A View from Section 139

Posts tagged ‘Oakland Athletics’

How I came Face-to-Face with Oakland A’s Pitcher Ben Sheets

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Oakland A’s pitcher, Ben Sheets has been the target of harsh criticism in more than a few of my earlier posts. No other player on the Oakland 2010 roster has infuriated me so much.

Then on a cool and rainy Sunday night in Chicago, I came face-to-face with Oakland A’s Pitcher, Ben Sheets!

I was at the end of a very long and tiring day. What started out as a fun day at AT&T Park in San Francisco ended with the sting of a 3-game sweep at hands of the cross town rivals. It was now long past midnight and there I was waiting impatiently in baggage claim in Chicago’s O’Hare’. The airport had the emptiness of the Oakland Coliseum…  during a mid-week series with the Kansas City Royals. (more…)

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Ben Sheets and the Oakland A’s – Marriage made in Hell.

You probably thought the A’s couldn’t afford to spend money in the off-season. Yet Ben Sheets and the Oakland A’s agreed on a 1-year $10 million deal in January. I am sure this was a surprise to you as it was to me. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Heck, Billy Beane needed a marquee baseball player to add to the roster and Ben Sheets needed a place to pitch. Sounds like the perfect match. But, is it a marriage made in hell?

Only time will tell if Ben Sheets will stay healthy. Unless you have a magic ball, you can’t tell how the season is going to play out. Every Spring Training all 30 baseball teams (except maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals) have visions of playing post-season baseball, winning it all and having their parade. Yes, of course. Twenty-nine teams will be watching the World Series parade in November, from their vacation spots.

I would like to see Ben Sheets do well in Oakland. Not only for his sake, but also for the Oakland A’s and their fans. After three losing seasons, uninspiring roster moves, empty stands, fans need a reason why they should show up and be excited at the Coliseum this year.

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Ben Sheets back in 1999 and he spent his entire major league career with them. The last time anyone saw him pitch was September 27, 2008. The A’s must have seen something in his workout (that no one else saw) to sign him to such a contract. Look, whether you like it or not, Ben Sheets is going to bring interest to the Athletics much like Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi did last year.

I don’t understand why baseball analysts aren’t willing to give this “marriage” a chance. Many have started to speculate as to what uniform Ben Sheets will be wearing after the July trading deadline.The Oakland A’s have a history of rehabilitating injured, washed-up players. You can’t forget Frank Thomas in 2006. He helped the A’s make it to the ALCS. I mean four games away from a World Series title. In 2009, Adam Kennedy, on the scrap heap with the Tampa Bay Rays, found his groove in Oakland. OK, so it didn’t work out with Jason Giambi, but I am sure you knew he had nothing left in the tank.

What’s your take? How many games do you think Ben Sheets will win in 2010? Do you think the A’s have a shot to be in the hunt by July?

A’s fans, Billy Beane and Bob Geren are putting their trust in Ben Sheets to lead the young staff. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzales, Dallas Braden and Vin Mazzaro. I am hoping the experiment works. So whether you like it or not, he will be taking the mound opening day for the Oakland A’s. By Mid-May you will know whether Ben Sheets and the Oakland A’s is a marriage made in hell.

5 Reasons Why The Oakland A’s Are The Best In The AL Since The All-Star Break

Reason Number 1. RAJAI DAVIS -Discarded by the cross-town rivals San Francisco Giants in 2008, we all wondered why on the earth the A’s would sign him. Raj had limited playing time and struggled at the plate. Fans kept waiting for him to show his speed and steal bases. Eyes popped and tongues when wagging when he was brought back to a crowded outfield in 2009. Fans called for his release when his production was dismal. Fast- forward to September 2009.
– Raj is the only A’s player batting above .300. I mean when was the last time a player on the A’s was batting .317.
– He has 39 stolen bases to date with a .375 OBP and .429 SLG.
Raj creates runs, disrupts the opposing team and causes them to panic.

