Buster Olney is on vacation this week, so for the second straight year, guest columnists are writing the lead of his column in his absence. On Sunday, D-backs reliever Brad Ziegler talked about MLBPA head Michael Weiner, who is battling cancer. Today, A's reliever Sean Doolittle discusses what it's like to play for the team synonymous with "Moneyball."
Not every player gets to shine under the bright lights of the Big Apple or the bright sun of Los Angeles. Not every player lands on a roster filled with marquee names with a total price tag that rivals the GDP of several small countries. And not every player gets to play in a baseball cathedral filled with more than 30,000 fans every single night.
As a member of the small-market Oakland Athletics, this is my story.
My first memories of baseball are of the A's. When I was a kid, my father was stationed at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, Calif., for three years and we had season tickets at the Coliseum. My dad would drive my younger brother Ryan (now a pitching prospect in the A's organization) and me the 90 minutes out of the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area to watch the A's: McGwire, Canseco, Henderson, Eckersley, Stewart (and yes, current A's coaches Mike Gallego and Curt Young); it was quite the introduction to baseball.
I can still remember the rush of excitement I would get as we neared the Coliseum on Interstate 880 and I could see the lights of the stadium on the horizon. I appreciate the way things have come full circle for me, and I still get that feeling everyday on my drive to the ballpark.
Of course, back in those days, I dreamed of lacing up the white cleats and playing for the Athletics. But I never could have imagined what goes on behind the scenes and how much fun it is to wear the green and gold.
9:14 a.m. -- I get that feeling as I cross over the hill on I-880 and catch my first glimpse of the O.co basking in the morning summer sun.
9:31 a.m. -- Oakland may be the Sunny Side Of The Bay, but it rained last night and we have to pull the tarp off the field so the infield can dry out for tonight's game. When you share a home with an NFL franchise, sometimes the playing surface needs a little extra TLC.