Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yes, I'm PROUD TO SAY I'm an OAKLAND A'S FAN... and here's WHY I HATE the giants

East Bay resident since mid-50s, Dodgers fan until 68 when we got a team of our own because I despised the giants so much.

My dislike, which has grown into hatred, of the giants isn't an arbitrary thing, there is logic behind it.  As a kid playing Babe Ruth ball, our coach always taught us "Baseball is s TEAM sport, it's not about a player's personal stats, you do whatever it takes to make your team look good, and hopefully, for the team to win".

The giants were always a collection of individual stars, and there were some great ones...But they didn't play as a team.  Mays, Marichal, McCovey, Cepeda, the real Bonds (Bobby)... and others in future years continued this practice.  Why do you think they won few LCS and never won a World Series? It wasn't for a lack of talent.

And when you hear these bandwagon fans squeaking about "We won two World Series in 4 years"... remind them that NO, they've won two World Series in 55 years. 1958 through 2013.... two total World Series.  THEN remind them the Oakland A's won THREE IN A ROW, and have only been here for 45 years... oh, and that we won a FOURTH... and while it might have been 24 years ago,  it was a 4 consecutive game win OVER THEIR giants.

I started attending A's games in 68 as s teenager, continued through my college years and up to the early 80s, took a few years break, and rejoined them in 88 and have stayed loyal until today.  This included through some very lean years, like 1979-1981.

Point of all of this? I have friends who were coworkers that were giants fans, and when we started playing final Spring Training games against each other, we would go to the Coliseum and to Candlestick to watch games.  I've been to 17 MLB parks and dozens of MiLB parks... I've never been asked to leave or ejected... Except from the Stick.

At a game in 1990, 4 of us in A's hats and 6 in giants hats went to a game, sitting on the 2nd deck.  A's were up by 5 in the 6th, and we were cheering as another run scored. A giants fan sitting behind us didn't like us cheering in their stadium and he knocked my A's hat off my head. I turned around, looked at him and said "that was uncalled for"... And he dumped a beer on me. If I had ignored it, things probably would have been fine (in his eyes) but not in mine. I stood up again, grabbed him by the shirt and belt, and threw him two rows down in front of us.  I was pitched out of the park by security, and never returned to the Stick and have never set foot in ATandT.

These punks weren't 'New World' bandwagon giants fans, these were old school die hards, and they were the same thugs that start fights in the Coliseum and beat up on A's fans over the past 3 years at ATandT.

So next time you think about telling me you're a "Bay Area Fan" or you wear a split cap, or you wear your colors in OUR stadium to watch us beat your team in a CLASSIC Baseball Stadium? Just remember this:


YES, I DO still have a pulse!!

Hadn't realized how long it had been since I posted anything here... so thought I'd just confirm that I AM still alive and kickin'.

Newest phase of my life?  HEALTHY EATING....  yes, that right healthy. NO, no one has stolen my password and hijacked my page, it's really me.

Something clicked a few months back and I started looking at what types of "programs" were available that could provide some assistance and REALLY DID NOT LIKE most of what was offered, for a number of reasons:

  • WAY TOO RESTRICTIVE, weekly meetings, our foods only, no alcohol (even occasional)
  • WAY TOO EXPENSIVE, $4100-5300 for a 7-8 month program
  • DID NOT HELP WITH HABIT MODIFICATION, how to get to the next step of life
  • REQUIRED MEAL "REPLACEMENTS", artificially sweetened shakes, non-soluble proteins
  • MANDATORY SUPPLEMENTS, provided by the program (pills, powders, and/or injections)
I did find one program that I thought might be viable called "Lean MD", but even that one would have cost about $2700... and had some of the elements of the ones mentioned above.

