The Oakland Athletics and their horrible “gag job.”

asas

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 gibberish to get to 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 A.L. Wildcard 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…throughout 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? Well, 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 your 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?

band w

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

ethierandrefinn

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.

poo-poo

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.

cespy

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.

angels

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.

photo

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.

Jack Kerouac and baseball.

nash“Writers are a different breed of lonely and resistant re-arrangers of things; anxious malcontents,  children afflicted at birth with some presentiment of loss.” –Joan Didion

It is no secret among my cohorts that my sense of dislocation and fluid relationship to language gave me an extremely strong sense of the arbitrary when it came to systems of communication. In layman’s terms: I can see through the bullshit.

  But, before I turn this into a slander against greedy owners, bitchy players, or “literary” based baseball blogs whose editors couldn’t write their way out of a paper bag; I  would like to take a short walk down memory lane…. (if you can wade through the labyrinthine stories and digressions)

Jack Kerouac was a “be-bop” writer and one of my heroes as a teenager. I tried to dress like him (khakis, newsboy hat, white t’s) and even did funny things like taking hallucinogenic mushrooms in cemeteries and writing poetry. (anyone who sees this as “wrong” should probably analyze their own connection with a reality based culture in which facts, opinions and lies are interchangeable) Although my admiration had waned for “Ti Jean” by the time I had reached my 30’s, I was astounded when I had learned Kerouac had devised a fantasy baseball game as a child. kerouacThe game was based on a set of cards that had precise verbal descriptions of various outcomes (“slow roller to SS or 2B,” for example), depending on the skill levels of the pitcher and batter. The game could be played using cards alone, although sometimes Kerouac determined the result of a pitch by tossing some sort of projectile at a diagramed chart on the wall. In 1956 he switched to a new set of cards, which used hieroglyphic symbols instead of descriptions. He collected their stats, analyzed their performances  and wrote about them in homemade newsletters and broadsides. I, too, had played a similar game as a child, using baseball cards, dice and statistics; (this was how i figured out the E.R.A., an arduous task as a boy) keeping track of careers (this involved ungodly amounts of paper), sending players to the minors (yes, I had minor league systems too!) and conducting drafts. It was sort of therapeutic to find out that one of my idols had done something so cerebral and individualistic with the same obsessive quality that I had.  This was a testament to my love for the game and a secret I had held close until now.

Thanks to Jim Nash for the personalized autograph. In the interviews I’ve listened to, you seem to be a good guy and have a lot of hilarious stories to tell.

A moment of bravado (and a message to the Angels) as the last month of the season kicks in.

saveIs it time to panic? Was it all wishful thinking? Do we have a rational chance?

I’m not sure if I wrote about the following experience on this blog. (I tend to write in the grand tradition of self-absorbed blow-hards…the tediousness still exists to this day.) We live in a world full of holes. That’s always how it seems with thoughts that transition into stories: one minute there’s nothing, and the next minute it’s there, already sitting inside you. Memories…

I was a bad kid. Juvenile hall and all that shit. My mom sent me to live with my grandparents when I was 16. I moved from Northern California to the southlands of Orange County. My grandparents  ran a motel in Buena Park, Ca. not but 5 miles or so north of Anaheim. Grandpa and I used to go to Angels games now and then to see the likes of Gary Gaetti, Jim Abbott, Mark Langston, Chili Davis, and old man Jimmie Reese. (Babe Ruth’s roommate) Jimmie was an honorary coach because of his age and stature, and he would sign autographs and answer any questions the young kids had about baseball.  I loved it and would ask him casual questions about the Babe. We were Oakland A’s fans until the grave, yet we were baseball fans overall, so we took what we could get. I had nothing but great memories of the “Big A.” Mind you, all of this happened before the new ownership, the condescending attitudes, bloated payroll, self-righteous disdain and that idiotic Disney rock pile in the left/center field. (Now everyone in the “real” Los Angeles area makes fun of the Angels because of their unfortunate name and “intellectually inferior” suburban plight.)

