These are the dog days of summer. The days when you buy chopped fruit from a street vendor, wear breathable shoes, snicker at people wearing cargo shorts, wear a light sweater at night, and perhaps even kiss a summer fling. There are blasts from boomboxes (cell phones) and people lounging and splashing in the river. There are people sitting on porches with a can of beer and with no hope of ever getting anything done that day. The days are getting shorter and the baseball season is slowly coming to an end, as if a lovely friend was planning a vacation for 6 months. When it ends it would have been a deep and complicated relationship full of thrills, contemplation, happiness, anger, and finally…heartbreak.
Recently my “baseball buddy,” Manny and I decided to take in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League playoffs this past week with The Sacramento River Cats (S.F. Giants) squaring off against the Las Vegas Aviators. (Oakland A’s) I was particularly interested in this game because Daniel Mengden was on the hill and he and his handlebar mustache had spent a significant amount of time as a starter in Oakland this season, doing a pretty solid job before being sent down. There were, of course, a smattering of A’s prospects that I wanted to see in person although most had been called up when the rosters were expanded a few days prior.
Manny and I did our usual “pre-game” routine of a twelve pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the parking lot complete with the musical stylings of Slayer and the Circle Jerks. We stumbled into the stadium right around game time and settled into our seats a few rows behind home-plate. This game was announced around 48 hours earlier and was only attended by 3000 and change making the atmosphere close to a funeral. The catatonic-like atmosphere only got worse as the Aviators took a 6-1 lead in the third inning, turning anyone in the place not wearing green and gold into a virtual zombie. This was quite the opposite of an MLB playoff game in every way possible.
In a desperate attempt to liven up this experience, we had decided to walk around the stadium and take in the game from every angle possible every inning or so. This turned out to be fruitful as I had a moment of kismet when a ball was smoked down the left field line, arching foul and entering my outstretched hand on one hop moments before going over the fence. Manny returned from the bathroom and I told him he looked liked 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag moments before tossing him the ball.
“Can I have the ball, dude?”
Of course you can.
It was time to go. The game was in the bag and Manny had his foul ball. It was a beautiful, breezy night and I walked across the Sacramento River before biking home and immediately retiring to bed.
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
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.
This is a short, rather funny account of his trip to game 5 submitted by one of the most awesome and dedicated readers of this and the facebook page , (check it out if you haven’t already) Don “the cheese” Queso. enjoy!
As i made the 10 minute drive to the park from my house, I cant help but get a nervous energy rush over me thinking of last years post season. We were bested by a bunch of assholes in our own house. After a 45 minute parking war, 6 pack of corona and 5 fatties burnt to a CRISP I’m in my mode and ready to hunt tigers. Entering the park the crowd is all hopeful and feeling confident about the game. I’m greeted by a few familiar faces as i make my way to my seat and run into a troll wearing a Tigers hat and A’s jersey. I swiftly inform him its a better idea to wear KKK sheet to million man march and that he’s a fucking jinx!
I proceed on my short trek to section 227 and quickly accumulated 3 rally towels instead of the 1 that they give at the gate. My spirits are higher than they had been all day, feeling like runs wouldn’t be an issue. Finally I’m at my seat and yelling for the A’s to get it done. After 3 no hit innings for both teams the nervousness sets back in. Gray finally gives up a hit . Up comes Miguel Cabrera and slaps a lazy 2 run home-run in the 4th. A sense of urgency quickly rushes over me. the A’s aren’t hitting and I’m surrounded by drunk assholes that don’t know the game, players or even the score, and its pissing me off to no end. I stand up and tell them they need to pull their shit together. A few more innings go by and the green and gold can’t even make any contact or even a loud out. Its making me sick to my stomach, they play their asses off for 162 + games just to come home and blow it all in front of 43.000 fans. This isn’t what I wanted to see or people I wanted to be around. I’ve been to more games in 1 week than these assholes have all season, so after 7 no hit innings I’ve had enough and took the walk of shame back to my truck. Call me fair weather or bandwagon but I call it educated. The boys weren’t playing like themselves. Some calls were going the other way, and to top it all off the “A’s killer ” Verlander was dealing like he was in a Las Vegas poker room. I listen to the game on the radio on the way home and then catch the final 8th and 9th innings on the tube. The tigers closer Benoit is struggling and doesn’t have “the goods,” and allows the A’s first consecutive base runners of the night. Up comes our last hope Seth Smith. He takes some admirable hacks but in the end leaves 2 on with a lazy fly out to right, and with that goes another year of the Verlander curse. It was a good season but like our guy BIlly Beane says “if you don’t win the last game of the season it doesn’t matter.” So bring on the Tiger and Giants trolls because through it all I will always bleed GREEN & GOLD!
We lost to the Tigers in game 5 AGAIN….and sure, it hurts… yet I was prepared for this. Sure, like every other fan there was self-induced bravado and the predictable ” Justin Verlander isn’t as good as he used to be” sort of talk. But deep down in my decrepit soul I knew better. The A’s are 1-12 since 2000 in elimination playoff games. That’s A LOT of nail-biting, fist clenching, teeth gnashing and over all screaming your head off until you feel like an asshole…all for naught. So I felt a bit at peace. I accepted the Japanese word “Shoganai,” which if translated means “it can’t be helped.” The philosophy states that if something is out of your control it is better to accept it and move on. This was the ONLY was to watch this game in a semi public setting without looking like a psychopath, so I accepted the philosophy, drank a beer, and sat down to watch the game that was being played in the concrete monstrosity where I first pissed in a trough.