Reason Number 2. ANDREW BAILEY – Last year this time Bailey was struggling as a starter in AA Midland going 0-8. Maybe someone saw something in him that showed he could be a relief pitcher. He was converted to the bullpen and invited to Spring Training. No one expected him to make the roster. Yet at the July All-Star game in St. Louis, Bailey was the only rookie and the lone Oakland A’s representative. To date he has 25 saves – surpassing the record set by Huston Street in 2006. Bailey has 20 consecutive saves and is on a list with the likes of Mariano Rivera, Huston Street.
Andrew Bailey has distinguished himself as the 2009 AL Rookie of the year.

Reason Number 3. KURT SUZUKI – When the A’s promoted Suzuki to the big leagues, the writing was on the wall for Jason Kendall. A good veteran catcher and a solid member of the team. However, as the A’s have proven, youth is the building block of the organization. At the all-star break, a nervous Kurt Suzuki took over the reins of calling the game. His contributions have been valuable to the team since. He is leading the league in innings, improved his defense and works hard on his offense. In addition, he gives back to the community. What an amazing guy.

VOTE FOR KURT SUZUKI FOR THE 2009 ROBERTO CLEMENTE AWARD

Reason Number 4 – BRETT ANDERSON- Hands down, he is he ‘ace’ of the A’s. He was highly touted as part of the “Little Three, the M-A-C Attack”. He has come of age. I know it is early to anoint him the next Cy Young Award Winner, but his performance has been spectacular.
A career-high 10 strikeouts against the Cleveland Indians at the Oakland Coliseum Friday night. With extra days rest, he seemed to have gotten stronger as the season went on. His poise on the mound and confidence in his pitches has propelled him to a .500 record this far.
His 1-hit performance against the Boston Red Sox earlier this year went largely unnoticed nationally. For A’s fans, it was a sign of things to come. Whenever he is on the mound, the team has the confidence that they will win the game.
In 28 games, so far he has pitched 164.2 innings with 139 strikeouts. What a performance.

Reason Number 5. THE BULLPEN. Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Brad Ziegler, Santiago Casilla, Jeff Gray, Edgar Gonzalez.
Need I say more!

You can’t to talk to Billy Beane or Lew Wolff….but you can send them a letter!

Lately, the press has been less than kind to the Oakland Athletics. Most recently,Ray Ratto on SF Gate and Monte Poole in the Mercury News. Demoralizing to say the least if, you are a fan. I cannot imagine what the players are feeling in that locker room.

No sympathy from me, it’s partly their fault.

Somehow, they manage to keep leaving the hitting behind on the team bus or in their cars. Because it’s nowhere to be found at the plate.

The rest of the blame lies with the Manger, GM and Owner.

I decided to take matters in my own hand today and call the Executive Offices of the Oakland A’s. I was determined to talk to Lew Wolff or Billy Beane so I could tell them what’s on MY mind.

Once the phone rings, you have to pay attention to the prompts and decide which option to choose. Unless you know your party’s extension, which I did not, tough luck.

I by-passed all opions and decided to stay on the line. Hoping someone would talk to me.

I did not have to wait long before I got a live person.

I told her immediately, I wished like to speak to someone about my frustrations with the team and the extremely bad press lately. She said, the staff is feeling the same way.

I told her I wanted to talk to Billy Beane or Lew Wolff since I haven’t heard any comments from them in months. She told me Billy Beane appeared on COMCASTSPORTS yesterday at 5pm. Too bad, I missed it.

Then she told me I could write a letter to the press!

What!!!

“I don’t want to write to the Press, I want to talk to Billy Beane or Lew Wolff”!

Next she suggested I should write them a letter. I realized then, this was to be my first and last stop in
The A’s Executive Offices. I was on the phone to nowhere.

You bet. I am going to write two letters. One to Billy Beane and the other to Lew Wolff.

I asked if my letters will get to their destination or passed off to their Assistants. She assured me they get all letters addressed to them. She politely gave me the address to send my letters.

I wished her a great afternoon and thanked her for her time.

Billy Beane, Lew Wolff my letters are on the way!

2009 All Star Game – It does matter

I don’t know how you feel about the Baseball All-Star game. But I was very excited on Tuesday. I could not wait to get home to see first pitch.

• The pre-game festivities.
• The All Stars Among Us Tribute by all living Presidents.
• The AL and NL line up
• Stan Musial – King of St. Louis …until Albert J. Pujols came to town.