And I found one I'd SERIOUSLY RECOMMEND PEOPLE steer clear of, completely.  The "Ideal Protein Protocol" , which is ANYTHING BUT "Ideal". It's from Europe, moved to Canada +/- 10 years ago, and has been moving across the US for around 3 years.  The first warning signs for me were my Gastroenterologist,. a Registered Dietician friend (who is employed at a local hospital) and the Nutritionist at my work (who runs a Mayo Clinic approved program) had NEVER HEARD of the "protocol".

Another concern is that it's a 'franchised offering' and the majority of those running programs were chiropractors.... NOT physicians.  And after attending the 'social meeting' detailing the program, the fee structure, including mandatory non-food proteins, supplements (essentially vitamins and protein powders) and meal replacements that you HAD TO BUY form them to remain in the program?  A definite turn-off.  It was like sitting at an Amway meeting, including the "loaded deck" of testimonial providers.

I did a lot of research about the commercially provided programs and on a number of healthy lifestyle and eating sites and decided to design a program, including many of their components, suited to my lifestyle, my diabetes, and would also accommodate my limited ability to exercise, due to a severely damage knee.

My "lifestyle change" has me eating:

  • 1000-1400 calories per day
  • 3 standard meals and an occasional evening snack, if needed
  • under 60 grams of carbs (more than 50% of that coming from fruit and vegetables)
  • under 50 grams of fat
  • +/- 100 grams of primarily lean protein
And, after 8 weeks of being on this program?
  • I've cut my insulin dependence by more than 60%
  • I've essentially given up bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
  • The "snack shelf" in the house is empty, and NOT being refilled
  • AND I've DROPPED OVER 25 pounds!!!
It does require more planning and effort to pre-prepare foods, especially for lunches during the work week. I'm making egg white scrambles and "egg beater" frittatas for breakfasts, grilling chicken, lean pork and beef, shrimp and salmon and preparing a lot of vegetables and salad fixings for lunches. I'm also grilling, pan-searing or broiling lean protein options for dinner nightly, accompanied by steamed vegetables and a HUGE salad.

And I don't eat STRICTLY and RIGIDLY by these guidelines, we do eat dinner out once a week, but I'm choosing much healthier options.... like sashimi style seafood instead of rolls or nigri sushi, or lettuce wrapped burgers instead of on a bun, and veggies or salad (dressing on the side) instead of fries, and once a week, when I do the grocery shopping, I buy a single sour french roll as a "treat".

What do I miss the most?  Well, I try not to focus on it, but there are certain things I do miss.
  • Empty Carbs.... like bread and pasta
  • Potatoes and rice, because these are both typically vehicles for sauces and gravies
  • Unlimited quantities of fresh summer fruits and melons
  • Bacon and sausage.... but I do still eat bacon every couple of weeks and chicken or turkey sausage
  • Crackers and Chips... and cheese
Snack options are apples, a limited amount of dried fruits, dry roasted nuts and edamame, sugar snap peas, and turkey or salmon jerky.

And this is a LONG-TERM change. I'm happy with the results and yes, I do have a goal, but that's a personal thing. Maybe AFTER I reach it, I'll talk about it. It's nice finding new clothes in the closet, well, not REALLY NEW, but things I haven't been able to wear for awhile, so they are once again "new to ME" =)

Any suggestions or words of encouragement are more than welcome....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Things to be thankful for in the 2012 Season

I think I've decided that during a slow period, the last week of the real baseball season, before things get SUPER GOOFY, it's time for a new post.  I know it's not over for the Oakland Athletics yet, in fact our fate for this season remains unknown at this point.  So, what gets written today may mean less (or more!) in a few days when the regular season ends on Wednesday, October 3rd.

I'm thankful for the ability to watch a phenomenal turnaround, starting with the All Star Break... and who knows when it's going to end. During July, August and September we have seen things that NO ONE, not even the most optimistic of us, would have ever anticipated.  I have to admit, in April I wasn't one of the more optimistic... I was hoping to end the season 5 games over 500.  I think I'll get that =)

Thanks to many players who have risen to the occasion on days when needed, we've also gotten walk of wins, a TON OF WALK OFF WINS, and thanks to Josh Reddick and Brandon Inge, we've gotten PIES, TONS OF PIES... and thanks to Coco Crisp, Brandon Inge, Josh Reddick and many others, we've gotten the BERNIE LEAN...

