Tag Archives: Baseball

Enjoying the Amazin A’s

I think I’m still on a high of sorts after going to all three games of the sweep against Texas that sealed the AL west crown. This post summed up how I think all the A’s fans out there felt when they won. I planned to go to the first two games, but told myself if they won the first two, I’d go to the final game. I haven’t seen the crowd that fired up (or that many people at the coliseum) since I went to a playoff game back in the mid-2000’s. I didn’t lose my mind like this guy, but rest assured I was in a state of delirium like everyone else out there during the sweep.

All I know is this year was much more special than any season I’ve watched including those powerful late 80’s teams. There’s something that makes it exponentially more fulfilling when you come out of nowhere to win opposed to when your supposed to win. Is it sustainable in the playoffs? Maybe, maybe not, but the ride they took us on this year was more than amazing regardless of the final results. I can’t wait for these guys to get some of the coverage they deserve since all the national TV shows just talk about Baltimore’s magical season. I even heard one guy saying he didn’t even consider Melvin for the AL manager of the year until they won on Wednesday. REALLY, not even a consideration until Wednesday!?! Have you been watching them at all!?! I mean didn’t they play the AL East and dominate them in 46 games? If you haven’t seen them play this year, you are missing out. There’s so many story lines and interesting facts with this team I don’t even know what direction to go for this post, so I decided to link you to some random posts and videos that I thought were pretty cool, and maybe it will explain some stuff when you watch their home games in the ALDS.

Here’s a fake mini script of the Moneyball II that I actually did laugh out loud while reading, which doesn’t happen often when I’m by myself. I guess I only laughed because the whole thing represents the way A’s fans thought Beane put this team together at the beginning of the year. Speaking of Billy Beane, I never lost faith in the guy, he had a 10 year pass after those early to mid 2000 teams.

Here’s 10 stories about A’s players that you might not know about unless you’ve followed this team. My personal favorite is that Dan Straily and AJ Griffin were slanging shoes last year as part time jobs in the off season, and are now key contributors to the magical season. If you want some cool stats, check out Dubsism’s latest post. He broke down spending per win and much more that I haven’t seen anyone else break down, and why spending doesn’t always equal winning. The Bleacher Report actually did a pretty good one on the path the A’s have taken through the season, although it could easily be twice as long.

I know a lot of people say A’s fans are weak, and they don’t show up to games, but in all fairness there’s a lot of people who hate owner Lew Wolffe because he doesn’t want to stay in Oakland. Some don’t go because the coliseum is in the ghetto, and if you make a wrong turn leaving you are ending up in a scary area. Can’t say I blame them, but the ones that do show up are rabid fans and you rarely see band wagoners there like at Giants games. I didn’t go nearly as much as I should’ve this year, but I tried to make up for it the last two months, and haven’t regretted going to any of their games.

The Bernie Lean has taken over the coliseum. They play it every game between an inning or two. It actually gets more people out of their seats than “Call Me Maybe”. The players bust out Bernie Leans’ during the game after a big play or hit, and sometimes in the clubhouse celebrations.

It actually started with this super ghetto version of Weekend at Bernies by ISA. The song came on in the clubhouse from someone’s Ipod, and Inge liked it thought it was so ridiculously funny he made it his walk up song. Now Coco has the Bernie walk up song with Inge out for the year to keep the tradition going.

The Balfour Rage is pretty fun. Not only are you fired up for the last three outs when the closer comes in, but you get to join in a stadium wide mosh pit. It beats the hell out of the rally monkey! I honestly think the crowd fires up Balfour enough to put a couple extra MPH on his pitches. It’s the perfect intro to a guy that cusses in his glove all inning in Australian. Without spewing any stats in this post I hope it gives you an idea of the remarkable experience this has been for the fans, even if you live on the east coast and have been asleep when they’re playing.

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A’s Stand Pat

Last night I went to the A’s vs. Rays 5 hour marathon that ended in a surprising 12th walk off win for the A’s. The highlight other than the walk off sac fly was either seeing Cespedes fly around the bases or the seemingly standard outfield assist from Reddick. As the innings rolled along was thinking about the good things that come from having a dive park. One, you never have to worry about a game being sold out (except against the Giants), and two, you can get in for under $15 and sit in pretty good seats or at least move to some. Also, the fans that go to the game seem genuinely into the game opposed to the other parks I’ve been to where cell phones seem to rule the stands.

Anyways, bear with me, because sometimes I stray on my A’s posts due to extreme excitement. I wasn’t disappointed to see the A’s not make any moves at the deadline. Even though the Angels and Rangers made big splashes with their pitching acquisitions of Greinke and Dempster. In Beane we trust, and if he didn’t see the right deal for the A’s there probably wasn’t one. Plus the A’s already made their moves in June right around the time they started taking off. Waiver claims on Travis Blackley and Brandon Inge have been huge boosts while giving up nothing. Everyone they’ve called up from the minors seems to help in one way or another. If for some reason they need help in the starting pitching department when the rookies hit their limits or break down a little, they currently have SP Dan Straily waiting in AAA and he’s the #1 rated prospect in all of baseball according to ESPN. They also have proven pitching in Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, and Brandon McCarthy all rehabbing from injuries. The only obvious place they needed an upgrade was shortstop, and last night recent shortstop call up Brandon Hicks hit a game tying homer. Hicks also had a walkoff in his third game with the A’s. One of the many examples of the A’s stumbling into found money in their system this year.

