Friday, April 30, 2004
The A's haven't exactly come out mad tonight. They've gone six up, six down against a TBD-Ray named Waechter. Uh, who?
UPDATE: Waechter gave up three hits tonight. Two of them counted -- 2 HR's to Ruby 'Where have you been all year?' Durazo. Waechter then hit Crosby and was ejected. No doubt a Lou Pinella-ordered beaning (rooks just don't do that) which, if you ask me, will backfire. The A's suck (of late) and they don't care. Why fire them up by knocking off the crown jewel?
I'm still not worried. Oh sure, I'm worried about Zito. And Kielty. And Kotsay. And Macha's penchant for the Frank Menechino's and Eric Karros' of the world. Or Damian Miller's handling of the pitching staff. And the fact that Tampa Bay is a better team this year. But I'm still not worried.
What? What's that you say? It's not even May yet and we're playing this bad? Ummmm......at least we're not the Giants.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Based on last year's stats, you would think Ken Macha would only let Eric Karros bat against lefties. But he hasn't -- Karros has only two more at bats against lefties (18) than righties (16). And the sad thing is, he hits righties better, batting just .111 against southpaws. Yuck.
I don't even want to talk about Tuesday's game. It sent me into a tailspin of cheap wine and expensive poker games that I'm still recovering from. A bender of the first order, it is, and I'm going going through women like Texas No. 3 starter goes through the middle of the A's lineup -- quick and easy.
Bloody hell. Do we always have to outplay the Yankees and STILL get beat by them? (The 5-1 game being an exception -- I can take a whoopin'). They have no fire. To remedy this, I'm building a portable cattle prod that pops up from behind the left-handed batter's box. Next time Chavey gets up there and looks lethargic, he gets hit with 10,000 volts and charges the pitcher. There's your new attitude, Mr. Eric "I need some downtime in Bellvue" Chavez.
Now it's up to Gascan Zito to stymie what is now a Five Game Losing Streak. But ya know what? I'm not worried. We played well for most of the first three weeks, and the Five Game Losing Streak hasn't killed us: We're only two games out of first. No one's hitting, and no one's pitching. That won't last forever.
And Tampa Bay is on the horizon.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Chavey hits a long home run to put the A's up. Tim Hudson, playing the roll of Bad Huddy, gives up four in the bottom of the inning -- largely to the bottom of the Yanks order.
The A's tie it up in the top, but a larger rally was killed when the 4'7" Italian joke-of-the-month rolled into a double play.
More to come...
Take it back, Frankie. Thanks for the single (though it could have been a double play, too).
And Jon -- Have you SEEN Dancer in the Dark? Zzzzzzz.......
Huddy has snapped back to life -- 76 pitched starting the sixth, with Mussina at 110 through the top. Huddy struck out Giambi looking to start. Let's Go A's.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
The season sure looks like it's getting away from the Giants in a
hurry. Last night was a perfect example. While Jason Schmidt got
knocked around pretty thoroughly in his second start back from the
disabled list, the big problem for the Giants has been their offensive
output. Last night's tally: 0 runs, 4 hits.
Outside of Bonds, there isn't a lot going on. Only Grissom and Durham
have averages over .300. Snow, Perez, Alfonzo, and Tucker/Hammonds all
are underproducing, way below even my own diminished expectations. Sure
the pitching has been awful. Williams has been pretty good, but
everyone else looks bad. But this team needs to score runs to have a
shot. Of course that isn't going to happen.
Oh, and Jason: Mick LaSalle sucks. Lars Von Trier does not.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
We won the rubber match tonight, 7-1 over the Angels. Bobby Crosby essentially ended the game with a 2-run home run to put us up 4-1. So far, the A's have taken two out of every three-game series they've played. Not bad for a team that starts slow.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Heckuva game last night against the Angels. A's couldn't sustain rallies, but got three pitches that they knew what to do with. Jermaine Dye's was incredible, him whipping around on an inside fastball - by Bartolo Colon. Hudson was brilliant again -- it's pretty ovbious that the guy has learned that he won't get much run support as the No. 1 starter, and the way to remedy that is by refusing to let the other team get anything at all. We will have fun against the Angels this year.
Coupla notes - Ron Washington's reaction to the amazing Scutaro-glove-flip-to-a-bare-handed-Crosby double play in Texas. "Marco had the time to do it right. If that ball goes over Bobby's head, all hell breaks loose." Once a coach, always a coach.
