Billy and The Mick.

billyThe air is getting more crisp in the mornings and I’m looking forward to Fall and sweaters and hot coffee in the early AM hours. I walked the dog in the wet air, and after peeing in his preferred spots I came home, made my girlfriend a bagel with cream cheese and then sat down for some light reading. I found this to be a rather funny excerpt from the current book on the “devour list,”Billy Martin’s 1987 book, Billyball:

…Mickey Mantle and I were in (the club) and sitting across the room was Elizabeth Taylor. She was with Michael Todd, who was her husband at the time, and Rock Hudson. Ed Wynne came over and asked if Mickey and I would pose for a picture with the three of them. I said we’d be glad to.

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Perhaps The Mick was on to something.

We went over and Ed makes the introductions all around, and let me tell you, I looked at Elizabeth Taylor’s face and it was like looking at the face of an angel. Her features were perfect. She was simply lovely, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. I just couldn’t believe a woman could be that beautiful. And she was wearing a low-cut dress. Oh, my God, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

So Ed introduces us and she’s very nice and sweet although I’m not even sure she knew who we were. And we pose for pictures and that was it, the whole thing took no more than a few minutes. Now Mickey and I return to our table and I just can’t get over how beautiful Elizabeth Taylor is. I’m talking a mile a minute.

“Mickey”, I said, “Did you see that face? Did you you ever see such a face? That is the most beautiful face I have ever seen in my life.”

“I ain’t seen her face,” Mickey said. “but did you see them tits?”

Watch out Josh Reddick! Joe Rudi was the original Spiderman.

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1969 Topps

I was elated to receive this personalized autograph in the mail on this fine, sunny day in October; and since the once- promising now rotten-in-retrospect season is over for the Oakland ball-club, I thought that this would be a perfect time for a short look back at Joe Rudi’s career.

Joe Rudi was the left fielder for the A’s World Series champions from ’72-’74, and most popularly noted for his amazing Spiderman–like catch in game 2 of the ’72 series versus the Cincinnati Reds that explicitly saved the game for his team. Rudi spent 16 years in the big leagues, hitting .264 with 1,468 hits, 179 home runs and 810 RBI. He was an All-Star three times and thrice a Gold Glover, he also twice finished second in MVP voting. (losing to Dick Allen and Jeff Burroughs respectively.) Rudi had quite a bit of postseason experience, and though he wasn’t stellar overall–his career batting average in the playoffs was .257–he did have some moments of brilliance. In the 1973 World Series, for example, he hit .333 with nine hits, two doubles, three walks, three runs scored and four RBI. In the next year’s World Series, he hit .333 with six hits, one home run and four RBI. Joe will always be remembered as a fine player on a great team, and a way above average defender who waved a solid stick.

The invariable Oakland DH…a strange and funny day.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES“Strikeouts are boring–besides that they’re fascist.”–Crash Davis

I could only laugh when I received these autographs in the mail on the same day! It was uncanny. Both players “played” DH for the Athletics towards the end of their career and both struck out A LOT. These guys struck out so much that both led the league three times. It was enough to make an old school tyrant like Ty Cobb, who preached contact and speed, turn over in his grave. Yet both players also had amazing power and could hit the ball a country mile.

Cust bounced around from team to team and played in the minor leagues for 10 years before getting his shot. He was acquired from the Padres for cash as the A’s needed a DH due to an injury to Mike Piazza. (another horrible position player.) Cust quickly endeared himself to A’s fans by hitting 6 home runs in his first 7 games. “John Joseph” was an effective DH, and had a nice ending to his career from 2007-2010 for the Athletics. You can see why Billy Beane liked the guy from a statistical standpoint as he walked a lot and had a high OBP. This was a very strange dichotomy, and Cust will go down as one of the more unique players in MLB history. (Adam Dunn was another who led the league in both categories, and was also a Oakland DH this season…conspiracy theories anyone?)