And we've also seen some heartbreaking things take place, like the loss of our Ace, Brandon McCarthy, to a freak accident- a line drive back to the mound that was painful for us all to watch, but could have been much worse than it was. Thankfully, he is recovering and will hopefully be back to 100% of his former self... the human part off the field, and the super human part that we as fans have come to rely upon on the field.  We also saw the rise and fall of Brett Anderson, who made a stellar recovery from Tommy John surgery, only to be sidelined by a bizarre oblique sprain.  Then there's the odd case of Coco Crisp- falling to a heretofore unheard of care of conjunctivitis ("pink eye") from Hell... that simply refuses to GO AWAY!! Let's also not forget Scott Sizemore being sidelined the first week of the season, Brandon Inge's separated shoulder, Jordan Norberto's shoulder problem and a number of lesser aggravations and injuries that have cost a lot of our players time off the field.

Yes, I MUCH prefer this image of B McCarthy, thank you very much!

But back to the "thankful side"- the players who have been there to pick up the pieces. Josh Donaldson, Adam Rosales, Stephen Drew,  to name a few.  And while we lost a lot of good players at the end of 2011 (Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill) and even during 2012 (Kurt Suzuki) they added players like YOENIS CESPEDES, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, Seth Smith, Tommy Milone, George Kottaras, Derrick Norris, Jarrod Parker, and Travis Blackley.  These additions have given Bob Melvin the "opportunity" to have 132 different lineup this season... and some of them DRASTICALLY different!

Speaking of Bob Melvin- I can't say enough good about his effort this, and the second half of last, year.  His outward calm and controlled manner of handling the team and his undying love of the game are a large factor in how well this team has done. And I'm NOT saying this because of how bad we had it before his arrival, this is all BoMel.  The pairing of Melvin with Chip Hale, Curt Young and others like Chili Davis, Ty Waller and Mike Gallego is what has helped this young team stay in focus and not get rattled when they had a 9 game losing streak, or a game go completely upside down on them.  They simply picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and move forward.

And a biggie for ME on a personal level.  I'm thankful for the ability to interact with the organization, the broadcasters, reporters, on-air staff, and others around the team during the course of the year. Most of it's been on Twitter- some by email and 'press the flesh" meetings, but none the less, it's made the experience even more enjoyable for me.  So in no special order, here's my thank you list of "go-to" people.

@Athletics , @CSNAthletics , @CaseyPrattCSN , @KLongworthCSN , @amandab729 , @HenryWoffordCSN , @cads32 , @susanslusser , @dfeldy , @JessicaAtTheAs , @AlexMareema , @townsendradio, @brodiebrazilCSN, @karashotcorner , and I'm sure there are others I've left out.

Thank you all for "indulging" this fan, responding to questions and comments, putting my tweets on the pre and post game shows, interacting with us all at the Tweet-Up and just keeping it real.

I would also be remiss to not mention the  players, their wives and girl friends who have also been great communicators.  I won't single anyone out, but some of you have been extremely gracious in your replies and comments back and forth, and you've gone a long way to break down stereotypes of the stuck-up, over paid, untouchable elite that has surrounded many in professional sports in the past.  There are a number of these people I'd enjoy sitting down for a drink or dinner with and not feel in any way uncomfortable around them.

Having just glanced over at today's score (Sept 27 vs. TX in Arlington, down 9-4 in the 7th) this is NOT one of the days I have to be thankful for, but then again, I look at the fact we split this series IN Arlington and we're still in the "Hunt for Green October" and in the words of Scarlett O'Hara, I say  "..After all, tomorrow IS another day..."                                       

Friday, June 8, 2012

Another Athletics change that makes NO SENSE to me

Okay, I kept my trap shut (at least HERE) about all the trades and swaps and roster moves during the off season and even most of them during the early season, but this latest BONEHEAD decision at the hands of the Athletics front office really chaps my hide. 

