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For years, every Wednesday home game for the Oakland Athletics has been a discount ticket opportunity. While the price doubled a few years back, and seats are now only available in the furthest reaches of the outfield, Two Dolla Wednesday and its One Dolla hot dogs remain the best deal in baseball. Much like the Masters, Two Dolla Wednesday is a tradition unlike any other. It's a tradition of drunkeness, of erratic defensive play, of smuggled alcohol, and of the ill-advised Rally Mustard plan, all of which may be coming to an end this evening. Let's look back on the year that was in Two Dolla Wednesday baseball.

April 19 - Detroit 11, Oakland 4.
A's record: 7-8.

The A's lost to Detroit lefthander Kenny Rogers, who upped his career record to an astonishing 24-4 at the Athletics' home ballpark. Zembla predicted the A's would have trouble besting Rogers, due to his unique bond with the ballpark.

Kenny Rogers:

I once had a rib removed to improve my circulation

McAfee Coliseum:

If someone takes your picture, there'll be an altercation


And we ride it together, uh huh
Making A's hitters suffer, uh huh

At the time, the outcome looked like a disaster. Losing a series to the hapless Tigers was a terrible sign. If they couldn't beat a crappy team like Detroit, what hope did the A's have of beating the real contenders in the American League, like Toronto and Cleveland? The Tigers went to 8-7 on the season, and I figured it was the last time they'd see the good side of .500 in 2006. I am an excellent baseball prognosticator.

Economic note: The two-dollar ticket price worked out to 50 cents for each Oakland error.

May 3 - Cleveland 14, Oakland 3.
A's record: 14-13.

Surely, this was the first step in the Indians' inexorable march to the AL Central crown. The loss snapped a five-game Oakland win streak, and the team went on to lose their next three series. Things looked bleak for Oakland, and more importantly, they were down 25-7 on aggregate for Two Dolla Wednesdays.

Kiko Calero gave up four runs, 20% of his entire season's total, in just one-third of an inning. Joe Kennedy gave up nearly half of his year's earned runs in just one-third of an inning. Throw out this game, and Calero would have an ERA of 2.72, and Kennedy an ERA of 1.28.

My three highlights:

1. Five guys ran around with "GO A'S" painted on their chests. Yes, one guy had to be the apostrophe.
2. Of Nick Swisher, one fan said, "Best hitter, worst beard."
3. Two of my friends attended wearing customized A's t-shirts. One said "Marco" on the back, while the other said "Scutaro". I am going to venture that these are the only customized Marco Scutaro partner t-shirts in existence.

Economic note: Fans paid 25 cents for each Oakland hit.

May 17 - Oakland 7, Seattle 2.
A's record: 20-19.

The A's got their first Two Dolla victory of the year. Barry Zito, the official pitcher of Two Dolla Wednesday, handled the Mariners with ease. It was almost too easy, as if the A's had some sort of insurmountable psychological advantage over the Mariners. This was their fifth consecutive win over Seattle, but the law of averages says Seattle would turn the tide eventually. Right?

It was a rough game for baserunning: two pickoffs, and three runners thrown out at home. Longtime fans could take comfort that the A's were reverting back to historical form: strong pitching, lots of walks, and piss-poor baserunning. I ate five hot dogs.

Economic note: One dollar per sacrifice fly.

June 14 - Oakland 7, Seattle 2.
A's record: 34-31.

A bit of Two Dolla Deja Vu for the A's, as they again handled Seattle on a discount baseball Wednesday. It was Oakland's sixth consecutive victory, and their eighth win in a row over Seattle. The overcast, rainy day did little to make the Mariners feel at home this evening, nor did it diminish the Two Dolla crowd. Surely, Seattle was due for victory against Oakland sometime soon.

Bobby Kielty had two hits for the third Two Dolla Wednesday in a row, making him this year's Marco Scutaro, a low-priced player who raises his game to new heights during low-priced games. Perhaps the discount yellow sun of Two Dolla Wednesday gives Kielty unlimited powers.

Economic note: In honor of Two Dolla Wednesday, I drank two beers, which cost seven-and-a-half times as much as my tickets.

(Also see A's vs. Tigers, 4/19/06.)

On May 3rd, the Cleveland Indians were in Oakland, and the discount baseball was in full force. As a tribute to the respectful and completely not-offensive mascot of the Cleveland baseballers, the A's made many seats available for two dollars - little more than the price of a handful of beads. Even Chief Joseph would think this was an unfair deal!

