Friday, April 4, 2008

Tough to be a fan

I've been rather quiet lately because there hasn't been too much going on. My parents were in town for a week, but other than that not much has happened.

One thing that did happen is that baseball season started. I watched the first two games the A's played, taking on Boston in Japan. The first game was rather frustrating because it should've been a win, but our closer Huston Street gave up a home run in the 9th to tie the game. But what really made it upsetting was the fact that we let the game slip away when Brown decided to try to stretch a double into a triple and was tagged out by a mile. The next two batters both singled, so if Brown wouldn't have tried to be a hero, we would've most definitely scored, and gone on to win the game.

The next game Rich Harden pitched a masterpiece of a game with 9 strikeouts. Of course, our biggest weakness is our bullpen and they gave up 2 runs, but we still walked away with a win.

The next two games in the series were played back in Oakland, and from here I really got a good picture of what to look forward to this season. It's not pretty. In the third game the A's were shutout. Now to be honest, there is no surprise here. I'll get more into that later. In the fourth game, Rich Harden again pitched a superb game giving up one run and striking out 6 batters in as many innings. But our lack of offense and our bullpen again turned what could've been a win into another loss.

So we're not even 5 games into the season and yet we're already 1-3, and last in our division. Here's what makes it so hard to be an A's fan. I love good old-fashioned style of baseball. My heroes were never the guys that played long ball and swung for the fences. Home runs are great, but they're not the only thing. The greatest players in the history of the game, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb didn't hit home runs, they played small ball. It was about hits, doubles, triples, bunts and steals. I've liked the A's for as far back as I can remember, but the golden days for me was when Ricky Henderson was on the team. Henderson was the lead-off batter and would get on base. Next pitch he's on second, and on the third pitch he's at third. The man was brilliant when it came to stealing. Here the pitcher of the opposing team is facing just his second batter, and he's got a man on third. More than likely Henderson was going to score to give the A's a run and build some momentum in the first inning. Sure we had the Bash Brothers of Canseco and McGuire in those days. But even Canseco stole bases. He was the first member of the 40/40 club (for those of you who don't follow baseball that's 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases).

These days the A's rank last in stolen bases. They count on the 3-run home run or advancing runners one hit at a time. We have an owner that refuses to spend any serious money on the team, a GM who micromanages and, yes, has seen some success but has not sent us to the World Series. We get stuck with managers who stay in the dugout, are very quiet, have no personality, and are "yes" men to the GM.

Sometimes I feel like we're just a AAAA Minor League team for the rest of baseball. We develop exceptional players, but then we never hang on to them. A year ago we had some outstanding players. They were all traded away for MINOR LEAGUE PROSPECTS!!! Nick Swisher is an outstanding player. A wonderful hitter, a remarkable fielder and a great personality off the field. He's now gone. Dan Haren was a starting pitcher in our rotation who was really starting to come into his own. No longer with the A's.

Last year should've been a great year for the A's. We got hit with some injuries, and so we really suffered. Out of 162 games, I believe we only played 8 with all our starting players. That's okay though. Instead the team went into panic mode and decided to make this year a "re-building year". But yet, our biggest felt injuries are still on the team. Chavez is still on the DL for his bulging disc. Rich Harden has sat out the majority of the previous two seasons. I like Chavez and I REALLY like Harden. But if that is your weak point then get rid of them, don't get rid of the part of the team that works.

Anyways, I don't want to rant too long. If Rich Harden can stay healthy, then he will be phenomenal. Two games and 15 strikeouts is incredible. If Bobby Crosby can stay healthy then he should start to come into his own. Mark Ellis seems to have a lot of potential for success.

But for the most part, until we get an owner who will spend money on the team, a GM who doesn't micromanage, and a team that plays actual baseball, with bunts and stolen bases, we'll continue to be off the nation's radar.

Could be worse, at least we're not celebrating our 100th Anniversary since our last World Series title like the least not yet anyways.

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