The A's also managed to get something for Harville, even after designating him for assignment. Harville is now an Astro (a team that seems to collect pitchers exactly like him), while the A's get Kirk Saarloos.
Saarloos' recent 2003 AAA nummbers are OK -- 58 hits and 11 walks in 65 innings, while giving up 5 HRs. Though he pitched mostly relief for Cal St. Fullerton in college, he is a starter who throws 88 max, with command of his pitches. Is about 6 feet, 180. Could be somebody, probably won't, but definately worth the flyer since Harville was on the way out anyway.
Hey this Billy Beane cat might end up pretty good.
Friday, April 16, 2004
The Boston Globe's review of Kill Bill Vol. 2 actually begins: "When was the last time you got high from a movie?"
The San Franisco Chronicle? "It's clear that the release of the film in two parts was an artistic blunder, a triumph of ego and greed over reason."
Of course Mick La Salle is an idiot. In what has to be the most critical three-star review in the history of American cirticism, he also goes on to suggest that the films could have been collapsed into a single 2 hr 20 min. piece. Just paragraphs later, though, he priases Quentin Tarantino's "throwaway conversations." The same one's La Salle just wanted to throw away?
If you combined the Chronicle's overheated sports columnists with their limp, undercooked movie reviewers, you just might have something. Then again, you might have C.W. Nevius.
As a group, the critics at Fifth and Market have lost sight of what movies are for. This isn't PBS, folks. The movies don't have to be slow, or dark (literally), nor do they have to mine the landscape of the miserable. The critics praise dialogue that pretends to mimic real life, but reads like conversations no one ever has, anywhere. They praise plots by half-mad English majors. In every movie, someone most cry -- preferable two people, in same same scene. Small budgets help. The Chronicle critics tape these 'films' up on their refrigerators and call them masterpieces.
When I went to see Kill Bill, Vol. 1, I was shocked. Not by what I saw, but what I didn't . I was prepped for stultifying, insulting violence by Bay Area movie reviewers. I was shocked that I didn't get it. In an 'infamous' scene where Uma Thurman bashes a rapists head with a door, I was suprised to see that at no time did we see said door hit said head. Which, being left up to our imagination, made it all the more violent. Isn't that what critics want, movies that aren't spelled out so explicitly? In the final scene, Uma gleefully slashed off arms and legs in, yes, an orgy of violence. But when she does, about 70 tiny streams of watery red liquid spurt out of the severed limb. It looks nothing like what we see every Thursday night on ER. It's a cartoon.
This is what had people up in arms?
The praise of Vol. 2 is damn near universal. The New York Times falls all over itself. The Boston Globe gets high. Newsday's tongue lolls to the side in wonder. Ebert calls it easily one of the best movies of the year. But Tarantino apparently doesn't jibe with the Chronicle's style. Meanwhile, La Salle praises Dogville as a cinematic triumph, even if he admits nearly falling asleep in the first hour. At least Ebert, after mentioning that he checked to see if his watch was working, still called Dogville dogshit.
Have you ever surfed? That's what Kill Bill Vol. 1 was like. Pure exhileration. I'm looking forward to Vol. 2, because the ability to do that to an audience has largely been lost, and it's certainly lost on the Chronicle's critics.
Where the hell did Wesley Morris go?
Thursday, April 15, 2004
As I write, Rich Harden is keeping the A's in front of the Rangers by pitching effectively -- through four innings, he's walked none.
Last year's phenom was recalled from AAA to start today, which mean the A's had to make a choice they've avoided since the spring -- exposing either Chad Harville or Justin Duscherer to the wire. Both pitchers are out of options.
Of the two, only Harville saw time this season -- one pitch that retired Alfonso Soriano the other day. The SF Chronicle made much of this one pitch, but I think their tea-leaf reading was all wrong. The A's were right to expose Harville to the wire, while keeping Duscherer.
Harville is replacable. He had been tapped of the closer of the future, but if he doesn't have that job by now he probably never will. Duscherer is the reigning PCL pitcher fo the year, and proved he could do the job by shutting out the Angels over seven innings in his major league debut last year ... while his wife was in the hospital giving birth to their first child. Talk about a day to remember.
