Archive for the ‘ playoffs ’ Category

The Asterisks may have the can, but the A’s prove to be the garbage

“Baseball is visceral, tragic, and absurd with only fleeting moments of happiness; it may be the best representation of life.” –Adrian Cardenas

Sorry, baseball world. It was up to this ball-club to exact some sort of small revenge for the inadequacies against the universe and they failed. This was a demoralizing series, as the swingin’ dick Asterisks, in a perpetual climate of contradiction, proved that cheating without repercussion or self-reproach is the new American way of life. This approach is celebrated in the White House (and politics in general) and has trickled down into the muck of the baseball world as the catalysts bounce back and forth from “powerful” to “victim” at the drop of a hat or whenever it is convenient to benefit from said situation. When did we become a bunch of cowards? Even as a child I knew that when I did something terrible I felt remorse without trying to rub it in the victim’s face. That basic and humanistic concept is way over the heads of these “men.”

Am I being dramatic here? In the end, despite the unmitigated disaster, my girlfriend (who doesn’t give a toss about baseball) and I toddled down to the local art museum after the game, (don’t judge, we wore masks and the tickets were very limited) and afterward, in the suburban slob tradition, we scarfed a bunch of fast food, coddled in blankets while embracing auteur status of gory B-grade camp/crap horror movies. (Only because there were no more Cobra Kai episodes after binge-watching the shit out of the first 2 seasons) Very sophisticated stuff. This led me to forget about millionaires prancing around in pajamas and playing with balls. Embracing the important things in life. And we all need that in these trying times of pandemics, assholes, liars, cheaters, and pricks that surround us every day lacking any sort of compassion, justice, or truth that ultimately corrupts their blackened hearts.

The Asterisks won this series fair and square and undoubtedly have a powerful lineup, but in the playoffs pitching is always the Prom Queen and they have a noticeable lack of it. (So did the A’s but that is another story) How good is this team? Perhaps they stumbled upon a “playoff hot streak” à la the 2019 Nationals. Ahh, except that team had– you guessed it–pitching. Their shit-smudge dream will inevitably end, although, regrettably not by our hands, and their classless fans will crawl back under the rocks from whence they came. Go Rays! or Yankees? (I can’t believe I actually said that) 2020 can you please burn in hell? Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to go put my head in a cheese grater while searching for early signs of senility.

Bring on the lying, sniveling cheaters known as The Asterisks

What a series. I aged about 10 years and definitely acquired a few gray hairs. At times I was sweating like a whore in church, and at other moments I didn’t know what to do besides pace and stare at my fingernails. It wasn’t lost on me that this series started exactly one day after the 100th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal. Did the baseball gods still care? This club hadn’t won an elimination game since game 7 of the 1973 World Series-that is-never in my lifetime. The Sox had a vivid fashion sense, were known for “Cadillac-ing it,” had the best pure hitter in the league, and the probable MVP. That being said– let’s dive right in, shall we? (To be frank: I absolutely despise series recaps on blogs. They are humdrum and as dull as dishwater. I know, what a hypocrite.)

Game 1: The gods certainly must have stifled a chuckle when the front office (or Melvin?) decided to start LH pitcher Jesus “Jesus Lizard” Luzardo in game 1, garnering a snarky response from Tim Anderson whose Sox were 14-0 against such freaks of nature.  And rightly so, as after the (predictable) loss it was almost a universal feeling from the fan base, with torch and pitchforks, that it was time for Bob Melvin and Billy Beane to make their exodus. The power of frustration compels me! Sox 4 A’s 1

Game2: Chris Bassitt my be the best pitcher in the A.L., and he proved it by shutting down the powerful Sox lineup, saving the season, and maybe Melvin’s managerial career in the green and gold. Mark Canha made an incredible catch in LF giving all the old coots LSD flashbacks of Joe Rudi in the1972 WS and essentially saving the game. Dallas Keuchel couldn’t get out of the 4th, the South-Siders tried to make a late-inning comeback, even loading the bases in the 9th before being shut down by Jake Diekman. A’s 5 Sox 3

Game 3: A HUGE 4 run 4th inning erased a 3-0 deficit and an absolute feeling of deflation and the “here we go again” sentiment that the fans were universally experiencing. This game could be forgotten as the playoffs mature, but for now it is one of the biggest wins I’ve had the pleasure of watching. It really could have gone either way as both teams left a lot of ducks on the pond in big situation after big situation before a 5.5 hole stinger by Chad “Swiss Army Knife” Pinder scored two runs and cemented the eventual final. Sox manager and hot head Rick Renteria made some baffling pitching decisions, playing “3-D chess” and pulling his starter in the 1st after 2/3 of an inning and using SIX pitchers to get the first 12 outs. A classic case of over-thinking, and now the fan base wants him strung up. What a strange managerial flip-flop. In the end, it wasn’t our problem as it was the Elephant’s first series win since 2006 and gives us an invite to Dodger Stadium to exact sweet revenge on the Asterisks. A’s 6 Sox 4