Though our tickets gave us a reservation, we were seated behind the left field foul pole - the least fertile land in the ballpark. It's weird. Luckily, hot dogs were still only a dollar, and they are guaranteed to be 100% smallpox-free. Use of firewater and peace pipes appeared to be abundant throughout the stadium. Considering their defense, there might have been some illicit activity in the Oakland clubhouse as well.

I scalped our extra tickets fairly easily before the game started. My last sale was stopped by security, so I simply gave the guy his ticket for free. After I entered the stadium, free ticket guy chased me down and handed me two bucks.

First Inning

The A's bungle a few ground balls, but only give up one run. Meanwhile, Nevin and I make it through the shortest hot dog line in recent Two Dolla memory and get back to our seats before the A's finish hitting.

Second Inning

Bobbly Kielty has gone 0-for-April. He gets his first hit off the season, and the crowd erupts in sarcastic applause. This won't be the last time this happens.

Jeff speculates about the elaborate lawnmower pattern in the outfield grass. What must the groundskeeper's lawn at home look like? Does he devote hours to keeping it at major league quality? Perhaps he is like an absentee father to the lawn, spending too much time at work and neglecting his grass. I like to think that the groundskeeper has a miniature riding mower, so he can do the same fancy pattern on a much smaller scale.

Third Inning

The A's continue to make defensive gaffes, playing as if they paid only two dollars for their gloves. Amazingly, the official scorer has not assigned an error yet. Bobby Kielty misplays an RBI single into a triple, and I start to heckle the official scorer. The A's are down 4-0, and down 15-4 on Two Dolla Aggregate.

In the bottom of the inning, Frank Thomas hits a sacrifice fly before Bobby Crosby homers to cut the lead to one run. Though the Big Hurt only delivered with a Big Productive Out, and he's hitting below .200 on the year, Paul observes that, "No matter what Thomas is hitting, [DH Frank Thomas] just sounds so much better than, "Designated Hitter, Scott Hatteberg."

The White Dot wins Dot Racing in a disgraceful performance, knocking Red Dot off-balance and out of contention in the home stretch. For shame, White Dot.

Fourth Inning

BART is the sponsor of Two Dolla Wednesday. Officially it's "Double Play Wednesday", but that name hits a little close to home when Jason Kendall is in the everyday lineup. There's an animated BART "race" where BART rips automotive transit for being expensive an inefficient. Kettle, meet teapot. The pormtion's use of "Come On, Ride the Train" is predictably dated, though it's nice to see that someone's helping keep the children of the Quad City DJs in college. Interestingly, the winner of the race is not the animated public transit-loving commuters, but rather BART itself.

Gabe wants to get a Cap'n Morgan's shaker, but not until the A's take the lead. Five shirtless guys jog around the cheap seats. They have painted their chests to spell out, "GO A'S". Yes, one guy had to be the apostrophe. The apostrophe is also backward on his chest, so it looks like there's an accent mark on the "A", as if he didn't want people to read their chests as "GO AHHHHHS".

Fifth Inning

The A's use some kind of technical enhancement when they do the Smile Cam between innings. I think it's supposed to make the fans' teethy look extra gleamingly white, but the artificial glow looks like they've been brushing their teeth with radioactive waste.

What is the lowest-quality company or product to have a stadium ad at McAfee Coliseum? Valero, the discount gas station, and the mysterious "Shad" (I think Shad does investments) are both obscure sponsors, but not as obscure as

Sixth Inning

Cleveland scores another run thanks to some shoddy Oakland defense. The game has been a montage of anti-Web Gems - Web Cubic Zirconiums. Even the fans aren't catching foul balls.

Was Frank Thomas actually issued an A's cap, or did they just give him a batting helmet?

Seventh Inning

This inning lasts forever. The Indians score nine runs and the A's use three pitchers. Speaking of pitchers, Gabe amended his promise to get a Cap'n Morgan's Shaker either if the A's took the lead or fell behind by more than ten runs. Twenty minutes into the top of the seventh, Casey Blake sent Gabe scurrying to the booze line with a three-run homer, making it 14-3. Cleveland did have the decency to put the game away just before alcohol sales were cut off, allowing A's fans to drink away the memory of that inning.

