August 05, 2007

Athletics Nation Day 4: A's Win, Beane and Korach Visit

On Saturday, my wife and I teamed up with dozens of diehard Oakland A's fans from to see the A's take on the Angels, in what's become an annual tradition. Like last year, both the A's general manager, Billy Beane, and the A's lead radio announcer, Ken Korach, joined for an extensive pre-game Question and Answer, and like last year, the A's won by one run with a late-inning comeback. Unlike last year, this time, I got a tad sunburned, and have an incredible "watch tan".

Athletics Nation, best known as "AN", is led by the site's founder, Tyler Bleszinski, an indefatigable sports blogs pioneer behind the Sports Blogs Nation network. Under his watch, the network has amassed several dozen focused sites, and is seeing total visitors and page views that could rival those of in a short time. In addition to Tyler's marriage of the Web with sports fanaticism, he's gained near unprecedented access to the A's GM, players and organization, who recognize the benefits they gain from full transparency to some of the most ardent fans. (Full disclosure: I've helped play a small role with AN as a contributing editor, and also assist with Sactown Royalty, focused on the Sacramento Kings, but have zero financial involvement with SB Nation.)

Yesterday, AN descended on McAfee Coliseum, first to get food from the A's barbecue plaza, and later, we sat down with Beane and Korach to pepper them with questions. Prior to the Q&A, I spoke with Korach on what his legacy would be in a few decades, and how he sees radio as a medium changing relative to sports television broadcasting. In the larger forum, Kristine asked Beane and Korach to name their most liked and most disliked aspects of their respective jobs. Beane said he enjoyed going to the ballpark every day and being paid to be so close to the game, and helping make a successful team. Korach, similarly, said he enjoyed the game, but said he wasn't as big a fan of the travel, which can wear on a person, despite charter flights and 5-star hotel rooms.

I also got Korach to talk about how in a changing media landscape, at times, you can simply take in too much information. He said you can be lost for hours if you start doing research before a game on a computer, so you have to know when to say when, and just rely on reporting the game as it unfolds.

There were also many questions around the health and injuries of players, strategic questions on farmhands in the minor league system, or potential trades, but like a good politician, Beane dodged the big ones, choosing to stay above the fray in relation to recent scuttlebutt in the press around allegations from former A Milton Bradley, and declining to discuss trade rumors involving Joe Blanton.

When the game started, it was a clear pitchers' duel. The A's offense didn't do much, and actually only managed two hits on the day, but made both count, as they prevailed 2-1. Athletics Nation was recognized on the scoreboard, and the many of us who came, sporting nametags, cheered on the home team, as they closed out a win, something not seen enough this season, as they remain below the .500 mark, and a dozen games out. We also had a great time talking with our fellow fans, and meeting some for the first time. It was a great time out, and it was much appreciated that Beane and Korach took time from their very busy schedules to share their day with us. I hope that next year, you can join us for Athletics Nation day 5.

(See last year's summary: Bradley Makes AN Day 3 One to Never Forget)