On "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" on Thursday, I made the comments, "It's raining lefties in Oakland" and "Oakland is a miserable place to play." Both stem from my own personal memories of the Orioles' past two road trips to Oakland.
Perhaps my perception is a bit skewed; however, the comments are based on fact. First, from a media standpoint, the former Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (now Overstock.com Coliseum) is a miserable place to cover a game. The food in the press dining room is horrendous. I still can't erase memories of eating watery tacos while pregnant last year in the bowels of The Coliseum.
My colleague, Roch Kubatko, already pointed out how much fun it is taking Bay Area public transportation (the BART train) to the games. Getting out after night games, I usually felt safer hitchhiking back to San Francisco with a TV crew member - at least I think it was a TV crew member.
Not to mention, there isn't a more dilapidated stadium in the major leagues. Hitters hate it because there are about three miles of foul territory on either side of the first and third base foul lines.
It always surprised me that according to the book "Money Ball", part of Billy Bean and the A's philosophy is to teach hitters to go deep into the count by fouling off pitches a batter knows he can't hit. At The Coliseum, with those enormous foul territories, chances are if you pop up a foul ball, it's going to be caught.
The good news is, during the O's last seven games at Oakland Coliseum, the average game time is 2:32. Get in and get the heck out.
Besides my own personal bias, Oakland has been a miserable place for the Orioles, as well. Over the past two seasons, the Orioles have played seven games in Oakland compiling a 1-6 record. In 2009, the Birds came to Oakland after losing two out of three in Seattle. The A's swept the three-game series outscoring the Orioles 21-5.
In 2010, the Birds went 1-3 during a four-game series in Oakland. It was April and, at the time, the O's dropped to 2-11 on the year, capping a dismal start to what was a dismal first five months of the season.
My comment about "raining lefties" was validated after some research this morning. Of the Orioles past seven games in Oakland, the A's sent a left-hander to the mound in four of those contests. The Birds' only win against a left-handed starter in Oakland over the past two years came April 18, 2010 against Brett Anderson.
Now, as the O's head into a three-game set over Memorial Day weekend in Oakland, wouldn't you know it - lefties. In the first two games of the series, the A's send southpaws Gio Gonzalez and Josh Outman to the mound.
For the record, the O's are batting .239 against left-handed starters this season. As far as everyday players are concerned, Adam Jones leads the Orioles against left-handed starters this season, batting .313, with four home runs and nine RBIs.
At least the O's do have momentum this time heading to the West Coast. They are riding a five-game winning streak, including Thursday's win over the Royals, who started lefty Jeff Francis.