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Mike Royko

Dave “King Kong” Kingman needs no introduction to most baseball fans. He hit 442 tape measure jobs and gave a rat in a box to a female reporter. Kingman wasn’t known for his sunny disposition and had a personality former Mets teammate John Stearns compared to a tree trunk, complaining that “when you talk to him all he does is grunt.”  “Dave Kingman was like a cavity that made your whole mouth sore,” said another former teammate Bill Caudill. Ol’ Dave constantly quarreled with reporters and even dumped ice water on one. Another reporter said he was “an unquestionable slugging talent with a puzzling psyche marked ‘fragile.'” Kingman regularly insisted he was misquoted, and he began appearing regularly in the Chicago Tribune as the nominal author of a ghost-written column. Mike Royko, then writing for the rival Chicago Sun-Times, parodied Kingman’s column with a series using the byline “Dave Dingdong.” (A bit of Royko’s parody column…Hi, I’m Dave Dingdong and you’re not. I really don’t have to introduce someone as well known as me. But for those who have been living in a cave, I’m the tall, dark, handsome left fielder who hits those towering homers. I’d be a standout anywhere, but especially in Wrigley Field, because most of my teammates are nothings. . . . You might wonder why I’ve broken my legendary silence. Well, I’m a frank and honest person. And to be frnk and honest, I’ll do anything for a buck, even break my legendary silence. And if you wonder why I’ve been silent for so long, it’s because basically I’m a shallow, self-centered person who has few ideas and nothing to say.Sometimes they boo when I drop a fly ball. Why should dropping a ball be a big deal? Or sometimes they’ll boo when I throw the ball, and that’s really unbelievable. A few weeks ago in Houston, I made a really fantastic throw. It went over the third baseman’s head. Our pitcher was backing him up, and it went over his head too. Then it sailed all the way into the dugout and went up the player’s ramp. Now, how many people do you know that can throw a ball that far? Even the sportswriters said they never saw a throw like that before. But then they criticized me for it – for doing something they never saw before. No wonder I can’t stand sportswriters. They don’t appreciate originality.) Kingman eventually quarreled with his own ghostwriter. Kingman may have wasted his talent and by all accounts he was a jerk, but you didn’t buy a beer when he was due up. Even on the downside he was worth the price of admission. He was entertaining as hell, that’s for sure, even if it was somewhat in the entertaining-the-way-a-car-wreck-is-entertaining fashion.

With a career total of 442 home runs, Kingman was the first person with over 400 home runs not to make the Hall of Fame

Billy Beane pundits are ruling the media these days…my argument against their stupidity.

Billy Beane (1989 A's) 2

Feeling the heat.

By Colonel Harland Sanders

Process over results every time. All. The. Time. Process is how you sustain success. Process is how you give yourself the best odds to avoid baseball being “stupid.” It’s how you become the horrible, awful, infuriating (if you’re not from St. Louis) Cardinals. This is not to say sabermetrics are always right. Actually nobody EVER says that except for people complaining about advanced stats who seem to rest their entire argument on that particular straw man. Advanced metrics simply improve your odds and give you a better chance.

The really crazy thing to me is that this isn’t specific to sports, but it seems to be the only place where people think it’s a bad thing. Let’s say you went to the doctor because you were sick and were given 2 options; a treatment that’s been around for 20 years that is supported by all of the research and gives you an excellent chance, or a medical technique that was popular in the 50’s but has since been shown to be flawed. Would anybody pick the treatment that gives them worse odds just because that’s how “old school” doctors would have done it? Of course not! And if for some reason, you did pick the statistically flawed and it worked…that doesn’t mean you made a smart decision, it means you got lucky.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am genuinely thrilled for Royals fans. They deserved this win!* but you know who didn’t deserve this win? Ned Yost. Dayton Moore. They made poor decisions and were rewarded with dumb luck. Their victory doesn’t change that.

*you know who DIDN’T deserve that heartbreaking loss? A’s fans. These people support a club that has been trying to leave town for years. It has a crap payroll. It has a dilapidated stadium. They have lost every do-or-die game they’ve played in this millennium (0-7). And they lost the Wild Card game LIKE THAT? In a season where they really went all in? Yuck.

The Oakland Athletics and their horrible “gag job.”

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Just “making it” doesn’t cut it anymore.

