In Lieu of Opening Day, MLB Gives A's Fans Another Look at 20th Consecutive Win

John Hickey

There is no replacing opening day. Or Opening Day, depending on your view of the annual start to the baseball season.

With Major League Baseball and all sports shut down as a way to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus, there won’t be a 1:07 p.m. opener at the Coliseum pitting the Minnesota Twins against the Oakland A’s.

There will, however, be a hint of what baseball can be at its best. MLB presents “Opening Day at Home,” 30 games, the equivalent of a full schedule across the board, to be available nationally. All games will be streamed on mlb.com as well as through one of MLB’s social media channels, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

For the A’s, that means a revival of the 20 consecutive win in 2002, the Sept. 4 game in the Coliseum. Even if you didn’t see it live or on TV at the time, you’ve probably seen bits of it excerpted in the movie “Moneyball,” about the rise of the Billy Beane way in Oakland. It can be streamed at 3 p.m. (PT) on mlb.com, at athletics.com and Cut4 Twitter.

The experience is intended to invite fans to feel a sense of baseball, of community, common purpose and unity on a day generally given over to a celebration to the return of baseball. There’s no telling when baseball will be back, but MLB will use the platform to stress the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The “Opening Day at Home” will also be used as a platform for MLB’s charity initiatives that are reaching out to vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and additional causes at MLB.com/give.

Not to give too much away, the Sept. 4 game provides one of the most iconic endings in Oakland A’s history. Shortstop Miguel Tejada, who would win the MVP that season, had game-winning hits in Games 18 and 19 against the Twins and Royals, respectively, to get to 19 consecutive wins, at that time matching the American League record set by the 1947 Yankees.

Sept. 4's game  would turn out to be one of the most bizarre games in the half century-plus that Major League Baseball has been played in Oakland. The A’s built up an 11-0 lead early and seemed ready to breeze. But five-run innings in the fourth and eighth saw Kansas City get close, and in the ninth, a two-out single from Luis Alicea off Billy Koch allowed pinch-runner Kit Pellow to score the tying run.

Then, in the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Scott Hatteberg stepped up and hit a one-out walk off homer off Jason Grimsley to secure the 20 consecutive win. 

It's not going to replace real, live baseball, not when you know the outcome. But it will do until something better comes along.

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