“I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “But what are they going to say now?” I know what I would say: you won a “Wild Card” 3 game series and haven’t accomplished jack shit. Your pitching is weak. Quit playing the victim. My inner Joe Biden wanted to say, “Will you shut up, man?” If this team was a living annex of your personality, you would cheat on your wife and then return home to blame it on some other shmuck with an unapologetic smirk. Classic blame-shifting. It’s the Oakland A’s and every other fan in the baseball world vs. The Asterisks, and they need to be humbled in the worst kind of way. “Bang a Gong,” as Marc Bolan famously sang, and not a trash can. A’s in 4. 

Bring on the Sox

R.I.P Eazy

When I think of the White Sox I immediately think of N.W.A., Bo Jackson, Bill Veeck, Charles Comiskey, goofy softball uniforms. Carlton Fisk, Disco Demolition Night, Frank Thomas, Shoeless Joe Jackson, “Black” Jack McDowell, Tony LaRussa (this one is confusing), and last but not least….a completely wasted, living and breathing trailer-park-cliche father and son materializing from the stands to beat the shit out of an umpire

There’s a largely uncelebrated and rich history on the South-Side of Chicago, but much like the Oakland A’s, they hone their craft on the more working-class (black) side of town with “derelict” followers, so they get very little national screen time or respect from anyone in the baseball world but the rabid fan base that supports them. They are considered the plucky little brother from a city that can hardly pull their eyes away from the bourgeois North-Side Cubs that are synonymous with a large fan base of drunken college kids lurking in the bleachers, throwing up on themselves (and others) and not even bothering to at least go to the restroom to urinate when they’re not harassing and hurling death-threats at an innocent, headphone and turtleneck-wearing nerd.

Alas, there is a wealth of young talent on this exciting Sox team that would surely be household names if they played for the Yankees, with the likes of Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, and Jose Abreau swinging the sticks, and Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease taking the hill for the Medias Blancas de Chicago. And in an abrupt topic change, I would also like to take this time to thank the Sox for letting us defraud and embarrass them in the Jeff Samardzija for Marcus Semien and Chris Bassitt trade. We didn’t care much for Jeff in the East Bay anyway. Ribbing aside, I have much respect for this team and their history and I am looking forward to an exciting, highly competitive series that should be a treat for all baseball fans.

Happy Halloween and WS thoughts.

hallowen.pngAs I’m typing this I am passively watching John Carpenter’s brilliant 1978 flick Halloween as is my yearly tradition. I am a huge fan of slasher films, but this movie had a sort of “art house” quality that endears it to my heart a little more than the others. There will be no dress up or celebrations, however, as I have gratifying and exciting plans of washing dishes and clothes this evening before a glass of wine and maybe bed before 10:00. Such as it is when you’re middle aged, and I am fine with this. My friends wanted me to go to a punk rock show last night and I politely declined adding to the aforementioned lamentable situation that is my life.

I still haven’t digested this year’s entertaining/bizarre World Series and I think time will tell how we see it from a historical perspective when careers are over and certain players are deemed Hall of Fame worthy. The series started with everyone in the baseball world deeming Juan Soto the next Babe Ruth (one being the “Childish Bambino” and the latter the “Great Bambino”) and ending with Donald Dump being booed, tarred and feathered in D.C., a guy taking a home run ball to the chest so he wouldn’t spill the beers he was double-fisting, (which was turned into a Bud Light commercial and 15 minutes of fame) two models flashing their boobs on national television, (which was done for breast cancer awareness and 15 minutes of fame) and finally ending in game 7 with AJ Hinch being criticized for pulling Zack Greinke in the 7th and putting in a smattering of relievers who proceeded to throw dynamite on a bonfire while Garrit Cole sat in the bullpen acting like his dog had just died. I know it’s a cliche, but you seriously can’t make up this kind of stuff. Stephen Strasburg gets a well deserved MVP, the Nats jump around on the field, some kids in Africa will get their Houston Astros gear, and just like that…baseball season is over.

Farewell, old friend.

 

The dog days of summer are here.

Raley Field. Sacramento, Ca.

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.

He got one!

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 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 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

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.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

eck2We 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 debacle

reddickGame 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:

3.16
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!!!!!