And of course POTUS, Barack Obama. The Prez took the time to greet each player in the clubhouse. I mean, what a thrill. I don’t think any player was more excited than Ichiro Suzuki was. Did you catch his reaction when POTUS autographed that ball? WOW.

I must admit, I was “pumped” to watch Tim Lincecum. OK, so he plays for the Giants, but he is a fantastic pitcher. He threw two complete games against the A’s in consecutive starts. Give credit, where credit is due!

I think too much adrenaline was rushing through that 5’11” frame; he just could not display his stuff. Too many pitches in that first inning. Giving up two runs. It happens. Dan Haren suffered a similar fate in his All-Star start. It’s baseball.

Can you imagine how Albert Pujols feels? No player in the game wanted to win more. The host of the All-Star festivities. The Face of St. Louis. And what happens? Error in the first. It was bad enough he “flamed out in the Home Run Derby Monday night. But the pressure of wanting to make that OUT.

Its baseball. That’s why we love the game.

So in 2009, the AL dominance continues.

The All-Star game does matter. The NL, vying to remove the stigma of not winning since 1996. Home field advantage to the winning league. It did matter.

Players were diving to catch balls. Bringing back homerun balls. Diving into third by legging out a triple. Come on, the game does matter. Why would Charlie Manuel walk Victor Martinez to get to Adam Jones?
Because winning the game did matter.

You can criticize Commissioner Selig and his insistence on making the game matter. But, guess what? Players now take the game seriously. They want to win. They understand playing hard and winning determine who gets to start the World Series at home. Moreover, they get paid extra for being named an All-Star.

So. Andrew Bailey, the A’s lone representative did not get in the game. That didn’t matter. I was still proud to see the Green and Gold in the dugout. Just imagine, AB getting a chance to be the teammate of the likes of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Roy Halliday. Must have been a thrill.

It was a good game. Probably the best All-Star game I have seen. It was enjoyable to watch. I still find it hard to believe I sat and listened to Joe Buck and Time McCarver the entire game!

The 2009 All-Star game was good game. One that mattered. It mattered to the NL.

Just ask Orlando Hudson.

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Another day, another trade-Will the move hurt or help the Oakland A’s

I hardly had time to come to terms with Scott Hairston coming to Oakland this past Tuesday. He arrived in exchange for Triple A power pitcher Ryan Webb. By the way Webb pitched two innings  against the Giants in Jonathan Sanchez no-hitter.

I am still in shock that Travis Buck was back in Sacramento. He was called up less than a week before. Although he has struggled since his 2006 debut, he is a fan favorite.  I don’ think he has been given a chance to prove himself. OK so he had a chance last year  but he was injured. Injuries are a part of baseball.

On Saturday third baseman Jack Hannahan was sent to the Mariners.

 I’m not sure what the A’s are trying to do. It’s hard to keep up.  Some folks like to say,  “It’s Billy Being Billy. A’s fans are used to it”.

Are we really? How long  do we have to accept dismantling of the team as business as usual? What about getting rid of Bob Geren? 

The Rockies weren’t afraid to let Clint Hurdle go early in the season. Look at their performance since.

Can you blame fans for not showing up at the Coliseum? Let’s face it; the team needs a new ballpark. The A’s and the Florida Marlins are the only teams now playing in a dual-purpose park. At least the Marlins are on the move.

I have a feeling, the next time the A’s are at home, we will be missing a few more of our faves.

Sick and tired of Yankees-Red Sox

There are many americans who enjoy the game and root for only one team. The other 29 teams do not matter to them. In most cases they could not name a player on another team. I really enjoy watching baseball and I love to watch all the teams play. With each game there is a chance you will see something new. That is what makes the game great.   One never knows when the players you heckle on the other team becomes the guy you root for when  comes over to your team.

 It is the start of the weekend and so many games to watch. However, my goodness, is it necessary for everyone outside of
Boston and
New York to be forced to see the 3-game series on national television for the entire weekend?