Everyone says the A’s need another bat, because they have the worst BA in the league, but when you get past the BA there’s a lot of good things going on. The BA statistic can be misleading, because since early June the A’s aren’t bad on offense, and the big reason their BA is so low is because of a dreadful April and May where they only averaged just over 2 runs per game. During their current July streak they only trail the Yankees in homers for the month, so standing pat is more and more palatable when they’ve gone from last to eighth in a month and a half in homers hit in the AL. Chris Carter’s emergence has been crucial to protecting Cespedes in the lineup, as he’s finally showing the patience and power that had A’s fans so excited about his Ryan Howard type potential when they acquired him in the Dan Haren deal.

Some think the A’s will fade as the season gets into August and September, but weren’t they supposed to fade when they had to play the Rangers and Yankees? Wasn’t the fairy tale story supposed to fade when they went back east to play Baltimore and Toronto last week? I know that the team has over achieved at least a little, but at some point you have to accept it as fact over a trend. Even last night I felt like Melvin out managed one of the best managers in the game in Joe Maddon. A big question I have is why doesn’t Cespedes get any love for helping turn this team around. Since he returned to the lineup on June 20th all he’s done is hit over .350 with 9 homers and 30 RBI’s. I get it, Trout is the MVP and ROY, but it seems like Cespedes should be getting more press than he is. Especially with the A’s sitting a half game ahead of the Angels in the standings, and a HUGE reason for that has been because of Cespedes’s play.

Quick side tangent, if the A’s, Rangers, and Angels all make the playoffs it will be the first and only time 75% of a division makes the playoffs. The reason it would be the only time is because of the addition of the 2nd wild card and the Astros will be joining the AL West next year, which will make it impossible to happen again.


F*^%in A!!!

Who’s getting pied is THE question every home game.

It’s been forever since I’ve written a post. I don’t really have a good excuse except that maybe I was a little depressed that all three of my Oakland teams might soon leave the city that I’ve always rooted for. I won’t be mad if they stay in the Bay Area, but that’s far from guaranteed. It’s not that I haven’t been watching sports, but my week off from the blog turned into two, then two months, then four. If we actually have some readers out there still, I’m sorry! Maybe the A’s will get me rolling again now that I don’t have to talk about stadium situations and can talk about the awesomeness of the team.

By now you’ve probably at least heard of the A’s remarkable winning stretch in July, but it dates back to June 10th just after they lost 9 games in a row. At that point in the season I thought the A’s were done, I didn’t watch many games, but in the midst of a nine game losing streak who really does want to watch their team go through misery. Since June 10th, they’ve won 24 of 33 games, and moved into a tie for the second wild card spot and are only a half game behind the Angels in the AL West, after sweeping the Yankees in a four game series this weekend. Are they contenders? They’ve taken 5 of 6 from Texas this season, and won the series against the Yankees (the two best teams in baseball), so it’s not out of the question. It’s so crazy that every time the game is within a run or two going into the last couple innings, the team, the fans, and even the other team seems to feel like the A’s are going to win, and for this month plus run it’s happened nearly every time. They have 11 walk off hits from 11 different guys (None named Manny Ramierez who was supposedly a huge risk to sign). I don’t think they had 11 walk off wins in the past three years combined! Will they keep up this torrid pace? Probably not, but they’ve shown that they are going to make every team get all 27 outs every game, and can’t be counted out even when they’re down to their last strike. Since everyone has the stats I just regurgitated on the A’s I figured I’d go through their roster and let you know some interesting things about some of the seemingly 40 key contributors on the 25-man roster.

Yoenis Cespedes – If you haven’t heard about him by now, you must not watch baseball. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons of who he could be, and I’d pick Bo Jackson as my comparison. If Yo knew football, he could be a running back. Good thing they don’t play football in Cuba or he may never have made it onto the A’s roster. With him in the lineup the A’s are 38-24 without, 12-20. To say he makes a difference when he’s out there is the understatement of the post. Oh and he’s 18 for 38 with 4 homers during the last 9 games. There’s a ton of press out there on Trout being the MVP and ROY. Maybe there should be a little talk about Cespedes. After hitting .150 on breaking pitches before his hammy and hand injuries, he’s now hitting over .400 on breaking pitches since the injuries. I’d say Yo knows adjustments. To top it off, all the beat writers seem to think he’s a very nice guy.

Josh Reddick – It’s the first time we’ve had the 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup that A’s fans can be confident in for the last six years. Looking back, I can’t believe we had Suzuki as our clean up hitter for two years. While Reddick’s 21 homers has been very nice, he also leads the MLB in outfield assists with 9 showing off his arm. He seems to give the team the Nick Swisher mindset keeping everyone focused and loose at the same time, and is a true leader.