Part of it is WHAT is happening, but more of it is THE WAY its being handled. On June 7th, an article came out (Susan Slusser, SF Chron) letting us know that for 20 games beginning next week, Ray Fosse, our veteran broadcaster and former Oakland Athletics catcher, was being replaced by Scott Hatteberg. REALLY? I mean for me, this is like replacing a Porterhouse steak with Tofu.... or Wild Turkey with iced tea!! I mean in the first example, they're both protein and in the second, they look similar... but other than that there's NO comparison in the intended application.

Sure it MAY be a temporary situation... and some say "well, it's related to the anniversary of the streak..." but in reading published reports, it took Ray by surprise and it was probably a tough blow.  The "Marion Mule" spent 12 years in the Majors, including post season play in 3 years and 2 Gold Gloves. After a break from the game for about 6 years, he joined the Atheltics broadcast team in 1986 where he has remained for 25 years effective this season.  And presumably he would remain in that role as long as he desired... at least most of us fans have always hoped so. 

Are the Athletics looking for "something new"?  Do they want to see if they can turn a former catcher and short term first baseman into a broadcaster now?  Don't know, can't tell... bet even Hatteberg seemed surprised by the move.  His reactions? 

       "I'm excited to do it. I've never done it before, though, so I'm not sure how well I'll do." 

       "It wasn't my idea" 

       "I haven't pursued it. But they asked if I'd have interest, and I'd like to try it. We'll see."

Well heck, that's good enough for me.  Gimme another plate of that tofu and a glass of iced tea to wash it down.

Maybe part of the whole thing is Ray *IS* old school (thankfully) and he talks about stuff relate to baseball that lots of fans grew up on- not the kind of stuff that is being discussed now in making transactions or that impact many roster moves and player shifts.

Similar to many others, I'm not mesmerized by all the new stat categories, I still see baseball as a tactile sport.  Just like I prefer to read a book printed on paper as opposed to on a screen digitally, I prefer to rate a player's ability by what I see on the field and how they react to situations placed before them "in the moment", not how it looks when its reduced to stats.  And don't get me wrong, I'm NOT a troglodyte- I have a smartphone, am completely computer literate and I even live tweet games!

But for me, when you see a Lou Brock, or Rickey, or Jemile get that lead and edge a little farther and a little farther... they aren't doing it based on what they read about a pitcher's timing or a catcher's release... it's based on their GUT and a feeling that they can take that base.  Same as when a single gets stretched into a double, or a bad hop gets gobbled up and a player can STILL turn that DP. 

The WAR I'm interested in is the one going on in "Battlefield Baseball", between the white lines on the green grass.  And yeah, I'm old school... but I do pay attention to stats like  RBIs, HRs, BAs, PAs, pitch count, complete games, ball/strike ratio etc... but it doesn't color my feelings about what I'm watching.  In football, there's a saying "On any given Sunday...".  For me in baseball, it's "On any given day, of the 162 days"

Back to the important stuff- I think its CRITICAL the Athletics keep Ray around as long as he's willing to stay. His perspective and ability to add the history of this team and the game in general is impossible to put a price on.  He's been in and around the MLB nearly 50 years, and no amount of reading and watching games is going to replace that.  The experiences he's shared with players, managers, coaches,  top-notch broadcasters and learning how to "paint a picture with words" from people like Monte Moore, Bill King and Lon Simmons who broadcasted baseball before we were watching more than just the "Game of the Week" on TV puts him head and shoulders above the rest.

I don't care that he doesn't embrace Twitter, or can't spout New World stats, but when you can hear someone talk about the stadiums that were there in the past and how they were configured, it goes a long way towards explaining WHY some stats exist for classic players that can't be matched now.  And when he can shed light on how decisions were made to allow a pitcher to be left in for a complete game, or how many games they started and finished in a season and why- be it the lack of a bullpen, or that another pitcher had gone 11 innings two days earlier, or there was a double header coming up in a week... you know WHY you NEVER WILL SEE the pitching stats of yesteryear repeated again.