There may not be a place for either of these guys in the A's future. But Harville -- though I love his heat and his name -- doesn't fetch as much on the open market as Duscherer. We'll see if we lose Harville -- probably. But it would be nice to have him back as insurance against the A's positively flamable middle relief.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
So you're on the verge of demoralizing a team, sending them to 0-6 to start the season in an insanely tough division. About to go up five on them, after six games. I'm talking Full Metal Jacket, Vincent Donofrio-in-the-bathroom-with-a-shotgun demoralized. And you blow it. You let them get up off the mat.
People will blame Arthur Rhodes, but I won't. And people who read this should know I'm no fan of Arthur Rhodes. All the hits off him were weak. Instead, the blame for this falls at the feet of Eric Karros, Ken Macha's special friend.
One down (on a K) and the second batter hits a ball behind second. Scutaro ranges far for it, catches it, and makes a hurried throw -- which he didn't have to make. Regardless, the ball was on line, though weakly thrown. It bounces in front of Karros -- not an easy short hop, and not an easy long hop either -- but still a lightly thrown ball on which Karros could have done a couple of jumping jacks between the time it bounced and the time it hit his glove. Karros missed it, and from there the gates were opened.
The rest of the hits were grounders through the infield. One was hit hit slightly to Karros' right, when he was holding a runner on first. He was slow to react, and when he did got no push on his lunge toward the ball. I swear to God (and remember this is Easter, so I'm not throwing that arfound lightly) Scott Hatteberg gets that ball. The worst part is, after Karros dives and misses, he throws on this overly dramatic act while on the ground, as if the effort was so much that it sent him into spasms. Bullshit. I'm sorry, but that was pathetic in the first degree. I'm pissed we lost that game, and I blae Eric Karros.
There. That feels better. At least Mickelson won the Masters. Here's to Lefty.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
On Opening Day we saw that the bad Tim Hudson can still be petty good. On Saturday, we were reminded of how good the good Hudson can be. It wasn't on par with the 'versus Pedro' game, but look at this:
9 IP, 4 hits, 0 BB, 1 run, 18 ground ball outs, 86 pitches
Three of the four hits were in the first inning, as was the run. But for a single and an error, Hudson was perfect for the last eight innings. The 18 grounders accounted for 20 outs (there were two DPs) and he averaged less than 10 pitches an inning. Wow.
Friday, April 09, 2004
In the history of the World, from pleistocene era through the Roman Empire through San Francisco in the 60s, no one has ever recommended a trip to Modesto. Ever.
Let me be the first.
Three of the A's top four draft picks in the 2003 amateur draft are playing for the Modesto A's -- starting pitcher Brad Sullivan (1st pick), infielder Omar Quintanella (3rd) and outfielder Andre Ethier (4th). The first two guys are near locks for Major Leagues success.
Tickets are five bucks for general admission (splurge on the eight dollar tickets if you want to sit behind home plate). On Thursdays, Budweisers are $1 through the seventh inning (as if anyone drinking dollar beers for seven innings is going to sober up in the next two), and the California League has some pretty damn good players -- last year, future phenom Josh Barfield played the entire season here.
So go East young man. Modesto's only an hour away.
I had an excellent record at A's games last year: something like 8-1. They lost the first game I went to this year on Wednesday, 2-1 to Texas, in what was the last game of the opening series. Sad to see 'em go: Jermain Dye, 2 HRs and five RBIs in the series. Glad to see 'em go: Damian Miller, still looking for his first A's hit.
Some observations: 20,000 on a Wednesday afternoon game is not bad. ... I ate five dollar hot dogs, which I didn't think I was capable of. ... At one point Vida Blue walked the plaza level -- but no one recognized him. People, on the banner where the five Oakland Cy Young winners are listed, he's the first one. ... along those same lines, a conversation overheard while waiting in line to buy an A's hat: (Kid, looking at the cover of the A's program) 'Mommy, who's that?' Mom: 'I don't know.' It was Dennis Eckersley. ... Worst fan T-shirt -- Carlos Pena. ... Could Alfonso Soriano wear his pants any tighter? I'm noticing this from about five hundred feet. I don't even want to know what they're like up close. ... Bobby Crosby is big, real big. Already bigger than most of his teammates. Makes the third baseman look like a shrimp. ... All the breaks went the Rangers' way, which will be a good team this year (they're beating up on the undefeated Angels as I write). ... Francisco Cordero is the Rangers' closer, not Carlos Almanzar. It won't be long though. ... Why did Ken Macha pinch-hit Eric Karros against a tough righty with two out in the ninth? Maybe it had something to do with that serious case of bedhead Macha was sporting before the game.