  • ESPN’s Friday Night Baseball with the Baseball Tonight studio crew calling the game. (The worst play-by-play I have heard in a long time, I mean, it wasn’t really play-by-play. Just three men enjoying the game and pretending that they were working. Thanks Dusty for trying to provide us with some analysis).
  • On Saturday, FOX Sports Game of the Week. By the way, your local teams will be “blacked-out” on television as well as on MLB.TV. That’s right, at least last year; we had a few weeks to enjoy the games on Saturdays before FOX’s national monopoly coverage took effect. Not so this year, I mean, why wait, let’s flex our muscles “right off the bat”! I have always enjoyed going to the Saturday afternoon 1:05 pm games. By 4 pm, we are leaving the ballpark and getting on with your life. However, in 2007, someone somewhere decided that since they had the power, they would force some teams to start their games at 6:30 pm instead.
  • To cap off our wonderful weekend of Sports, ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. More Yankees- Red Sox.

OK so Friday’s game was interesting. The Yankees were up 6-2 heading to the bottom of the 8th inning. A-Rod already the hero, (2hr, 2B). The Yankees were already planning how to celebrate their game1 win. But wait, here comes “Sand Man” in the bottom of the 8th to get 5 outs. No problem, big lead, Mr. Automatic, put up that “W.”Then… shades of last Sunday in
Oakland! Yankees leading the Athletics 4-2, two out, two on, we look at the scoreboard – Magic Marco, “Mr. Clutch”- walking towards the plate. “Did I see that right, Avg. . . 050. That is not even an average, better if it was .000. On top of that, he is 1-20 coming to the plate…I thought for sure, no hope, Yankees once again trounce the A’s.It gets even better, Marco – 0-2, hits a screaming line drive…foul! OK, so Marco has one more shot to at least get a hit. I thought next pitch for sure, he’s gone, and all the fans go home with another disappointing loss. For sure, there is no way that Marco can avoid Mariano’s signature pitch –  ” The Cutter”. With all the confidence in the world, Mariano steps up to the rubber and unleashes his pitch….. And then it happened before we knew what was going on. In the blink of an eye, game over….. Off the left field foul pole, 3-run shot, everyone in the Coliseum on their feet, screaming like maniacs in disbelief. The A’s defeat the Yankees 5-4 and Mariano walks off the mound shaking his head in disbelief. “What just happened here?” Sandman that will be recorded in the box scores as a “blown save.” You don’t see too many of those beside his name.So back to Friday’s game and Mariano has a chance to redeem himself. What better place to do it than at Fenway. Crowd on their feet, clapping and cheering, it doesn’t get any better than this….But, it was not to be, at least not this time…….5 runs in the bottom of the 8 and the Red Sox come from behind to win the game. Oops, another blown save in back-to-back starts. If he was shocked in
Oakland, then he was really stunned at Fenway. I am sure he had whiplash spinning around to watch the balls race to the outfield to score some more runs.Now all the excuses will come, “He hasn’t pitched in a number of days”,  “his arm was not fresh.” “He was asked to get 5 outs”, “he was scared by the Ugly Green Uniforms of the Red Sox”. What was that anyway? OK, so it was in honor of Red Auerbach,

Fenway
Park, whatever. The team just looked like a bunch of Leprechauns. But you know what, they got the win and that is all that matters.To add insult to injury, every time I turn the TV on to watch the sports highlights, I see A-Rod’s homer going over the fence and CoCo Crisp falling into the bullpen from all different camera angles. Enough already. Just to think there are 18 more such encounters before we get to October.At this point nobody cared that the
Oakland A’s had just scored 16 runs off
Texas in the first meeting with an old friend, Ron Washington. But I do have to admit, that I can’t help but watch the Yankees- Red Sox games. You never know what you might miss. To think I rooted for the Yankees when I lived in
New York. Once I moved West, I was “healed” from the curse of the Yankees at McAfee Coliseum, by the laying on of hands. Just when I thought I have enough Yankees-Red Sox for the month of April, the two teams will meet again next weekend, this time in the
Bronx. I am sure that Mariano will be looking to redeem himself in front of his home crowd. I am sure he will be OK; it is a long, long way to go before October. Who knows, he may not have to wait until next weekend! There are still 2 more chances to record his first Save of 2007, before we all go back to work on Monday. See ya later!