As for Hatteberg as a color man, his exposure to the game is rather limited, don' t you think? 14yrs in MLB (sorta), 1300 games, but only 6 REAL near full seasons... but he *IS* the only player in MLB history to hit into a triple play and hit a grand slam in his next at-bat =)  I just don' t think he has the 'depth and breadth' of experience and exposure to baseball to give the role what it deserves and placing him in that position opposite a lackluster Glen Kuiper will drive more people farther away from interacting with a team that's having trouble maintaining a "base" already.

Is this the WORST decision made by the Athletics  Front Office?  Not by A LONG SHOT... not the worst one this season even... but it's a highly visible BONEHEAD MOVE and I would REALLY like to see them think twice about it.  If they want to try this, add Hatteberg as a third man maybe.  Let him give some insights, or maybe do color every third inning for a couple of weeks and see what kind of feedback they get... but don't do it this way.  

It's demoralizing and it's underhanded... Hmm... wonder WHO that smacks of?

Monday, October 3, 2011

2011 MLB Season is over for me

Don't get me wrong, I'll watch part of a game here and there through the playoffs, maybe even a few innings of the World Serious IF the Yucking Fankees aren't in it.... but for all intents and purposes, it's over.

And it wasn't satisfying.  I mean, sure my team, is riding a 2 game win streak into the 2012 season, but they also finished 74-88, 22 games out of first in the AL West.  We were 24th in the MLB in both BA and HR and 2nd in ERRORS.  

There were a few bright spots though, like some STELLAR pitching and relief work. Gio's 16W, 3.12ERA over 202IP and his All-Star appearance, McCarthy's 9W, 3.32ERA over 170IP and only giving up 25BB, Balfour's 62G, 59K and a .247ERA and Bailey's 42G with a 3.24ERA and 24 saves. And a bright light shining on the horizon? Moscoso... in 23G, he posted 129IP, 8W, 74K, a 3.38ERA and only 38BB. 

Although it was sad to the see the offensive decline and eventual departure of our veteran 2nd baseman, Mark Ellis (whose defense remained strong) NO ONE was sorry to see the emergence of our 2nd baseman of the future, Jemile Weeks.  Weeks defense was a bit (pardon the pun) weak when he first came up, but the miscues became less common, and his offense and base running make up for much of it.  This guy is FLAT OUT EXCITING to watch.. and his back-to-back home runs in the last week of the season show he has power as well.  Weeks finished with a .303BA after 97 games.  And let's not forget Josh Willingham's 29HR, 98RBI and .246BA or Hideki Matsui's 12HR, 72RBI and .251BA and both of their contributions in the outfield.

One of the most glorious days for me? June 9th, 2011... the end of the misery that was Bob Geren and the beginning of the Bob Melvin era.  As stated in an earlier blog post, (please read here) there was no expectation of an instant turnaround, but there was no question it was a move in the RIGHT direction. I have every confidence that the decision to sign Melvin to a 3 year contract as the season was winding down was the right move, and I hope he is able to weigh in on some critical decisions the team need to make in the off season.  I already like (most) of the moves he has made with the coaching staff.... not quite sure WHY Ron Romanick was released and REALLY not sure WHY Mike Gallego was retained, but I'm sure there is more to come.

Biggest concerns in the near term? What to do with the free agents, and how it will impact our outfield. HATE to see us possibly lose Willingham after the great season he had, his community consciousness, and the inspiration he is to others.  Undecided on Matsui, but I think I'd be okay with his departure or return.  Would REALLY like to see us re-sign Coco and I'm on the fence about DeJesus.  

