It feels a little like the first day of school for me. I kinda couldn't sleep last night, so I stayed up late organizing my Twitter feeds, which I suppose is what bloggers do when they're feeling fidgety. So let's just cut to it:
Hi, I'm the new guy here.
My name is Mike Oz and I'm happy to be joining the Big League Stew team today. If my metaphor holds and this is like school, I have some great classmates here. Like them, I plan to bring you entertaining, informative and sometimes off-beat tales from the diamond. I love baseball. And I love the culture of baseball — everything beyond the game: movies, video games, mascots and, of course, baseball cards.
I'm from the Bay Area and grew up riding the BART train to Oakland A's games. I was six during the Bash Brothers era, so that made it impossible not to fall in love with the game. To help you get to know me better, here are nine baseball-centric facts about me, an entire diamond's worth:
1. I once asked Reggie Jackson to autograph a baseball card for me outside an A's game. I'll never forget his response: "I don't smoke. I don't drink. And I don't sign cards."
2. In my previous life as a newspaper reporter, I wrote a story that some Stew readers might remember: the tale of the woman who found a 139-year-old baseball card in a box of antiques and eventually guested on "The Tonight Show."
3. In 1989, I owned a split A's/Giants cap. I still don't hate the Giants.
4. When I played the original "Baseball" game for NES, I kept my own stats.
5. Best game I attended: Game 1 of the 1989 ALCS, when the A's beat the Blue Jays 7-3 with Dave Stewart on the mound. I even got to skip school.
6. Runner-up: I went to the 13-inning 1987 All-Star Game at age 7 and sat next to Thad Bosley's parents.
7. Worst game I attended: Game 4 of the ALDS in 2001, when the A's got pounded by the Yankees, 9-2.
8. I once went to 10 consecutive games for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies and charted every foul ball to figure out the best place to sit to catch one. Related: I've never caught a foul ball.
9. In 1987, I was among a pack of young kids waiting in the rain outside Oakland Coliseum, hoping to get Jose Canseco's autograph. This is back when the players didn't have a private tunnel to leave the stadium. We waited a couple hours. Again, in the rain. Canseco came out, refused to sign autographs and tried to high-tail it to his Porsche. My mom stopped him, yelled at him and convinced him to sign autographs for all of us.
I promise that here on the Stew I'll be posting about more than the Oakland A's of my youth. And now that I'm an adult and know things, I'll probably end up making fun of Canseco every now and again. This is going to be fun.