Mattingly: ‘Oakland is dead’

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is probably happy his team only played in Oakland once this season.

In a story previewing the first Giants-Dodgers series of the season, LA Times writer Steve Dilbeck asked the second-year manager about the atmosphere surrounding the bitter rivalry.

Mattingly praised Giants fans, but took a shot at A’s fans:

“I like that atmosphere. A lot better than Oakland. Oakland is dead. [San Francisco] has some juice.”

Did Lew Wolff slip Mattingly a C-Note in exchange for that quote?

I’ve been to eight A’s games at the Coliseum this year. I wouldn’t necessarily call the atmosphere “dead,” but it’s not as healthy as it once was — or could be.

During the A’s-Dodgers game on Wednesday evening, large empty patches of green seats on the third base side stared back at the players. MLB.com’s official box score pegged the paid attendance at 25,383. Not great, but darn good for the A’s.

I give A’s fans credit for impressive attendance during this homestand. The A’s drew under 20,000 just once during the nine-game stretch against the Padres, Dodgers and Giants, and the entire Giants series was sold out. Granted, quite a few of those fans were wearing orange and black, and the stadium was loud because the A’s fans were trying to drown out the cheers of the Giants fans.

According to Baseball Reference, through 38 home games this season, attendance at the Coliseum is up 1,484 fans per game over last season.

One reason for the increase in attendance could be the way the team is playing. The A’s are 33-35 but they are playing with energy and spunk. They’ve got a lot of young players, and because expectations were so low, they are playing loose and free.

Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami wrote yesterday that this A’s team is interesting. New players are injecting some excitement into home games. Derek Norris made his major league debut on Thursday and made a quick impact, hitting a walk-off home run against the Giants on Sunday.

So I disagree with Donny Baseball. The atmosphere in Oakland isn’t dead. It could be much better, but there is still a decent-sized group of diehards that keep that stadium alive.