The recent collapse by the Oakland ballclub has thrown the fan base into a bit of a controlled rage. The Anaheim Republicans recently swept us in 4, putting us into that unfortunate abyss of Wild Card hell.  But…as every Oakland fan woke up on Saturday; no doubt bleary-eyed/ hung over from the festivities of Labor Day from the day before…..we decided to sign Adam Dunn.  Adam Fucking Dunn. dunn

The rest of the league laughed at our desperation! Not ONE team wanted him at the trading deadline. Dunn was a has- been. A steaming pile of crap on a junkies’ ball sack. The limping, lame orphaned dog that everyone wished would be put out of its misery. The cyst on your ass that you never noticed until it bleeds through your pants.

Our kind of guy. 

Dunn hit a homer in his first AB as an Athletic on a hot, sticky day at the Coliseum on Monday afternoon; not a moon shot , but a moment of hope. This was a meaningless homerun in the baseball world, yet to Athletics fans it was akin to the battered and bloody boxer that had recently been knocked down in the 12th round. Yet, in this story the boxer gets up…again, as he had done so many times before….and he says, “I’m still here….let’s get it on.”

Random thoughts and Rollie Fingers riding a dolphin.

rollie Just a few random thoughts……The A’s bullpen has stunk this season. The Jim Johnson fiasco and Luke Gregerson’s 7 blown saves has given a crap team like the Angels a chance to compete. (and let’s face it, Bob Melvin has enough on his plate– worrying about 3 platoon catchers, Brandon Moss’ slump, where to play him and all that jazz.) There are the people who think the ‘pen is fine based on BABIP and SIERA , (no, not Ruben!) but I tend to go with my eyes rather than a bunch of stats conjured from thin air by numbers-crunchers and the jobless. It gets so ridiculous at times that you wonder how they could ever cross the street until they figured out the Pythagorean projection of success. (A note to the ladies…they are most likely bad in bed.)….

…Is former Athletic and current Astro Chris Carter the new Dave Kingman? His stats suggest so. He has amazing power, low batting average, strikes out a lot, yet throw a hanger and that fucker will have its own stewardess. The only difference being that Chris is a soft-spoken “good guy” and Kingman was known for being one of the game’s biggest assholes…so much so that after hitting 35 round-trippers no one signed him….and he NEVER PLAYED AGAIN…

…The vape pen is the best thing to ever happen for all you low-key weed smokers/baseball fans. It’s compact, and you can get your smoke on without any of those corny ass, nosey, do-gooders getting in your face for no good goddamn reason. It’s the perfect ballpark accessory. (this works extra well late in the post-season and early summer when the “on the cusp” bring their kids and ignorantly see the ballpark as Disneyland.)…

The season is slowly/quickly and sadly coming to an end.

 

 

 

SLUMP!!!!

i guess  Here I am again, sitting by the poolside with a screwdriver, one of my favorite adult beverages. You may think that I’m trying to be a braggart, but L.A. summers are hot, man. I’m not having the time of my life or anything. Mind you, I live in a post WW 2 bungalow (L.A. is known for these….look for them in just about EVERY movie) so I don’t have air conditioning. Yep….tough times.

  OK…OK….on to baseball. As you may or may not know my answers are unfiltered and to-the-point, often poignant but always unsentimental, not rude but refusing to infest the garden of honest human communication with the Victorian-seeded, American-sprouted weed of pointless politeness. What was the question you asked?

Well, the A’s sucking major ball-sack lately.

The A’s hitting has been anemic since “the trade”. They are 7-10 since trading the “Cuban Missile” and have currently lost 7 out of their last 8.  They got a great ace in Lester but traded their 4 hitter to get him. Losing Cespedes has an effect on your 3 an 5 hitters and, ultimately, your entire lineup…..and that’s fine. There is a philosophy at work here. And that philosophy is based on “gamers”, L/R matchups (the baseball du jour) and amazing starting pitching.

 I’ll take the above mentioned any day of the week over a guy who had an OBP of barely .300 and would make a great play every now and then. This is baseball…it takes patience, articulation and grittiness to win. If I know anything about this team….we’ll be alright. This is a desperate plea to all the nerds out there in internet land….CALM DOWN! I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING! ENJOY BASEBALL! SOMETIMES YOU LOSE! LIFE GOES ON! QUIT BLOWING UP MY INBOX! …..and now…..back to my screwdriver.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 256 other followers