The Pen – Probably the most underrated part of this team. Once they got rid of Fuentes the bullpen seemingly has no holes. No doubt the starting pitching has been amazing, but the bullpen is also leading the AL in bullpen ERA, and has been a huge reason the A’s have the best team ERA in all of baseball.  Sean Doolittle was a highly touted first base prospect that switched to being a reliever less than a year ago. All he’s done is pitch lights out after flying through the minor leagues this season and continued that success on the big stage to the tune of nearly two K’s per inning. Ryan Cook, the A’s All-Star rookie was thought to be a throw in during the Cahill deal. He started his career with a 29 inning scoreless streak. Though he’s faltered a little lately, his 42 appearances have only yielded 8 total runs given up over 42 innings of work. Not bad for a throw in. Evan Scribner has quietly worked his way into the back end of the bullpen when they have a lead. He’s a waiver wire pick up from the Padres and keeps getting them out of tough situations when the starter hits that rare wall. Grant Balfour and the much maligned Jerry Blevins have been putting up zeros after a tough start to the season. One cool thing about their bullpen is that nearly every guy throws in the mid-90’s and has at least one nasty breaking pitch, which was even more of a reason to DFA Fuentes.

Jarrod Parker – What’s not to like about the Cahill deal? Parker seems like a better and cheaper pitcher than him, and we got our closer and back up catcher out of the deal as well. 12 of his 16 starts this season he’s given up two runs or less, and he’s still learning in his rookie season! One of those bad starts was when he had the flu as well, so that’s a high percentage of quality starts for even a veteran.

Tommy Milone – The first couple times I saw him pitch I wasn’t too sold, but 9 wins later and I’m a believer. Just like Parker, Milone has the ablilty to make his fastball come out of his hand the exact same way his change up comes out keeping hitters off balanced. They might square one up, but that’s just because they guessed right. While Parker throws quite a bit harder, they are like the lefty and righty versions of themselves.

Aussies in the Rotation – Travis Blackley was cut by the Giants, and the A’s promptly swooped him up and threw him into some starts when the always injured Brandon McCarthy was on the DL. He didn’t pile on wins, but for a waiver wire pickup he’s posted a nice 3.36 ERA. Blackley has pitched all over the world and has taken advantage of his chance to shine in the A’s rotation in what was possibly his last shot in the big leagues. AJ Griffin, the third Aussie pitcher on the team, was the A’s 13th round 2010 pick. All he’s done is go 2-0 pitching into the 6th in every start with a 2.72 ERA.  Not sure if either will still be in the rotation when/if McCarthy ever is healthy and with the return of Brett Anderson looming, but I’m a fan of both these guys.

1B Platoon – To say I was happy when they finally sent Barton down to AAA for good doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about him. The Brandon Moss and Chris Carter platoon is working beautifully over the last month. A position that the A’s have had a tough time filling seemingly since Giambi left, they finally seem to have a good situation going. I’ll credit Melvin for putting them into good positions, because they both play a decent amount, and both seem to produce when they’re in there. They are two of the eleven walk off heroes.

Actually have power – Between Brandon Inge, Seth Smith, the 1B platoon, and Johnny Gomes they finally have players that can hit the ball out of the park outside their 3-4 hitters. When Inge hits another one, they’ll have six players with 10 or more homers. That hasn’t happened for them in a season for years let alone 2/3 of the way through one. For those of you that still think Billy Beane only cares about OBP, think again, he’s shifted to a less patient squad that hits the long ball over taking a bunch of walks. They are aggressive early in the count and often if they see a pitch they like.

Bob Melvin – He might be the manager of the year. Every button he pushes seems to work out well. His spring training mantra of running out every play has kept them all hustling on every play. He’s been part of winning teams before and knows how to motivate these guys even when everyone picked them to finish last in the division. Since he took over last year it looks like the players are having fun out there instead of when Boob Geren was just having them go through the motions, and even admitted to not knowing how to do a double switch.

The Lowlights – Jemile Weeks shows a flash or two of last season, but then promptly goes back into a slump. He hasn’t looked very patient at the plate swinging at a lot of bad pitches. Coco would be on this list with him, but he’s picked it up lately including his walk off hit yesterday. Kurt Suzuki has been a huge disappointment this year. He has been hurt, but if you can’t contribute anything on offense, I’ll take my chances with a rookie at catcher. He finally hit his first homer of the season, so maybe this will get him turned around. Cliff Pennington’s average fell off a cliff this year. Like Suzuki maybe he’s been injured since he just went on the DL, but his offensive production hitting under .200 with no significant signs of improvement make that the position most likely in need of an upgrade.


Manny, Steroids, and the NFL Combine

If you didn’t know, Manny packed up his estrogen and brought it to Oakland. The hysteria has swept over Oakland’s Spring Training in Arizona since he arrived Friday morning. I’m not sure if the bearded lady is a sideshow or the main attraction yet, but it’s become clear that the players are having fun with it using Mannyisms in their interviews whenever possible. I’m not sure why some people think it’s a terrible signing when he’s only making a prorated $333K after he serves his 50 game suspension. If he sucks, so what, they can just cut him. If he’s a cancer to the team, let’s face it, they probably aren’t finishing higher than 3rd in the AL West anyways. At the moment, I’d much rather watch Manny strikeout swinging as hard as he can than see someone else tap out on a weak grounder to the pitcher. If I thought the A’s were a contender, then maybe I’d be angry he’s taking atbats away from someone else, but at the moment that’s just a silly thought, so let’s see what the bearded lady can bring to the circus that is Oakland these days! The circus has for a moment taken over whatever the Giants are doing right now, so for a day or two at least Oakland is in the headlines over the Giants…