Very soon, I'll get around to that debate about which of the Big Three you let go.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
David Aardsma, who last year was the closer for Rice University, out-shined his fellow Houstonian Andy Pettitte to get his first major league win. Actually Aardsma is from Colorado, but he did have 33 friends and family in the stands at Minute Maid Park last night. Aardsma also set aside an even bigger legened of the game last night. Next time they publish the Baseball Encyclopedia, he'll be the first player listed, bumping Henry Aaron to number two.
The game was an example of lost chances for the Astros. Brett Tomko had problems with command especially in the first two innings. He racked up a 62 pitch count in the first two frames, although he only gave up a run early. Key for Tomko was getting Adam Everett and Jeff Bagwell (who looks old) to strike out with the bases loaded in the first. Tomko didn't get an out in the fifth before Cap'tn Hook Alou came out to get the ball. Giants relievers didn't fare much better keeping the Astros off the basepaths. Even Aardsma gave up three hits in his two innings. All-in-all, the Astros left 16 runners on base. Meanwhile Pettitte was finding out what it is like to pitch at the Juice Box. He lasted 5 and a third innings, surrendering 11 hits and six runs. His nemesis? Neifi Perez, who went four for four on the day. Key being a two-out bases-loaded double that cleared the bases in the fourth.
Welcome home Andy.
Roger Clemens goes up against Jerome Williams as the Giants go for the sweep Wednesday.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Arthur Rhodes is on pace to get 162 saves...
The good thing about tonight's game is that Bobby Crosby got his first major league hit in his 17th major league at bat. Congratulations. Of course he was promply erased on a Damian Miller double play ball. Won't be the last time you hear that....
3-1 was the final, the difference being a long home run by Jermaine Dye. Mark Mulder struck out Mark Teixeira all three times they met. I was talking with friends the other day about which one of the Big Three you let go. The consensus was Barry Zito, but I'm starting to have second thoughts -- even with Mulder's performance. I'll explain why tomorrow after I go to the game. The Great Zito is pitching.
By the way, new Texas closer Carlos Almanzar left AAA-Louisville in disgust last year after failing to be promoted. He had a case -- the guy struck out 54 and walked three. Three. And he looked very good tonight in a limited showcase. Watch this guy.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Bethany Hamilton, a 14-year-old surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack, throws a first pitch strike to fellow surfer Barry Zito. The A's present her with an autographed surfboard, which is nice. Unfortunately, the A's new marketing campaign is crassly displayed on the board. The opposition is Kenny Rogers, who's beaten the A's something like 167 times in a row.
Jermaine Dye goes to right, doubling in a run. Dye had a great spring and ruined the Giants in an exhibition game Saturday. Let's hope he's back. 1-0.
Hudson starts getting seriously squeezed by Dana Demuth. Has this guy earned nothing in this league? He's won more games than any other pitcher except Randy Johnson over the last four years. Demuth calls ball four to force in a run. Husdon yells an expletive. The two growl once the inning ends. 1-1.
Eric Chavez gets a hit off Rogers, which is a good sign considering he was terrible against southpaws last year. Rogers then walks Dye on four pitches, looking like he's lost feel on his breaking stuff. On the mound, he blows on his hands repeatedly. It's cold at the Coliseum tonight. Rogers hits Erubiel Durazo. He walks Eric Karros on four pitches to force in a run. But Crosby pops out with the bases loaded. Fox Sports has a great shot of Dye giving a talk to an obviously frustrated Crosby. 2-1.
Hudson is less than at his best tonight, but in typical fashion is skating through when he needs to make good pitches. Whoops! Smash past Chavez that ties the score. Huddy's probably got two innings left, max. Texas -- which has the nucleus of a great offense with Alfonso Soriano, Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira -- is hitting a lot of balls hard. We'll get a taste of that revamped A's bullpen tonight. NASTY sinker strikes out Blalock on a 3-2 count with Soriano on deck. 2-2.
