As far as I can tell, the number One Hundred and Sixty-Two has exactly no significance to anyone except baseball fans. One hundred and sixty-two is perhaps the most important number to baseball fans- one laden with meaning- the magical number of games in a season. Non-baseball fans are quick to say that the season is too long, that it lasts forever, that they can barely sit through one game, let alone 162. Non-baseball fans just don't understand the magic of 162.
This year the A's sucked. Last year the A's sucked. The year before that the A's sucked. One hundred and sixty-two games was a lot of games- but I wouldn't have traded them for anything. I've written a little about this in 2009 and 2011: addiction to baseball is not just about joy, it's also about suffering. The suffering, the bitching and moaning that friends of baseball fans know so well, is all part of the package, of the fun. We get away from real life by living baseball. And then the 162 games are over, and we have to deal with real life, and that is really tough. At least we had that magical season.
But sometimes something amazing happens during those 162 games: a rookie turns into a superstar. A trade works out. Or the crappiest team in baseball somehow is in contention when the season is halfway over. And that crappy teams happens to be YOUR crappy team- your Oakland Athletics. That's what happened this year, and to make a long (162 games long) story short, it all came down, improbably, to that last game of the year. Somehow my roommate had the prescience to know this was going to happen, and bought us amazing tickets. The A's had to do things that there was no way that they could do to win their division, and they did them. And I. Was. There.
I was born in Oakland to a baseball fanatic. I've been going to games since I can remember, and had partial season tickets since I can remember. I remember attending the 1990 World Series with my grandfather, in the back row in the second to last section of Right Field. But I don't remember any game more exciting than Game 162 of 2012. In the 4th inning, the A's were down 5-1. In baseball, this can be a huge deficit, especially in a "pitcher's park" like the coliseum. The A's were about to go down in the bottom of the 4th, and I was about to leave to go to the bathroom when Josh Hamilton, one of baseball's pretty boys dropped the most routine of pop-ups. After that, it was over. The A's couldn't help themselves- they had to win, and the fans had the best time, EVER. I stood up for 3 straight hours, I'm pretty sure. We had fight in spite of Lew Woolf refusing to open the tarps. We had fun even though I'm pretty sure Lew Woolf didn't want us to, even though he wanted to A's to lose so that MLB and everyone else would let them move to San Jose. We had fun because the A's had fun. So I give you some of game 162. Feel the Coliseum rocking. Savor 162.
Crowd begins to anticipate a sweep, and a division title.
Grant Balfour, the mad Aussie, madly puts away the Rangers.
The Crowd Goes Wild!
The A's take a victory lap.
Division Champions, baby.