The A.L. Wild Card Game was fun to watch, but it shouldn’t take 2,430 games of pseudo-intellectual baseball pundit gibberish to get a conclusion like this. Throughout the cursing, nail-biting, pacing and punching, (there is now a small hole in my desk.) the media has already deemed yesterday’s game an “instant classic.” As sweet as that is for baseball nerds/wildcard hypocrites and bandwagon underdog types, I would have settled for a nice, boring, also-ran game and a victory. Jon Lester was acquired for a game like this, and although he didn’t have his best “stuff,” he left with a lead and gave the Athletics a chance at victory.

The goats: Bob Melvin. He will be criticized for not playing Adam Dunn, yet I wasn’t quite sure there was a situation that called for that decision. My criticism, however, is the slow hook for Jon Lester in the 8th. Perhaps he didn’t have much faith in the bullpen. (I know I didn’t) Melvin has been criticized all year by this blog for his slow hook and lack of tactical baseball decisions and it is well-known that Billy Beane (shhh…it’s a secret) makes the lineup cards on a daily basis with Melvin making only in-game moves. He’s a likable guy, but ultimately he’s around to do something he’s, frankly, not very good at.

Luke Gregerson. He could have conceivably got out of the Lester jam, instead he gave up an RBI single to Billy Butler, a stolen base and then a wild pitch to bring the Royals within 1 run and ultimately give them the momentum they needed. Perhaps another bad decision by Melvin as Gregersen isn’t a hard thrower, and everybody snoopyin the house knew that pinch-runner Terrance Gore was going to try to steal in that situation. Was he conceding the stolen base?

Sean Doolittle. Let’s face it…despite all the idiotic shenanigans the Athletics showed us on national television, they still had a chance for victory. A one run lead in the bottom of the 9th with your All Star closer ready to shut it down…what more could you ask for? Josh Willingham, (forever loved in Oakland) batting for Mike Moustakas, opened the inning by dropping a single into right field. Jarrod Dyson ran for Willingham, was bunted to second and stole third. STOLE THIRD! Aoki hit a long out to right field, a sacrifice fly to tie the score, 7-7. Blown save…the biggest one of Doolittle’s career.

Home plate umpire Bill Miller. He had an absolute atrocious strike zone that took the fun out of the game at times. Batters from both sides were perplexed.

I will post a few opinions from the loyal readers of this blog. Thanks for a great season guys…

I know the Royals are known for their speed, but the amount of stolen bags in this game was mind-boggling. At the end of the day, the offense actually showed up ready to bang and the defense ended up being our downfall. Still, shouts out to everyone at Kingfish Bar last night for being one of the best crowds in Oakland…we almost collapsed the ceiling after the 2nd Moss homer!– Andres Castallanos

I don’t blame Lester. I blame the injury to Soto — the Royals were stealing at will past Norris — and, more importantly, I blame Bob Melvin who showed NO URGENCY in that critical 8th inning. 4 steals, 3 runs… none of that should ever have happened. Lester got tired at 100 pitches, which is the norm these days, and Melvin was just asleep at the switch. Grady Little redux. –John Miller

Blame this “L” on the infield, relievers, catcher. Lester left with a 4 run lead.– Fernando Zapien

Too much “great season A’s” on all the team pages I follow! These people think that if you call out your team for such an epic tank job you’re bandwagon. Ridiculous! It was a shit season! No pennant, no heart, no discipline. Oakland is supposed to be the tough gritty team that isn’t scared of shit! This season was huge. With the stadium turmoil and where will our home be discussion we needed to at least make a run, and we failed. Now I’m guessing the San Jose topic will come up again in a big way, and unfortunately the fight to keep them in Oakland will be extra tough because we’ve lost the respect of MLB. I have a sick feeling that this heart break will continue to haunt is in several ways for the foreseeable future.–Tim Hinkle

and finally….

That game was a gag job, just like the season!–Lynn Phillips

Wild Card….ummmm…yay?

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Josh Reddick somehow let his right ball fall out.

The entity that is the Oakland Athletics continued their on-going mind fuck by making the playoffs on Sunday. The game against Kansas City has a historical significance because of the Athletics move to Oakland by owner Charlie Finley in 1968. Also, the Royals haven’t been in a playoff game since 1985. Let’s hope for a good one baseball fans.