A hit and a walk to start the inning bring Curt Young out for his first mound visit as the A's pitching coach. I miss the mullet, but the mullet's in New York now and I just have to get over it. Coming with one out the in fifth, Hudson's 100th pitch almost hits David Dellucci. On the 101st, scrub Marco Scutaro makes a cat-like play at second to force a runner. Huddy gets out with a 106 pitches, but he's probably done.
Leading off, Bobby Kielty doubles over Dellucci, who appeared to take a bad angle on the ball. Defense wins championships. Kielty scores the go-ahead run on another hard-hit ball by Dye. 3-2.
First new reliever: Chris Hammond. First batter: breaks bat in three pieces. I can throw faster than Hammond, but he's breaking bats. Another good sign.
Crosby looks over-anxious at the plate. Damian Miller looks hopeless. Defense wins championships, but you gotta score.
Hammond starts the inning with a 72 mile-an-hour pitch, but Brad Fullmer missed it by a foot. Later, Hammond leaves one up. Apparently when he does that, it's happy happy joy joy. Teixeira rides one over the centerfield wall. Don't we have something like umpteen-million pitchers on the roster, Ken Macha? Use them. Why stretch the situational guy over two innings. 4-3.
Jeff Nelson is on the Rangers? Huh. Too bad he got seperated from tag-team buddy Karim Garcia. Maybe they'll reunite for a match against the Iron Shiek and Junkyard Dog. The bad news is the Rangers got seven innings out of Rogers, which means they can try to close the game out with their only two good relievers, Nelson and the closer, whoever that is.
Durazo singles to lead off. Karros is left in against the righty Nelson and delivers a single. (Why are we paying Scott Hatteberg a million-plus?) Crosby up. C'mon kid ... Nope. Good news is the grounder was so weakly hit they couldn't turn two. Bad news is, Miller's up. Wait! Billy McMillon is pinch hitting. Should be making McMillions the way he hit last year. Playing percentages, Buck Showalter brings in Ron Mahay. My book says Jeff Nelson's a better pitcher than Ron Mahay. Macha burns McMillion and puts in Eric Byrnes. Byrnes doubles in two!!!! Fire Buck Showalter! The A's announcers are actually laughing at Showalter! Hey, but at least he's got a dress code on team flights.
Arthur Rhodes is coming in. I'm afraid.
Super scrub Scutaro makes a brilliant defensive play behind second base to get the leadoff man. Looks like he can handle himself as well as, oh, Mark Ellis out there.
Pop out, two down. Dellucci had a decent night, but Showalter pulls him for... Herbert Perry? The managing talent in Texas is astonishing. A weak looper falls in. I'm sure Showalter feels like a genius.
What's the matter with Kevin? He's a Mench! is up and quickly falls behind 0-2. Three straight balls and it's 3-2. Goes down swinging.
A lot things were promising about tonight, but it still feels like we stole one. I guess that's what winning teams do. Houston and the Red Sox are in last place, and the Yankees are a .500 team. There's a lot of baseball left, but it's good to have the game back.
Jimy Williams could well be on thin ice this year if the Astros don't get off to a hot start. He sure showed that he might be well on his way to helping it along. With the Giants looking up at a three run deficit in the eighth inning, Williams watched Roy Oswalt give up singles to both Ray Durham and Michael Tucker around a JT Snow strikeout.
With Oswalt nearing the 100-pitch mark and Barry Bonds coming up in the top of the 8th, you’d think time to go to the best bullpen in the NL, right? Yeah, not really. First pitch Bonds sees he tomahawks a line drive into the right field bleachers. Tie game. A three-run homer.
And yes, you’d have to imagine that Williams knew that there was indeed a base open and a three-run jack would tie the game. Bonds only had three three-run homers last year, and they all came with a significant run difference in the game. As a matter of fact, Bonds had almost as many walks (38) as he had at bats (45) with two men on last year. Let the second-guessing begin.
After F-Rod gets the Astros out in order, Octavio Dotel comes out and premieres as the team’s new closer. He promptly pegs Tony Torcado in the foot on a curveball. After a sacrifice bunt by Durham, Dotel loses control of another curve, pushing the runner to third base. Snow golfs a low fastball for a flyout to right, the runner tags, 5-4 Giants.
But the Astros also had some bad luck on opening night. Both Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent were called out for making contact with a batted ball outside of the box. Kent’s was exceptionally painful, coming with two outs and the bases loaded and Kirk Rueter looking like he might be toast. Mark it in your scorebook as 2-unassited.
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