Lord knows I’ve never cared about players doing steroids, and if I did, I’d probably have to condemn my favorite A’s teams with the bash brothers or even more recent versions with Giambi and Tejada. When I heard about Ryan Braun’s negative test, I didn’t bat an eyelash. When his ruling was overturned, I didn’t bat an eyelash. When I heard Braun’s prepared statement, I felt like it was Rafael Palmiero waving his finger at me again, but didn’t truly care what his message was or what others thought of him. Whether he’s innocent or guilty, it’s obvious something happened that wasn’t right. The whole steroid era is overblown. It’ not like crappy players were all of a sudden good because they took steroids, they may have become average, but never great. The great players might be able to enhance their longevity a little, but who cares. I don’t watch games worried about who is using and who isn’t. I watch it to be entertained, and if PED’s end up being a part of that entertainment so be it. Hell, I don’t even care what message it sends to kids. Call me heartless, but if parents don’t instill to their kids that cheating is wrong, then they’re probably not that good parents to begin with. It comes down to a life choice for each athlete, and it should be their choice since they know the repercussions in the media and on the field.

I never watch the NFL combine (since I try to have a life), I’ve always felt it’s sole purpose was to keep NFL fans entertained with something during the off-season while players are poked and prodded in their underwear. Maybe if they had pads on doing some of the workouts would make more sense to me, but they choose underwear instead. As a Raiders fan during the Al Davis era you always had to look at the numbers coming out of the combine, because whoever had the fastest 40 time or could bench the most would most likely end up on our team at some point. Now that he’s gone and we only have two draft picks, I have zero reason to care what’s happening. The only thing that I really do think matters is their wonder-lick scores. No, I don’t really care if a player gets average or high scores, but I’d stay away from any player that scored low on the test, because it’s made for elemetary school kids. Other than that, look at film and call it good with making your picks.


Best Plays of 2011

I’m sure there’s going to be a bunch of these types of videos as New Year’s approaches, but this one was the first that I deemed post worthy. Sure, they missed some highlights here and there, but overall it showed us a lot of our favorite moments from this past year of sports. The one’s I would’ve like to see added to it you ask? At least one Jimmer from another area code shot, and something from that final day of the MLB regular season, Dan Johnson’s homer perhaps!?!


Goodbye Josh

Although Josh Willingham only donned the green and gold for a season, he was one of my favorite A’s players in recent memory, and it appears he’s heading to the Twins. Even if he doesn’t end up going there it doesn’t look like he’s going to be with the A’s either way. Whoever ends up with him, they got one of the most underrated guys in the league. Sure, Josh might miss a game here and there, he doesn’t play the best defense in the world, but he does give you consistency whether you have someone good hitting in front/behind of him or not at all he puts up production. He might be the first guys that came to Oakland, and didn’t bitch once about the hitting in the spacious coliseum. He didn’t bitch about switching to the AL for the first time in his career after being in the NL for five years (looking at you Holliday). He even wanted to stay in Oakland for one of those “hometown discounts” us A’s fans hear other players willing to take to stay with other franchises. While 29 homers and 98 RBI’s isn’t a monster season, in this Oakland offense, it was. I honestly can’t understand why more teams weren’t interested in him or making a push for him when he’s putting up solid numbers in the worst hitting park in baseball. I mean, didn’t Jayson Werth get a kings ransom last year for doing less than what Willingham did this past season? Why aren’t teams trying to offer him what he’s worth? There’s tons of defensive deficient outfielders out there that produce far less (see the entire overpaid Anaheim outfield). At least the A’s will get a couple compensation picks out of it or some money to bid on Yu Darvish with, since that’s all we really seem to value these days…


Keep The Change Ya Filthy Animal

Christmas season is in full swing now, so you have no excuse to have not watched Home Alone recently. Quite frankly, there have been a lot of Angels with Filthy Souls (coincidentally, two of them now play for team of that very name) over the course of the last week. Each day there’s been a new story, and each has a greedy bastard behind it. Allow me to run down the list….

Albert Pujols – Did anyone really ever doubt he would bolt St Louis for the biggest paycheck? Players can say what they want, but at the end of the day, they’re people like us. If we had to choose between a handful of companies, assuming the job was the same, we’d all pick the highest salary. We might take a couple bucks less to be in a city more to our liking, but that’s it. It’s an ego thing. You want the highest number you can get. Say what you want, Dierdre Pujols, but that’s what happened here. You can say you were insulted by St Louis’s offer, but at the end of the day, the reason is still because they didn’t offer as much money. Same thing. Pujols in an Angel uniform will enhance my disdain for them, but not nearly as much as…

CJ Wilson – He and the Angels are a match made in douchebag heaven. I started out liking Wilson because he made the transition from closer to starter effectively, and that’s admirable. But once you go and say Oakland fans suck, that’s where it ends. The reason the stands aren’t full is because the owners are selling us a AAA team with the clear understanding that they’re making no efforts to win any time soon. Texas fans wouldn’t show up for that, neither would Angel fans. Anyway, Wilson is coming off a career year, and Anaheim is always willing to pay. Wilson is a Southern California native, but far more of an Orange County guy, not Dodger material. I look forward to seeing how this contract plays out. He carries a 1-5 postseason record, with a 4.82 ERA.

