Monday, July 16, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Here we are again!

I am really impressed with all the awesome photos that Ed got to snap at the All-Star festivities in San Francisco, and I hope everyone takes a good look below, if you haven’t seen them already. How cool! Ed deserves kudos as a photographer, in addition to being a great writer!

As for me, I am beginning to wallow in the misery of the Oakland Athletics. What started out as a promising season is going belly-up. Have I given up hope for the A’s? No, not quite yet. Anyone who watches baseball somewhat regularly knows that the A’s have a habit of going on an incredible run in the second half—they’ve done it the last several years in a row. So even if they did not make the playoffs, they were always in contention for a spot right up until the final week of the season.

This year? Not so sure. As of this writing, the Green and Gold lost their last three before the All-Star Game and their first four since play resumed to create a season-worst seven-game losing streak and drop them four games under .500 for the first time this year. During those seven games, the A’s have been outscored by their opponents 37–15 and have posted a measly batting average of .155. In their nine games before Sunday, the A’s scored three runs or less—the first time they have done that since 1978. Please note that in 1978, in the middle year of a three-year swoon of terrible baseball, the team went 69–93. Also note that they only scored three runs Sunday, as well.

We spoiled fans have come to expect more than this from teams assembled by General Manager Billy Beane. Not that I object to a down year or two in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like the A’s are the Kansas City Royals or Tampa Bay Devil Rays—I mean, there HAVE been winning seasons around here. Why, just last year, the A’s took the AL West and made it into the ALCS, and the team has been to the playoffs in five of the last seven years.

Maybe the team’s success last year makes this year seem all the more disappointing. I know there have been injuries—Mike Piazza, Rich Harden (again), Justin Duchscherer, Mark Kotsay. But other teams have them, too, and the ones who surmount them play in October. The A’s just don’t seem capable of making a run this year, and the fact that Seattle and Anaheim are playing so well sort of puts the nail in the coffin.

Next year, Beane will have to get some hitters. Shannon Stewart is the only one on the team hitting over .300, and the next highest average belongs to Travis Buck, at .275. It gets worse form there. Bobby Crosby is batting .222, and Jason Kendall is at .226. Those are awful numbers for everyday starters, and they are bringing the A’s down, down, down. Sure, the A’s have good starting pitching these days, but it’s not enough to overcome the pitiful hitting.

I really hope I have to eat my words, and that the A’s can go on some kind of fantastic run—they are the best team in baseball after the All-Star break, with a 376–221 record since 1999. But I don’t see it. I’ll have to throw my fortunes into the National League, with the Mets, who are looking better, but still have a ways to go to convince me they can contend. But at least they are in first place, not 11.5 games back like Oakland.


Billy Beane said...

Excellent post, Meat. I like reading your stuff!

archie bunker said...

Ya done good, kid!