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 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 in 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
That game was a gag job, just like the season!–Lynn Phillips
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is 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.
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.”
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.
I am trapped in my own thoughts–trapped in a no man’s land between feeling and articulation. The air is stale and dry. I’m watching the Athletics and the White Sox on the tube when Brandon Moss strikes out on a wicked “Uncle Charlie.” (Hitting coach Chili Davis didn’t see Moss as a “Punch and Judy” hitter, taught him to open up his hips and the power came naturally. Now he’s a dead pull hitter and one of the better home run hitters in the A.L.)
“Goddamn it!” I say as the remote hits the ground with an uncommon zeal. Why do I care so much? Is this a character flaw? I know that the owners are egregious little shits that want to extort the most money they can from municipalities. (and nothing is worse than the person who magically becomes broke the second they have to spend money on something that isn’t to their immediate and unequivocal satisfaction) I know that stadiums don’t return their investments to their communities. Yet, despite my contrarian attitude…I still care. Perhaps because adult life consists of boredom, routine and petty frustrations that I enjoy this form of entertainment and escape. Perhaps I am like most Americans and I like to celebrate the inane. Perhaps I am just bullshitting myself to give this one-sided conversation some “lather.” I get tired of these tedious romantico-absurdist soul-searchings and it makes me feel like an incorrigible sack of shit.
I watch this game because it makes me feel safe for a moment. No amount of information regarding ice melting in Antarctica can faze me. (and no amount of dipshit Republicans denying it either) This game brings back memories of people that I have lost. Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They enter empty rooms and close the door of the past behind them.
Daric Barton is the player every Athletics fan loves to hate. He was put on waivers TWICE in one week and not ONE team claimed him! (not even the Mets) Welcome to the first installment of Daric Barton, churro vendor:
I pull into the parking lot, pay my 1.50 for parking, and proceed to fill my large cup with some vodka and orange juice. I finally park after 15 minutes of driving around and about 15 minutes of arguing with complete strangers. Welcome to the West Wind Coliseum Swap Meet in Oakland, Ca. Everyone loves the swap meet, yet I don’t know whether to love or hate this place. It’s dirty, many of the vendors are lacking in English language skills, and I haven’t really found anything useful here. It’s an interesting cultural experience, to say the least. If you want cheap slutty clothes, funky gaudy jewelry, electronics that may or may not have “fallen off the truck” or strange kitsch from south of the border, you may find yourself in heaven here. Personally, I go there for the vintage video games and baseball memorabilia (and the big booty mannequins). When it comes to selling junk (or clutter if you prefer) most of the stuff here looked like leftovers from a dumpster. This place was reminding me of a Daric Barton at bat on a sunny day: the only thing you’re going to leave with is a sunburn and a little less dignity than you had before.
On the positive note, they also have multiple booths throughout, selling beer or micheladas at reasonable prices. I’m done with the vodka and purchase a Dos Equis from a vendor. The day is reasonably cool and I’m getting a slight buzz on. After a couple of puffs from my vape pen, I’m feeling rough and ready. I’m stumbling around at a slow pace and trying to ignore the constant yammering from the vendors. It sort of reminded me of “the alleys” in downtown Los Angeles. This conversation between a kid and her grandma had me snickering all the way back to my car:
Abuela: Do you want it? I’ll buy it for you. I had one in my room when I was your age.
Kid: Uh…who is it?
Abuela: Whaddya mean, who is it? Don’t you know who the Virgin is?
Kid: Oh sure. I know who she is.
Abuela: (Turns to vendor to pay for portrait)
Kid: (Turns to me shrugs her shoulders and mouths ‘Who is that?)
Daric Barton, churro seller season stats: 48 AB’s, 0 HR’s, .146 average.
Another trip to Orange County…Oakland A’s vs. The Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles by way of Fullerton and Santa Monica
Long time readers of this blog know that my girlfriend and I make the hellish, bumper to bumper trip down the I-5 to Anaheim once or twice a year when the Athletics come to town. Since I live in Los Angeles, it’s difficult for me to make it to the Coliseum; and the “Big A” or whatever the hell they call it these days is my only opportunity of the year to see the “good guys” up close and personal. A’s fans in past years seemingly turn out en masse, and this game was proven to be no different. The day started out on a high note as I met 3 time world series winner John “Blue Moon” Odom in the parking lot. He and his wife were charming and cordial. He got a kick out of it when I told him that announcers Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse always show him in the crowd and give him a little air time whenever the A’s play the Angels on television. (He lives in Southern California, so like me he only gets to see the A’s when they come to town twice a season.) I got an autograph and a photo, and after thanking him and shaking his hand, I noticed he was wearing a World Series ring. There is no doubt in my mind that those Oakland A’s teams from 1972, 73 and 74 were some of the greatest teams of all time!
Right away I had a bit of a problem with the Oakland lineup. The A’s were facing a left-hander in Hector Santiago, and their 8/9 hitters were both lefties, each of which were batting .100 and .080, respectively. With Nick Punto batting in front of Reddick and Barton in the 7 spot, we were essentially GIVING AWAY 3 outs. Jesse Chavez gave up an RBI single and a homer to Albert Pujols, (his 496th) which were all the scoring the Angels did as they were shut down in the last 6 innings. Hector “who the fuck is this guy” Santiago had a shutout going until Oakland cut the lead in half with a Yoenis Cespedes solo shot in the 4th. The game resumed and Angels fans were being their typical, boring selves. There was absolutely ZERO passion. They remained in a zombie like state until they started to do “the wave” in the 6th inning; completely ignoring the fact that the A’s were threatening to tie the game with runners on. Oakland fans were out numbered 3,000-1 and were undoubtedly louder and more into the outcome of the game.
The game was essentially dominated by the bullpens until the 9th. Whipping boy/super scrub Jim Johnson shut down the Halos in the 8th; and then this happened with a runner on and 1 out in the 9th:
The entire stadium deflated. The smug, “we all but have this in the bag” quietness turned into disbelief, verbal disappointment and booing. It was one of the MOST WONDERFUL moments I have EVER experienced at a ballpark. I was beaming as Oakland fans high- fived each other on the way out of the stadium. We had proven who the KINGS OF THE WEST were once again.