David Stern – I really like what Stern is doing with this whole Chris Paul debacle. I like it because I don’t like it. Anything the commissioner does to draw more scrutiny in his direction is a welcomed move in my book. I’m so sick of this guy ruining my favorite sport that it’s gotten to the point where I just have to sit back until he runs it all the way into the ground. It reminds me of former A’s manager, Bob Geren. Ultimately, you just had to root for failure in hopes that it will bring change.

 

 


Winter Meetings Bringing Some Winter Depression

As I heard the Miami Marlins making it rain with their signings of Reyes, Buerhle, and Bell simply because they’re moving into a new stadium and now have more money. It couldn’t help make me wonder if the A’s could do the same thing if they were moving into a new stadium as well. Maybe they won’t spend on that same level, but it does give me some hope that they will be able to spend like the big boys one day. Unfortunately that we won’t really know if that day exists anytime soon because the MLB still hasn’t made any rulings on the A’s stadium situation and possible move to San Jose after three very long and frustrating years of waiting. All the 1,000 A’s fans have had to look forward to is if Andew Bailey or Gio Gonzalez gets traded for a bunch of minor league guys this off-season. At least last year they were throwing offers out there to Beltre and other free agents. This off-season it’s back to standard operating procedure. Our spending has gone down for three straight years, and even when we are in the free agent market nobody wants to come to Oakland unless they’re a semi-washed up pitcher or reliever. Even guys that want to stay in Oakland like Josh Willingham for a discount nonetheless, which is unheard of, since no hitter ever wants to stay in the spacious Coliseum can’t sign with the team because we’re waiting on the MLB’s ruling. I don’t fault Billy Beane like some have in recent years, because it’s impossible to build a team or plan for the future when you don’t know where you’ll even be.

Then the news broke that CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols will be joining the division rival LAAAAAAA for about $325M. No big deal for Moreno, just a couple additions to get more people in LA waving those game changing rally monkeys. I do hope whoever runs the CJ Wilson is a douche site keeps it going. It makes a ton of sense for the Angels to do this to try and take over the LA market while the Dodgers are in a rough downtime, and while doing so they also stole the division rival Rangers #1 starter. Weaver, Haren, Santana, and Wilson is a ridiculous rotation that was already good last year. Trumbo and Pujols makes for a solid heart of the order. The A’s haven’t spent as much as Moreno did in one day on payroll for the last four years combined made me even more depressed. While I’m not overly worried that Pujols will live up to his humongous contract, it will suck to see him playing against Oakland for 18 games a season. Another thing for A’s fans to be depressed about is the fact the Astros are joining their division which means we have more even competition to get that 3rd place finish next year. Fortunately you need 25 guys to play well to win, so there’s a little hope, but a more likely scenario is having to hitch more of my rooting interest on the Warriors and Raiders for the next couple years…


Kemp Got Robbed

Back in August I got to sit in the Dodgers dugout while working with the Fox Sports production team. Finally had the right time to pull out this picture I took!

So today Ryan Braun was named the NL MVP. It came as a complete shock to me for a few reasons. Maybe while I was living in LA, I just heard too much hype on why he was a slam dunk choice for the award, but the more I thought about it the more I didn’t see why Braun had the “better” season. Yes, the Brewers made it to the playoffs and won a lot, but since Kemp played with literally nobody else helping him on offense it made Kemp’s year that much more impressive. Make no mistake Andre Ethier and James Loney are no Prince Fielder or Corey Hart. Some might argue Ethier is good, but despite some of his numbers early on, he had a crappy year. I watched more Dodgers games last season than I’d like to admit, but honestly unless Kershaw was on the mound, the only thing worth watching in thier games was Matt Kemp’s atbats. I suffered through half hour periods of other players batting basically to watch Kemp bat. He finished with the NL lead in homers (39), RBI (126), and was third in BA (.324) in one of the closest attempts at the triple crown in years. To put Kemp in a little better perspective; his team scored a 644 total runs on the season, and he accounted for nearly 20% of his team’s offense even though pitchers were pitching around him all season long (trust me I saw how few pitches he had to hit, and it was Bonds-esque). Oh yeah, and once on base Kemp did another thing better than Braun, which was steal bases. Kemp had 40 thefts to Braun’s 33. Was it Kemp’s fault the rest of his team wasn’t able to score more runs for them to win more games? He came through every time he could and then some. You know what else was impressive in Kemp’s stats that I came across, is he has five walk off hits, and three were homers. Braun had three walk off hits this year, and only one was a homer.

Putting the all the offensive numbers aside that clearly point to Kemp over Braun, doesn’t playing a harder position much better than the other guy playing a weaker position give you an upper hand in voting? I go back to the rookie of the year race last year, and how Buster Posey won the award over Jason Heyward. Heyward had slightly better numbers and had played more games, but Posey won the award because many cited he played the tougher position. Is Braun an above average outfielder with a great arm? Yes, but he plays left field, the spot usually designated for the worst outfielder on the team. Matt Kemp plays center field at a gold glove level. Sure I get it winning means something, but after I took a closer look at it today, I don’t understand how the BWAA made thier choice. Maybe they hate McCourt as much as Dodgers fans, and decided they couldn’t have the Cy young winner and the MVP under his watch. Anyways, congrats Braun you are a great player, but didn’t deserve the award this year in my eyes. At least Kemp can sleep well on his nice pile of cash money!