Sarcastic cheers come out for the struggling pitchers, with whoops for called strikes, or for successfully catching return throws from the catcher. It's interesting that the A's still throw the ball around the horn after a strikeout, even down by more than ten runs. The inning finally ends on a fly ball to center. Mark Kotsay attempts to toss the ball to a fan, but misses by roughly thirty feet. The ball lands in an abandoned area of the center field batter's eye, and Kotsay jogs in looking genuinely ashamed of himself.

Eighth Inning

Paul nails the holy trinity of scoreboard gambling, successfully wagering on the Cap Dance, Dot Racing, and Guess the Attendance. It is really weird to watch Guess the Attendance after 90% of the fans have left in disgust. Of the official 18,242 paid attendees, maybe 1,500 are left.

Two Dolla Hero Marco Scutaro lines up in left field, though sadly he will not bat. Nick Swisher moves to center, meaning that the A's have a second baseman and first baseman playing left and center field, respectively. Swisher can be summed up with an overheard comment from a few rows back: "Swisher: Best hitter, worst beard."

Ninth Inning

We speculate as to the next stage in the evolution of Two Dolla Wednesday. This year, management closed the third deck, sending Two Dolla Wednesday to the outfield. Tarping off the upper deck is the baseball stadium version of trimming your pubes; it's supposed to help things seem more intimate, but in reality, they do it hoping it'll make the crowd look bigger.

Would the A's move the discount seats to an even smaller area next year? We thought the change might be to limit the promotion to individual seats, randomly scattered around the ballpark. Sure, you're not with your friends, but shouldn't you be focusing less on conversation and more on the game?

Ninth Inning

Bobby Kielty's two-out single raises his batting average 122 points. Gabe struggles to finish his drink. The A's lose.

On the first Two Dolla Wednesday, the A's gave up 11 runs. This time, they're actually down by 11 runs. It can't get much worse, can it? If you're curious, the next Two Dolla Wenesday is May 17, 2006, versus the Seattle Mariners.

Two Dolla Wednesday kicked off this week in Oakland, at the newly-intimate McAfee Coliseum. To reduce seating capacity and increase demand for tickets, the A's have covered the entire third deck in large green tarpaulins. It looks ridiculous. It certainly didn't seem to boost attendance for this game. The two-dollar section was packed, whereas most of the lower deck was empty. Guess the Attendance claimed there were 18,309 people at the game, which was nothing but a filthy lie. (For more, check out Baseball's War on the Cheap Seats, from Slate.) All I can say is, the Giants would have also sold ad space on the tarps.

As predicted by me, Kenny Rogers dominated the A's on the mound, and batted balls dominated Oakland third baseman Antonio Perez. It ended up being 11-4, and even that score is deceptively close. The A's didn't have a hit between the second and eighth innings. They committed four errors, and with a less generous official scorer, it could have been six. Carlos Guillen of the Tigers did his best to even things up, committing two throwing errors of his own, but it wasn't enough to keep the game competitive. A seven-run loss, seven combined errors for the team, and prominent roles for Brad Halsey, Kirk Saarloos, and Alexis Gomez mean this was far from a classic baseball contest. Still, when the game lets you down, you make your own highlights.

Non-Scalping Scalping

We had a bunch of extra tickets for this game, so I tried to sell the extras before we went in. I didn't care about turning a profit; I just wanted to make the two dollars back. However, it is strange to sell tickets for face-value in an area full of scalpers, and even stranger when that face value is only two bucks. People were instantly suspicious of such a low price, eyeing me like a wary Woody Harrelson wondering why Robert Redford invited him to play poker.

I found one motley group that bought five of my tickets, though they did not trust me at all, and only one of them spoke. I sold the last one to a lone guy, who paid me with a $50 bill. Luckily, I had $47 in change, and he was cool with that. That will be important later.

Hot Guys

"You should sell the extra seats to hot guys," suggested Cassie.

"I did...the opposite of that," I said.

Jason Kendall's Talents

Catcher Jason Kendall led off for Oakland. I told everyone he was really good at taking pitches and grounding to short (to be fair, he hit a double later). Based on his Jumbotron photo, Meli posited that he was also good at stalking. Jason Kendall has crazy eyes.


The World Baseball Classic

Mike B. attended the final round of the World Baseball Classic, and scored every game. Which game was the toughest to score? Korea-Japan, because Korea has five Lees and three Kims. In other scorecard news, the guy in front of us, who was painstakingly scoring the game, got frustrated and left in the top of the eighth, presumably crumpling his scorecard in rage as he walked out.

