OAKLAND, Calif. -- Major League Baseball is officially back.
The A's and Mariners opened the regular season Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Tokyo, Japan. Unfortunately, that translated to 2:30 a.m. in California, but it didn't stop dozens of A's fans of all ages from cheering on their team at the official watch party at Mad Oak Bar 'n' Yard in Oakland.
I decided if I couldn't be in Japan for the game, then this was the next best thing. Here's my timeline of a wild night/morning.
It's probably my first time ever walking into a bar at two in the morning, rather than leaving. Despite the rain outside, there's already a pretty good crowd on hand -- probably about 30 people.
I chat with Will MacNeil (A.K.A. Right Field Will), asking if he had to convince his A's crew to stay up all night for this game. He looks at me like I'm crazy.
"No convincing at all. We're Oakland A's fans. We love our team. It's the start of the season. We've got to do it."
The right field drums arrive at the bar. Now close to 40 people here. The bar isn't allowed to serve alcohol, but they are serving food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Some fans have stayed up all night. Others tried to catch some sleep before the game. One kid has to go to school right after the game!
Jean Richardson has to work but got permission to go in late. "I asked my boss and he looked at me like I was insane," she laughs. "He's like, 'You're going to watch a baseball game at 2:30 in the morning?' Just to be here with all the other A's fans, it's exciting. It's fabulous."
First pitch is just moments away and we get our first "Let's go Oakland" chant, accompanied by drums. Am I at the Coliseum?
Stephen Piscotty provides the first run of the MLB season with a blast to dead center field and the Mad Oak crowd erupts. Pandemonium. I've seriously got to start sitting in the bleachers.
It's been a rough start for new A's catcher Nick Hundley. He's surrendered a pair of wild pitches and grounded into a double play in the first two innings. After allowing a stolen base in the third, a fan yells, "Bring back Jonathan Lucroy!"
After breezing through the first two innings, Mike Fiers surrenders a grand slam to Domingo Santana and suddenly it's 5-2 Mariners. I've never heard a bar this silent.
Khris Davis wakes us up with a two-run shot, his first (and definitely not last) home run of the season. Mad Oak is alive once again.
Ryan Dull throws a pitch 140 miles per hour. Wait, that doesn't sound right. That would be a record, wouldn't it? Oh right, kilometers per hour. It's late. Or is it early? I'm tired.
Tim Beckham absolutely destroys a baseball to left field for a two-run homer. Even more impressive is his bat flip. The fans at Mad Oak are okay with it. Respect.
I reach the realization that it's been two hours and the game is only halfway over...
I cave and order a basket of fries. Delicious.
Yawns are spreading around the bar. I still don't understand how yawns are contagious, but they are.
The rain picks up outside and the TV signal cuts out momentarily. The bar boos. The game comes back on. Cheers. Ramon Laureano strikes out. Boos.
Matt Chapman picks up right where he left off last year with a three-run homer to right and the A's cut the lead to 9-7. Mad Oak gets its third wind.
Josh Phegley is now in the game at catcher and throws out Beckham attempting to steal. A fan shouts, "Play Phegley more!"
The television broadcast shows a replay of Santana's grand slam with the Japanese play-by-play. The Mad Oak fans are not amused. "BORING!"
Lou Trivino strikes out the side in the top of the ninth. Man, he is still absolutely filthy.
Former Giant Hunter Strickland comes in to try and close it out for the Mariners. A's fans cheer when they realize who it is, expecting a rally.
Strickland gets the last laugh, striking out Chapman to end the game. Am I delirious or do the Seattle Mariners have the best record in baseball?
Oh well. Let's do it 161 more times. Happy baseball season, everyone!