Dodger Stadium Will Be Different Experience for Athletics, Astros, but Baseball is Still Baseball

The Oakland Athletics leave Saturday for Los Angeles, where their playoff pandemic bubble has them squaring off against the Houston Astros in the best-of-five American League Division Series. It will be played on basically foreign turf to both, Dodger Stadium.
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The Oakland A’s will fly early Saturday afternoon to Los Angeles where they hope to spend most of the next two weeks.

Beginning on Monday in Dodger Stadium, the A’s will play a best-of-five American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, Should Oakland survive that, there would be a best-of-seven AL Championship Series against the winner of the Yankees-Rays series that’s being played down the coast at San Diego’s Petco Park.

The A’s will take not only the 28-man roster that went through the wild card round against the Chicago White Sox, but the rest of the taxi squads and all the families involved. They all have been in a bubble for a week already, and will continue that, players, staff and families being allowed only to be in their hotel, and players and staff only will be at Dodger Stadium.

A’s families got to the be in the stands – socially distanced in the center field luxury suites – for the three games in the Coliseum against the White Sox. While they will be in Southern California, the families will not be allowed in Dodger Stadium.

That would not change unless the A’s get to the World Series, currently set to be held at the neutral site of the Texas Rangers’ home, Globe Life Field, in Arlington, Texas, two weeks hence. The plan then is for a limited number of fans in Globe Life for baseball’s final act of a 2020 season that has been weird beyond compare.

The A’s will be the home team for the five-games-in-five-days series against the Astros, a team Oakland beat seven times in 10 tries during the regular season. What will that mean for the series?

Oakland pitching coach Scott Emerson, talking on a video conference call Friday morning, said he believed the A’s players, who have been in some level of quarantine for the entire season, to be OK with being sealed in the unfamiliar home clubhouse that normally belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A’s closer Liam Hendriks, in fact, made light of it, saying he’d called former A’s closer Blake Treinen, a teammate of 2018-19, to tell him he wanted Treinen’s locker in the home clubhouse.

“When you get to an environment where it’s a neutral site, no one really has the home field advantage other than the home team, you bat second, but the elements are a little bit different in L.A.," Emerson said.

That being said, the playing of postseason on neutral turf is new to baseball, so it will be a learning experience for everyone.

The stadium itself, will take some getting used to. The A’s and Astros will have workout sessions on Sunday in advance of the Monday game. The start time has not been set, and neither side has announced a starting pitcher.

“I think when we were down there the last time, I thought the park played a little small,” Emerson said. “I thought it played kind of like Houston. The next thing you look up and you’re like `How the heck did this ball get out of here?’”

The Dodgers, who have a loaded lineup helped Dodger Stadium average 1.165 home runs per game, ninth in the Major Leagues. That number is roughly double the 0.628 homers seen in the coliseum, which was next-to-last in homer hit, ahead of only Globe Life Field.

Emerson invoked the scene in the classic basketball movie, Hoosiers, where the coach, Gene Hackman, has his players check the dimensions of the arena in which the state championship game was to be played. The idea, to Emerson’s mind, the pitching mound is still 60 feet, six inches from home plate and the bases are each 90 feet apart.

“I think when both teams have to play on the same field, that’s always a reminder to everybody,” Emerson said. “So, go out there. Have some fun. Just go out there and pitcher your game and, you know, get rid of any distractions.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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