The Billy Beane failure chronicles…part 1

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He’s a stone cold fox! Also nicknamed “Captain Clutch.”

Even a “genius” can make mistakes. Nikola Tesla made bizarre contraptions such as an earthquake machine and a death ray. Thomas Edison wanted to make entire houses out of concrete. Einstein said that the universe was eternal (apparently he thought the Big Bang Theory was hooey.)….and Billy Beane traded Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley.

At the time the trade seemed to make sense. The Athletics needed a big bat and they acquired one in Bradley. All they had to give up was their minor league player of the year and Texas League MVP in Andre Ethier. The trade worked fine for a while as Bradley helped the A’s get to the 2006 ALCS where they were eventually swept by the hated Detroit Tigers. Bradley, however must have forgotten to take his meds the next season as he became the violent schizophrenic that he had been in Los Angeles and was traded to the Padres  after only 19 games (with cash…now THAT is desperation) for forgotten relief pitcher Andrew Brown.

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head case.

Ethier, on the other hand became the poster boy of Los Angeles. He is one of the most beloved Dodgers to ever put on the uniform and will forever be seen as a heart-throb (right up there with Menudo!) to the female contingent of 20 and 30 somethings in the City of Angels. He is a two-time All Star, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. Ethier also gave the Dodgers 145 career HR’s and 628 RBI’s, compared to Bradley’s 16 and 59 for the Athletics. Ethier is class–personified while Bradley is quite the opposite. The psycho burned every bridge in every city he played in until everyone finally gave up and he wasn’t re-signed after the 2011 season (he even took to wearing earplugs to drown out the heckling fans)….and it didn’t end there. Bradley was facing 13 years in prison for spousal abuse and even threatened to kill his wife on more than one occasion. Strangely enough, she died on September 14, 2013 of unknown causes. (this was swept under the rug…perhaps I might get a notice from a lawyer or 2 after this is posted.)

This was a trade of disastrous proportions and will probably go down in history as one of Mr. Beane’s worse, and to save subjective judgment is diametrically opposed to what “Moneyball” was supposed to be about in the first place. This is but the first installment of “The Billy Beane failure chronicles.”

The Yo-pocalypse that never actually happened.

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Voodoo dolls can be purchased for the folks who believe in such nonsense.

Some believe that a superstition is anything that people believe that is based on myth, magic, or irrational thoughts. They are beliefs that are steeped in lore or tradition, and it is usually difficult to pinpoint the exact origin. Superstition is also believed to be a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason, knowledge or experience. 

Baseball has a deep cultural tradition of superstition; there is just way to much time to think, re-think and then contemplate some more. This is exactly what happened after the A’s traded fan favorite Yoenis “La Potencia” Cespedes to the Red Sox on July 31st. The A’s  went into a deep funk, all but giving up their A.L. West lead and best record in baseball by a sizable amount of games. The fans cringed, became angry and eventually blamed it on “The Trade.” This is ridiculous for many reasons:

A) Pure numbers. Cespedes hasn’t put up impressive numbers in Boston. He has 5 homers and 30 RBI in 175 AB’s, hardly great numbers…more like average. His horrible OBP actually went down to a terrible .294 as of this writing. Lester on the other hand has been a solid 6-3 with a 2.20 ERA and at one point in September was the only pitcher in the rotation that was a guaranteed solid outing. I also would have infinite more confidence in Lester starting a one game play-off than any other pitcher in the rotation, something Oakland fans haven’t been able to say since the Dave Stewart era.

B) Injuries. In September alone the ball-club had injuries to Reddick, Punto, Lowrie, Vogt and Doolittle. John Jaso also never recovered from his concussion and won’t be seen until 2015. Craig Gentry and Kyle Blanks have been out for so long they are all but forgotten. phant

C) Horrible pitching. Scott Kazmir has been lit up in 4 of his last 6 starts, Sonny Gray has lost 4 out of his last 5, and the bullpen has been terrible. These are the ERA’s for the last 30 games. Kazmir: 8.58, Doolittle: 8.44, Scribner: 7.11, Cook: 5.87, Chavez 5.19. (with Kazmir being 3-6 5.86 and Hammel being 2-5 4.61 post All Star break.)