The first 3 innings go by pretty well, goose eggs across the board. It all turns into a giant shit sandwich when Miguel Cabrera takes Sonny Gray deep into the left stairwell for a 2-0 lead. This is the point in time when you get that “oh fuck, not again” feeling. Ok, buck up buttercup…it’s only the 4th. Verlander is on fire…he’s spotting pitches and also getting a strike zone a foot off the plate outside by umpire Tom Hallion. I know we’re fucked…and we are. Verlander pitches a perfect game until a Reddick walk in the 6th, and a no-hitter until Cespedes base hit with 2 outs in the 7th. Detroit had already scratched another run across to make it 3-0 by then. I know the game is pretty much over, yet I fancy myself a super fan, so I listen to announcers Don Orsillo and Dennis Eckersley (sorry Eck) suck Verlanders dick for the next hour. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard, “he’s really on tonight” or “he’s got so much in his arsenal.” Usually when I watch a game I prefer the Vin Scully approach…some tidbits of information about the city the player grew up in, some inside baseball information or perhaps a joke or two. Couldn’t you lay off another “his breaking ball is devastating” and perhaps tell us where Jed Lowrie grew up!? Or maybe the hardships Yoenis Cespedes had growing up in Cuba? A lot of the people watching playoff baseball are fair- weathered fans, and I could only imagine their boredom when these guys talked about Verlander ad nauseam. Fuck, it bored me and I’m a diehard.
There is much debate by the announcers as to if Justin Verlander is the second coming of Jesus Christ himself. Apparently Jim Leyland doesn’t think so, as he brings in Joaquin Benoit to close it out in the 9th. A couple of guys get on, and suddenly Seth Smith is up with 2 guys on and 2 outs. A homer ties this one. One brilliant, deep, soaring tater into the Oakland night, and this game is tied. I’m paying attention now, I’m imagining what I am going to do WHEN it happens. He then proceeds to hit a lazy fly to Torii Hunter as I watch worthless GM Dave Dombrowski celebrate behind the Detroit dugout. The disappointment doesn’t sink in for a while. I’m not angry, just quiet. I go to get some of that organic pizza that all the kids are talking about. Congratulations TBS, you got what you wanted…a RedSox/Tigers A.L.C.S. We’ll be back again though, trying to fuck up your television ratings …like we always do.
Game 4 of the A.L.D.S. between the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers upset me like no baseball game ever has in recent memory. There was a complete meltdown in all aspects of the game, whether it be Ryan Cook being wild and ineffective, Josh Reddick‘s HUGE strike-out with the bases juiced on a crap pitch, or Sean Doolittle, well, living up to his name.
It seems a lot of readers of the facebook page of this very site thought a certain play completely changed the momentum of the game. With the A’s leading 4-3 in the bottom of the 7th, the newest most hated man on the planet according to Oakland fans, Victor Martinez hit an opposite field drive:
Reddick seemed to think, even after the game, that he had a chance to catch it, and one reader even sent the rules to Bud Selig and umpire Joe West, getting a nasty response back from Mr. West’s representative, “Hank.” Here are the rules as follows:
When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.
APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.
Rule 3.16 comment: There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15. Batter and runners shall be placed where in the umpires judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred.
No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectators interference. Example: Runner on third base, one out and a batter hits a fly ball deep to the outfield (fair or foul). Spectator clearly interferes with the outfielder attempting to catch the fly ball. Umpire calls the batter out for spectator interference. Ball is dead at the time of the call. Umpire decides that because of the distance the ball was hit, the runner on third base would have scored after the catch if the fielder had caught the ball which was interfered with, therefore, the runner is permitted to score. This might not be the case if such fly ball was interfered with a short distance from home plate.
other reactions: The fan who interfered said ” He’s glad he didn’t cost the Tigers a Home Run” if you didn’t do anything wrong, why are you glad you didn’t COST them something…..stupid fuck.
Man, we better win. I’m really starting to hate the Tigers. Especially their bandwagon fans in Seattle
That call caused an emotional and momentum swing. That being said…..bases loaded nobody out. Why the hell are you swinging out of your shoes?!? All we need is a bloop, fly out, hard or soft ground ball to the first base side- just don’t strike out!
I’m pissed that I have to see Miguel Cabrera‘s shit eating grin on my TV again.
and finally: GODDAMMIT THE MLB AND NFL HATES OAKLAND!
Did the play cause a minor momentum shift? Definitely. Did Bob Melvin make some questionable pitching changes? certainly. Yet, I am not the type of fan who feels comfortable making excuses as we had MANY opportunities to put this game away. Sure, I had Jeffery Maier flashbacks; and I fucking HATE the Yankees more than the goddamn Tigers, yet the Tigers really aren’t the great team that they used to be the past couple of seasons, so I don’t feel threatened. I don’t have that ominous feeling of defeat when facing Verlander in game 5 that I had the past. Felix Hernandez has clearly passed him as the best pitcher in the A.L. That being said, there is still a game 5 to be played. I’m going to have to remind myself to be calm, enjoy the game and not get too stressed out.
Awwwwwww, fuck it: LET’S GO OAKLAND!!!!!