emails?), Craigslist, on-campus recruiters, submitting resumés to every single relevant firm I could find with listings for college grads.
With each rejection (please stop regretting to inform, just inform damn it), I feel increasingly that I lack the desired skills (often quantitative) and experience for the positions that I want to get. With each A’s loss, I increasingly suspect that the roster lacks the necessary offensive skills to succeed at the major league level.
At least there’s next season for the A’s. There are no next seasons IN LIFE, SON! 2
Just to rub it in further, the A’s and I also share a dislocation from our home region. The Giants were once the laughing stock of the Bay in their freezing ass-stadium, but they took a gamble and won big with their yuppie park right in downtown SF. Suddenly last year, the bandwagon grew to epic proportions, and an orange and black tide of fake fans rode over Alameda County. The Bay Area is not as big a metro area as L.A., New York, or Chicago, but we can definitely support two MLB teams, if only the residents of the East Bay didn’t flee their homes for China Cove. The Bay Area is now full of new Giants fans, in addition to the other new invader, the hipster.
Where did they all come from? (Rhetorical question: the Midwest.) Did I just miss them when I was a teenager or is this a recent phenomenon? I will slap the next person I meet who tells me they love “Frisco”. I’ll slap them and tell them I love Frisco, Texas too. Gone for five years, I no longer feel this is my town, my turf, my bay. There’s dozens of new shops, restaurants, and bars in Berkeley alone that have sprouted up in the past few years.
Hopefully the A’s and I will be able to look back at this long, limboing summer one day and smile at that strange time in our illustrious histories. If I’m in North America and the A’s still have “Oakland” in front of their names, I damn well am flying home the next time they make the playoffs. Let’s go Oak-land. Just give me a job and a championship and I’ll never ask for anything more. Oh, also, a stadium please.
1 “Decrepit” here is used without normative connotation. I love the Coliseum for its grunge and no-nonsense attitude, and for all my memories of 50,000 person crowds in the early aughts. But it is deteriorating from age and neglect, the top deck is tarped, and most of the concession stands are closed for most games.
2 Well, “next season” probably begins sometime in the fall when I either travel somewhere like Thailand, run away to work for a farm for below-poverty wages as an “intern”, or resign myself to grad school and its attendant five figures of debt.