A’s Bring Back Pitching Coach Curt Young, And Hope For 2012

Curt Young ditches his team of drunks for younger kids who aren't old enough to drink

With a football resurgance going on in the Bay Area – the Raiders and 49ers are both off the great starts in the NFL season – Northern California baseball fans are wondering what it would be like if their MLB teams returned to contention next year. Sure, the Giants are, for a few more days, the reigning World Series champions, but they took a step back this year. But, if you know us, you know Doin Work is more about the A’s anyway. Over the second half of the season, it became clear that Oakland is not too far off from being competitive again. The pitching was clearly there, they just needed to find the offense to go with it, which has been a problem since the A’s went to the ALCS in 2006. But after we finally got rid of manager Bob Geren, the hitting finally came around. Problem is, the pitching suffered. Injuries were a factor, losing guys like Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson certainly hurt, but even ace Trevor Cahill had a down year. While I’m not so sure pitching coach Ron Romanick was the problem, there’s no denying the fact that the A’s pitching staff had much success under his predecessor, Curt Young. Young was let go last year to take the Boston Red Sox position, but we all know what happened there last year. With the Epstein-Francona regime ousted from power, Curt was left looking for a new team. Fortunately, the A’s wereright here waiting (as Richard Marx once sang in 1989 when Young helped pitch the A’s to a World Series pennant). Before he left to coach the Red Sox beer-drinking, fried chicken eating, video game playing bums, Young led the A’s staff to a 3.47 ERA, the lowest for an AL team in 20 years. It’s pretty much the same staff he left, with Braden and Anderson set to rejoin Cahill, and perhaps the new ace of the staff, all-star Gio Gonzalez. So, if Curt Young can help return the rotation to top form, it will allow the A’s front office and coaching staff to focus all of their attention on the offense, where it absolutely belongs.

 


What’s your problem Bud!?!

With the first pitch of the World Series only minutes away, I ran across the story about Dallas Mavericks finals MVP, Dirk Nowitzki’s bid to throw out a first pitch at one of the games in Arlington Texas was denied by Bud Selig. Apparently he’s an avid Rangers fan that goes to the games, and has thrown out a first pitch before. The decision apparently wasn’t because of the lockout or anything like that, but more so because he’s not a recognizable enough of a figure. I’m sure the country singer they decide to put in there every sports fan will know…

Well, let’s start with the girlfriend test. Could my girlfriend (who doesn’t know much about sports) tell you who he is? Yes, she could pick him out of a group of awkward looking tall white guys. Maybe there’s more recognizable players in the NBA you could put out there, but where are most of the people that will be watching one of the lowest rated WS in recent history? People in Texas, where Dirk is a god. To top it off saying Dirk doesn’t have national appeal is very shortsighted. Didn’t he just give every white boy with hoop dreams hope after winning the finals MVP during the highest (TV) rated finals ever? It’s funny how the NBA finals will easily outproduce the MLB World Series in the ratings. Maybe that’s how much Selig hates Cuban. He doesn’t even want his employees around baseball even if they aren’t a threat to buy a team.

Even if Dirk did throw out the first pitch, how many times do we even see the unofficial “first pitch” televised? The only times I actually see that celebrity “first pitch” is on youtube clips when the person throws the ball 20 feet short of the plate or into the backstop over the catchers head. When I go to games I can’t even remember a time that I ever saw the first pitch, let alone cared that much who it was throwing it. It might be a 15 second event at most. Seems like if the Rangers wanted Dirk, they should’ve gotten to put Dirk out there. Maybe Selig is making some of his last attempts to keep baseball’s pre-historic thinking in tact. Man I hope he retires and we have a new MLB commish in 2012. Maybe then we’ll actually hear what the verdict is on the A’s territorial rights…


Doin ALCS Thoughts…

As I was watching the Tigers put up some runs on CJ Wilson today, it hit me, I genuinely hate the Rangers. I hope anyone BUT them wins the World Series. I guess I had so much respect for my favorite A’s coach over the past two decades, Ron Washington, that I was blinded that they were in the same division as my favorite team and was inexplicably rooting for them to succeed. I can comfortably say the A’s are now under the Curse of the Wash, and I’m no longer rooting for the Rangers to do anything good ever again. Under Nolan Ryan, they’ve been a well run organization that makes solid decisions with trades, signings, and draft picks (sucks, sucks, and sucks). I’m guessing there’s a little jealousy mixed in there. My disdain for CJ mostly came from his comments in August about how A’s fans suck, and that was the tipping point. Since then I’ve been rooting for injuries to the guy, and I can’t say that about many. Especially since he’s one of the main guys helping keep Hamilton off the junk.

All hatred aside, I honestly don’t see the Tigers being able to win the next two in Texas to take this series. They have a ton of injuries, and even home run swings are painful at times. They seem to be hanging on by a thread every inning as the Rangers constantly have men in scoring position, but one can only hope that Texas collapses and they slowly get labeled playoff chokers. If the Tigers can get to Fister for a game 7, you never know what can happen. He shut them down the Rangers offense in game 3, but I’m not entirely sure he can duplicate that in Arlington’s launching pad of a park even though he’s a ground ball pitcher.