D) Post All Star Hitting blues. Brandon Moss has been the biggest disappointment here. He was hitting .268 with 21 homers and 66 RBI at the break, since then he is .179/4/15. A tremendous and disturbing drop off. Alberto Callaspo has hit .203 and played horribly defensively. The numbers at the catching position dropped off dramatically, as did Josh Donaldson’s HR totals. The usually dependable Coco Crisp has battled injuries and a .199 average. The outfield as a whole has been a disappointment with Josh Reddick leading the way with a .270 average.

The only conclusion that I can draw here is that a lot of bad shit happened, and I’m still not going to a palm reader any time soon. The numbers are right in front of you. This will be the end of the line for some of these players, some will be riding the bus in the minors and for others…the life of the platoon player. This is something that happens in baseball, and ALL sports. Sometimes it ends quickly and sometimes it peters out slowly, unfortunately for the A’s it all happened at the same time. We can only hope that they have one last run in them. 

Angels win the West. Ho hum.

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Elephants never forget.

The “Los Angeles” Angels clinched the Western division last night, finally living up to their “potential” and bloated pay-roll. Their mellow, almost boring to the point of tears fans were given kudos for sticking around after the game and watching the Athletics’ Sean Doolittle achieve a karma-like implosion on the big screen as the Rangers scored 6 in the 9th to take the game 6-1. I think it is pertinent to understand that Doolittle had just come off of the disabled list a few days earlier but seeing that the A’s bullpen had decided to smear feces on its collective faces the past month or so, his comeback was seen as just slightly below the second coming of Jesus Christ himself. Mike Scioscia, who has the character of a stoned sloth summed it up this way, “Guys are aware that this is one little milestone that we need, and I think they’re proud of that, but we have a long way to go. I think these guys know the bigger prize that we need to keep our eyes on.” Well said, but let’s not forget that their pitching staff would be/and will be considerably worse than any team in the A.L. playoffs. Now the baseball world will be able to see the owner of the worst contract in Angels history, Josh Hamilton, do what he does best–swing at virtually everything, and look bad while doing it. His MVP season of 2010 feeling like decades ago as he is now just an average player at best when they can get him on the field. A’s fans also have no love for outfielder Kole Calhoun who complained about the Oakland fans in RF being “too loud” in Anaheim and actually had a few ejected. Perhaps I am looking at this with a jaundiced eye, but besides Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and maybe Jeff Weaver this team just isn’t very likable. They are as homogenized as the city they play in. Here’s to hoping they choke on a giant chicken bone in the playoffs. Godspeed.

Eric Chavez retires, the A’s are really, really bad, and the summer is ending on a horrible note.

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battered, stained and sad.

The A’s have continued their frustrating nose dive into oblivion, now only percentage points in front of the Mariners, and a half game above the Tigers. The slump is somehow baffling and understandable at the same time, and if the ball-club fails to make the post season it would be seen as the biggest collapse of the Wild Card Era. (and one of the biggest in baseball history in my opinion.) No team with the best record at the All Star break (again, in the Wild Card Era) has failed to make the playoffs. The season is rapidly coming to an end, and what was in the beginning that elicited pure joy now only brings feelings of deflation. Deflated enough to talk about a t-shirt….

I’ve owned this Eric Chavez t-shirt for many years now, almost too many to remember. It is faded, the letters/numbers are cracked, and I usually only wear it to bed or if I’m doing yard work. I cut the sleeves off of it a couple of years ago because I needed a sleeveless shirt for the unbearably hot summers. It’s comfortable and broken in just the way I like it. My girlfriend wants me to throw it away, but I refuse. That would be like tossing away a friend, and we have too many stories and experiences mutually shared.

Eric Chavez, who retired on July 30th, was the greatest 3rd baseman in Oakland A’s history. (Sorry, Sal Bando!) “Chavy” won the Gold Glove 6 times in a row, is 4th on the on the Oakland all time home run list with 230, (Bando is 6th with 192.) and is universally seen as one of the most beloved players that ever put on an Athletics uniform. It’s frustrating paying homage to a player in such dire times, yet Chavy’s legacy will live on– if only in the life of a battered t-shirt that covers a broken heart.

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