Milton Bradley

The A's have a new right fielder, former Dodger Milton Bradley. Bradley has one of the silliest names in sports, but it is deceptively difficult for wisecracks. That is because it requires a dorkish level of attention to the board game industry order so as not to make a mistake, and say he's got a Monopoly on craziness, or that he's among the league leaders in several important offensive Scattergories. Because those are Parker Brothers games, and even though they're both owned by Mattel, screwing this up is a sign of lazy, lazy wisecracking.

Bobby Kielty

Many Two Dolla enthusiasts are big fans of Oakland outfielder Bobby Kielty. He's especially popular among Ginger Kids, because of his pale skin and bright orange hair. Meli thinks he looks like Matt. After Kielty's throw from shallow left field didn't even reach the infield dirt, Meli concluded that Kielty also throws like Matt, which I feel is a little unfair to Matt.

John Olerud's Favorite Ballpark Snacks

Cassie: Hey, they serve ice cream in helmets here.

Sean: Yup. Those mini batting helemts are great.

Cassie: At Dodger Stadium, they serve french fries in the batting helmets, and so after you're done they're all salty and greasy.

Sean: That sucks. Because then it's gross, and you don't even want to bring it home. And then you can't balance the mini-helmet on top of your head and pretend to be a giant.


Sean: Um, not that I ever did that...

Hoisted By My Own Petard

As always, the scoreboard games at Two Dolla Wednesday were marked by heavy One Dolla gambling. I lost at the Cap Dance (we bet on left/center/right before it even starts, so we don't have to bother following the ball), and that was fine. Then, the worthless, lazy Red Dot completely choked down the stretch, and I lost another dollar. I reached into my wallet to pay off the winner, and had a horrible realization.

"Sorry, I don't have a dollar," I said. "All I have is a fifty."

Immediately, everyone turned on me, reciting my own stand-up material back to me:

"Oh, all I have is a fifty? Anyone have $49 in change?"
"Sean, did you bring any gold doubloons to the game?"
"Maybe we can bet a sack of emeralds on 'Guess the Attendance', huh, Sean?"

I was hoisted by my own, hilarious petard. And then Antonio Perez threw the ball into right field.

two dolla wednesday: the countdown

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Spring is in the air. Birds are singing, the sun is shining for two hours a day, and the leather daddies in my neighborhood are taking the assless chaps out of storage. Still, it's not officially spring until the Oakland Athletics are playing baseball, and the fans are watching for just two dollars. The waiting ends next Wednesday, April 19th.

One quirk of the discount baseball plan is that not every Wednesday is a Two Dolla Wednesday. Games against the Giants, Yankees, and Red Sox are always full price, regardless of what weekday they happen to occur. This is because, unlike the A's, these teams have an actual fan base outside of the immediate area, though I like to think the refusal to give discounts is Oakland's tribute to the salary excesses of Boston and New York. A mediocre seat at the Plaza Outfield level might not be worth $14, but Jason Giambi's not worth $20 million per year either.

The second Wednesday game of the season, and first Two Dolla Wednesday, features the visiting Detroit Tigers, a team whose mascot is far more fearsome than its players. The cameraman-shoving, non-chicken-roasting Kenny Rogers takes the hill for Detroit, in a stadium where he has been nearly unbeatable. Rogers has a career record of 23-4 when he pitches in Oakland. Maybe the ugliness of the ballpark appeals to the ugliness in Kenny's soul. Or maybe it's an even deeper connection between Kenny and the McAfee Coliseum.

Kenny Rogers:

Baby, when I met you I was on the Rangers
The Oakland A's lineup was fraught with danger
When I stood on that mound, there was something going on

McAfee Coliseum:

You do something in here that I can't explain
The way you throw that changeup makes right-handers insane
Every single start, you got something going on

Kenny Rogers:

I once had a rib removed to improve my circulation

McAfee Coliseum:

If someone takes your picture, there'll be an altercation


And we ride it together, uh huh
Making A's hitters suffer, uh huh

Islands in the stream, that is what we are
23 and 4, how can we be wrong?
Sail away with me
To the West Side Club
And we rely on each other, uh huh
A jackass and a concrete structure, uh huh

Game time is 7:05, the hot dogs are a dollar, and the rendezvous point is the pedestrian ramp from BART. This could be the year for the real thing, so don't miss it.

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