OAKLAND -- One thing that happens when you're a sports columnist covering a big event is that radio stations from around the country call you for "flavor" and "mood" and "analysis." Actually, not just from around the country. From around the continent. I've had a few calls from Canada, too.
If it fits into my schedule and doesn't interfere with my writing duties, always try to pick up the phone and appear -- and of course, mention mercurynews.com at every opportunity. I figure it's a chance to plug my favorite online sports section.
But I must confess, I've been a lousy guest the last few days on the dozen or so shows I've done. Usually, the first question from the talk show host is: "What's going on with the A's out there?"
My answer: "I have no idea."
And then I do my best to muddle my way through. I must say, of all the teams I've covered in the Bay Area over the past 27 years, this one has got me the most puzzled. The lineup, filled with largely unfamiliar names to the rest of the nation, could be the waiting list at the DMV. "Mr. Seth Smith, your turn."
Another popular question: "What's the difference between games in Oakland and games in San Francisco? Between A's fans and Giants' fans."
That one, I can handle better.
"A lot of Giants fans go to games at AT&T Park as if they are taking a shopping trip to the mall or going out for dinner. Most A's fans go to games at O.co Coliseum to watch baseball. If the O.co Coliseum were a shopping mall, it would be that one the Blues Brothers drove their car through in the movie, with no repairs."
And finally from the hosts: "Is anyone in the Bay Area getting any work done right now? Is Thursday going to be the biggest sports day in Northern California ever?"
My answer: "Pro football is still the top sport around here. The last time the Raiders and 49ers made the playoffs in the same year, 2002, the fervor was far more . . . um, fervent. But with baseball, games every day, it's like momentum is building to . . . something. Like in 1989."
Some of the younger hosts, at that point, ask what happened in 1989. So the older guest -- me -- sets them straight.
I don't think I've seen any one day exactly like this Thursday. The A's and Giants have been in the playoffs in the same year five times before. But they've never followed the same script like this -- losing the first two games in a best-of-five, then rallying to win the next two and set up a win-or-go-home situation for both within the same 24 hour period.
I know this much: It never happens in Canada.