Other issues/concerns?  I think the move to bring Brandon Allen in at 1B was a positive one, he seems to be getting used to the wide foul territory and his offense is promising. Sizemore has done a good job of making the move from 2B to 3B, and unless something drastic happens, I'm down with him remaining as our full time 3B. Pennington is solid at SS, a bit streaky at the plate, but definitely NOT a concern. We could SURE use a good utility player for relief- Rosales may not be able to fill the bill there. Suzuki had a good year, new baby, 134G, 1132INN, 237BA, 38CS and a .993FPCT... but I'm not sure Powell is what we need as a backup catcher.

Hopefully, Melvin's comments in the last few weeks and in the post season presser about increased fielding practice, working on fundamentals and reducing the number of errors will resound LOUDLY in the ears of EVERY PLAYER on the roster.  The two biggest failings of the Athletics in 2011 were the number of errors and runners left in scoring position.  I can't find the stat yet, but we left a TON of runners at 3B and 2B with 1 or fewer outs this year.  And by improving on this and reducing errors, we could have been in a much better position at year and- maybe not AL West Champs, but certainly not AL West CHUMPS.  And yes, I know we didn't finish last... but from day one, the Mariners never were in it.
Biggest distractions?  

1) Sigh... the horrible, HORRIBLE ownership and the constant bitching about the Coliseum and the City of Oakland.  It's even impacting our ability to sign free agents as the management is openly stating they are "...delaying decisions on player personnel pending a response from the League on the Stadium 'issue'..." .  Face up gents, no matter WHAT decision is rendered, the team will be playing here for 2-3 years and a lot of Division Championships (AND 4 World Series) were won in THIS STADIUM and in THIS CITY.  The tarps make us look like a boarded up business district and the empty seats are a testimony to your indifference. Open up your wallets and shut yer traps- you want attendance to rise? Put some talent on the field and lower your ticket prices.  Do the math- how many more seats do you need to sell at a lower price to make the same money? More money? It ain't rocket science!

2) Yes, I'm gonna say it Moneyball... the movie.  C'mon- a lot of us fans LIVED the 2001-2002 season, it was a great time, and when the book came out it demystified a lot of what took place to make it all happen.  BUT when the book came out, it was timely.  This movie is 10 years after the event, and the story is no longer relevant. Others have done 'it', and the situation no longer exists for ANYONE to do 'it'.  The portrayal is less than accurate, it has too little baseball and all it's missing to make it a romance is a good looking ADULT leading lady and a spit-swapping scene or two.  I know, I know... no one said it was going to be a documentary or a highlight reel, and they were certainly right about that.  But the commercials during the televised games, the banners all over the stadium, the chatter by the broadcasters- all of that was just a distraction to those of us who wanted more baseball out of our baseball season.

So Ladies and Gents, that's about all I've got to say about that.  Except I'd like to thank CSN Athletics and the folks in the A's Ticket Offices for being so supportive of the Twitter Fans this year and giving us all a forum to voice our thoughts, and for those who could make it to the park mid week for the game, an opportunity to "Tweetup" and meet in person.  I didn't make it, but  I "met" some great people during this season and there is a lot of love and respect for this team, its players and tons of historical knowledge of the past 44 years in the Twitter fans.  It was also great to exchange thoughts with players (and their wonderful wives!), journalists, broadcasters and fans near and far (can you say #FossePosse?) 

Larry Medina
A Native Son of Oakland
An A's fan since 1968 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

E-Mail to Bob Rose, Oakland A's Director of PR


It's too bad that you made a decision to strip Dale Tafoya of his press credentials, especially seeing as the only thing he was guilty of is telling the truth. For more than a month prior to Bob Geren being stripped of a title and position whose duties he was unable to properly fill, more than 100 fans in the twitter base and other reporters were actively calling for his dismissal. They were all regularly criticizing his decisions and abilities, we and the credentialed reporters were commenting on the poor lineups, decisions on pitching changes, failure to execute in actions with runners on base and not engaging his players OR coaches. Here's an example from my own blog

Instead, Geren excelled in ENRAGING both fans and beat reporters... and Monte Poole, Chris Townsend, Lowell Cohn, Ray Ratto, Susan Slusser, Ann Killion, Paul Guiterrez, Henry Wofford, Fernando Vina, Kate Longworth, John Shea and others took plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns about Geren retaining his position and even openly questioned Billy Beane's abilities to be objective with him due to their personal friendship. Yet none of them have been openly chastised or had their credentials stripped- so where is the equity?