The bottom of the 6th was the most enjoyable inning of game 5, which started with a single by Raburn. Then Miguel Cabrera bounced one off third base which went over Beltre’s head (who used Oakland’s offer as a bargaining chip this off-season) gave me a little feeling of vindication for shunning us. V-Mart’s triple was pretty solid, but the one that really got me going was Delmon Young’s second homer of the game. Maybe it’s also a little because I said the Tigers wouldn’t be where they are without Delmon about a month ago, but watching the Rangers miserable inning made me happiest I’d been all playoffs. I wasn’t sure what my point was when I started this post, but if it gave you any reasons to root against the Rangers, I think I did my job!


What Would Stern Do? – MLB Edition

Uh oh, the Yankees are on the brink of elimination tonight. To make matters worse, they’re sending AJ Burnett to the mound. Fortunately Major League Baseball is the least corrupt of the professional sports leagues. I can’t help but wonder, though, if NBA Commissioner David Stern was running MLB. First, they wouldn’t even be in this predicament in the first place. Why? Because the Red Sox would be in the playoffs right now. Remember that wild, amazing 162nd night of baseball we all had last Wednesday night? It never would’ve happened in the NBA since Stern would have made sure all the dollar signs associated with the Red Sox got in rather than the one dollar sign next to the Tampa Bay Rays. However, put in the position MLB is now, with the Yankees on the brink of elimination, and I know the NBA front office would be going crazy. We’d be in store for some of the worst umpiring ever witnessed tonight (we still may be). Here are some measures I would put in place tonight if I were David Stern (besides jumping in front of a train for the greater good of humanity)….

  • AJ Burnet suspended for insert prior incident here – This is quite simple. Dig up some prior incident on Burnett’s criminal record – surely he has one – and have someone close to the situation go public with it. There has to be an ex-girlfriend out there who can re-hash an old domestic altercation. Suspend Burnett, force the Yankees to start someone else, thus improving their chances of winning.
  • Exercise the Bartman Clause – Ever think back to the Bartman incident and think, “Hey, that would have been an out if it were the other team.”? Be it financial or something else, find a way to entice Detroit fans to reach over the wall. If they snag a ball out of play off a Tiger’s bat, then it’s an out. If a Yankee player hits it, give him a do over. This would really give New York a fair unfair advantage.
  • Humidor in the Yankee clubhouse – Oh man, this one makes David Stern drool! Unfortunately for him, it’d be impossible to make each team play with two different balls. Otherwise, he’d have done it in a heartbeat. In baseball, it can be pulled off. If I am Tigers player, I’m making sure to grab a ball while I’m at bat, and also grab one in the field, and then run scientific tests on it afterward. No big league player is going to do that though, so this move could be easily pulled off undetected.
  • Call more fouls – I know there’s no fouls in baseball (aside from foul balls), but one thing the NBA is really good at is star treatment. Fouls on Lebron James aren’t fouls on Lou Amundson. Let’s do the same thing in Major League Baseball. It’s true that supertstars already get special treatment. Look no further than Derek Jeter’s final at-bat last night in the 9th inning. Valvered threw a pitch for a ball that would have undoubtedly been called strike three against 99% of player. But let’s take it a step further. Let’s penalize other players for imeding the stars’ performance. Remember when A’s pitcher Dallas Braden told Alex Rodriguez to stay the f*** off his mound? Toss him! It’s the postseason now. The stakes are higher. If Porcello comes inside on Cano, throw him out of the game! There’s a good chance you can get Leyland out of there too.

Best Baseball Teams On Film

On the heels of one hell of an introduction to the MLB Postseason, a lot of us have received the shot in the arm we needed to get captivated by baseball in the form of a dramatic 162nd day of the regular season. Even though the A’s failed to qualify for the postseason for the fifth straight year, my season isn’t quite over yet. Today I’ll finally be heading out to the theater to check out the new Billy Beane flick, “Moneyball.” I’m really curious, and in some ways scared, to see how I feel about it. The movie looks great on paper. A-List actors, well-respected writers, and a critically acclaimed director make it an immediate favorite to win the World Series of baseball movies. Even the reviews are pretty much nothing but solid. I’ve even heard the word OSCAR tossed around. But I’m scared to get my hopes up to high for a movie I’m about to see, let alone one about my beloved A’s.  I’ve found over the years, that the way I feel about the team is reflective of the way I feel about the movie, and vice versa. So, I’m especially curious to see how I digest Moneyball, which documents the 2002 season, which will forever be etched in stone in my memory. I went to somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 games that year, including the historic 20th win in a row, as well as the game 2 victory over Boston in the ALDS (Dyslecix and I left the Coliseum with little doubt that this series was a wrap). For that reason, I expect plenty of goosebumps as some of Hollywood’s finest reenact some of my most memorable A’s moments. Every clip of the movie I’ve watched so far has looked pretty bad. I didn’t see The Social Network or Capote, so I don’t really know what to expect when it comes to screenplay and directing. All I can hope for is that the movie doesn’t change the way I feel about the A’s. If anything, I’m worried it’ll make me long for the good ol’ days when my team was a winner. We’ll know, though, if that happens, then the movie was a success. In the meantime, I’m going to take a look at other famous movies about a particular MLB Baseball team and see how it helped form opinion – either about the team or the movie….

Minnesota Twins: Little Big League I’ve always been neutral on the Twins. On the one hand, they’re a fellow low-budget, moneyball-type team. On the other team, they seem to pop up against the A’s in the playoffs every few years. I love this movie though, for two reasons. The fella who plays Lou is Timothy Busfield, who’s from Sacramento. Even more impressive is that Billy Heywood is played by Luke Edwards. Many of us remember him as the little brother of Fred Savage in the classic Nintendo film, The Wizard. Few of us remember him as the title role in the based-on-a-true-story, I Know My First Name Is Steven.

Chicago Cubs: Rookie Of The Year The only way you don’t love this movie is if you’re over 30. Otherwise, you dreamed of breaking your arm and magically being able to throw 105 mph. This movie always reminds of a relaxing weekend day, probably because that’s always when it’s on TV. It’s also probably because it’s about the Cubs, so all of the game footage is during the day. People often fail to make the connection between Henry Rowengartner and Kevin from American Pie, but overall, he was good in this movie – except when he struck a guy out and said, “Kewl!” The Cubs have been scouring the Little Leagues ever since, and have yet to find a pitcher as good as Rowengartner.

Cleveland Indians: Major League I & II I probably would have liked the Indians no matter what, since my best childhood friend’s cousin was the manager of the team from 1991-1999. Even if that weren’t the case, I’d always be a closet Indian fan thanks to the Major League movies. Know what else? I probably would have never picked them to go to the World Series this year either if it weren’t for these movies.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Sandlot I’m pulling this one out of my ass here. I’ve seen most of the Sandlot a thousand times, but mostly on TV, and therefore rarely in its entirety. So, if I’m wrong about the kid ending up on the Dodgers, please forgive me. But if it’s true, it’s only fitting that one of that classic group of kids ended up on a good team. I liked the Sandlot gang and I like the Dodgers (with the exception of 1988)

New York Yankees: *61, Pride Of The Yankees, The Scout – For all the movies about the Yankees, I don’t think I’ve seen any of them. That’s pretty reflective of real-life, where I have a vague grasp of Yankees history, but haven’t really made the effort to get to know all the facts.

Anaheim Angels of California: Angels In The Outfield Don’t like the Angels. Never saw the movie. Looks like a pretty star-studded cast with Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Adrien Brody, and Matthew McConaughey. I’m still not gonna go and watch it though. My life seems to be better without the Angels around.

Boston Red Sox: Fever Pitch I gave this movie a chance, because I thought it would at least be entertaining. Negative feelings about Boston aside, this movie was so bad, so bad, so bad. If this movie was about my favorite team I would stop liking them. I’m trying to picture the Oakland version of this movie, but all that comes to mind is Poetic Justice…

Detroit Tigers: For The Love Of The Game I’ve never seen this, but it stars Kevin Costner, so perhaps I’m better off steering clear. I know of one friend who swears this is a great movie, but she’s a Red Sox fan, so perhaps I’m better off steering clear.

San Francisco Giants: A League Of Their Own Tom Hanks plays Bruce Bochy in this touching film about a bunch of women who came together to build a winner. Geena Davis stars as Buster Posey, and Madonna shines as pitcher Matt Cain. Lori Petty scored a breakthrough performance in her role as Tim Lincecum. But perhaps the star of the show was Rosie O’Donnell as Pablo Sandoval. The physical resemblence is out of this world.

Oakland Athletics: Moneyball TO BE DETERMINED…..


How good was tonight for baseball?

I don’t even know where to start with all the wild games that just went down, so I won’t try to tell you since you’ve already probably seen the highlights by now, and if you haven’t you better flip on the TV, and check out one of the wildest last days of the season in MLB history. Everynight in baseball you can see something you’ve never seen, but I doubt I’ll ever see something that will duplicate tonight. The Rays alone could probably write Moneyball II about this season after their biggest signings in the off-season were Damon and Manny. They also lost pretty much their entire bullpen along with a handful of quality players. I’ve always liked Dan Johnson (grew up with the A’s). Mceezy and I definitely had a texting frenzy when he went deep to tie the game. The Cards were in the least exciting game of the day, but they survived tons of injuries and pushed their way into the playoffs. Are the Red Sox back to being cursed? Doubt it, but I bet we’ll hear Boston start complaining about being cursed again if this becomes a trend or maybe even if it doesn’t. I think the Braves are much more cursed of the two losers on this wild Wednesday. In the end, the Braves relied a little too much on rookies, this won’t be the last we see of them. The first thing I thought about tonight was, they better do a 30 for 30 on the two 9 game comebacks, and this crazy finale on the last day of the season. It has to be better than the Bartman crap they gave us this week (which I gave up on after 15 minutes).

Having one of the craziest days in baseball history has me more fired up for the playoffs than I thought I’d be with relatively no rooting interest. I guess I kinda like Detroit, but that’s not even set in stone. I really tuned out for a few weeks and wasn’t paying attention at all except for an A’s update or Matt Kemp’s triple crown watch, then BAM the wild card races were actually interesting last week. I guess this means we don’t need to add another wild card spot to the mix, Bud. It also shows that every game does matter. Even the game Matt Kemp won’t play because it’s not being made up after a rainout against the Nationals, could’ve been the game that got him to be a 40-40 guy. Also, Reyes is weak for leaving in the first today after he got a bunt hit. Any thoughts or comments are welcome, because I think I’m just rambling after what I just saw!