I urge you to reconsider Dale Tafoya's 'punishment' for acting within the realm of reason for a reporter and reinstate his press credentials. The only thing he was guilty of was expressing his trained view of what was obvious to hundreds of others and reporting on it as ll of the other beat reporter in print. on the radio and on TV have done.

Respectfully submitted,

Larry Medina
A passionate A's fan since 1968

For those of you who would like to contact Bob about this, or if you want to call, he can be reached at 510-563-2380.

Friday, June 10, 2011

As Rome wasn't built in a day...

... neither will the problems of the Oakland A's be fixed in a day. On June 9th 2011, the Oakland Athletics took the first step towards reclaiming their once brilliant history by ending their 5+ year engagement with lackluster Manger Bob Geren. While last years .500 performance wasn't staggeringly poor for the AL West's overall mediocrity, it was a high point for Geren's performance and that sounded a resoundingly FLAT tone with long-time Oakland A's fans.

During the off season, the promise of a "Future so Bright, We Had to Wear Shades" was being spoken of and written about by local media and fans alike. Pitching- both starting and bullpen was looking sterling with Braden, Harden, Cahill, Anderson, Gonzalez some solid middle relievers and we had a shut-down closer in Andrew Bailey. The infield was showing promise with Kouzmanoff, Barton, LaRoche, Rosales and the ever strong anchor at 2nd base, Mark Ellis. Lots of confidence behind the plate with Suzuki and Powell... and the outfield looked strong with DeJesus, Jackson, Willingham, Crisp and the possibility of Hideki Matsui, "Godzilla" himself, roaming on an as needed basis.

There were questions on offense though, even then... there were a number of hitters struggling to keep themselves above the ever unpopular "Mendoza Line", even though they had better lifetime averages than their recent numbers. Hopes were that Spring Training would see a resurgence of offense and our bats would come to life before the series with the dreaded SF Giants that signals the beginning of the season every year for Oakland A's fans. Do the games matter to the season's bottom line? Hell no... but they establish Bay Area bragging rights early on and setup the decades old "Season Long Taunting Match" between fans.

Well no sense recapping what happened in THAT series, after all the games don't matter (yes, *WE* know what THAT means) and we won't get into the other series with THAT team that DID impact the bottom line either. In fact, there are numerous games we won't talk about... 34 of them to be exact as of last night. Well, I WILL talk about causes for 9 of those 34...

The 9 I'm thinking of are the 9 consecutive losses that ended Geren's term with Oakland, and to a small degree I'll talk about the 10th that started Bob Melvin's tenure. I don't think I can begin to express my feelings about the miserable effort we've seen on the field and at the plate by Oakland A's players on the whole this year- it's nearly impossible to pin the tail on any one donkey. There have been a few bright spots, CoCo Crisp to name one and a some stellar defense, especially double plays involving Pennington, Ellis and Barton. But these 9 games were also loaded with errors, players left on base, 3rd strike looking outs, walks that resulted in runs, injuries, and a showing of unparalleled "who gives a shit" management and coaching style.

I'm sure some of you have heard the phrase "The Fish Stinks From the Head Down" and that certainly applies to the condition that lead to this 10 game slide. (I'll save my comments about the ownership for another post at another time, but there is some blame there as well) While Billy "MoneyBall" Beane (The Head) isn't involved in the day to day on the field operation of the team, the touting of his 'genius status' has floated around the League for a long time, and many of us as fans bought into it. I think some of us were expecting the see him rub the magic lamp again and the Genie that popped out would be the one we needed to solve our problems.

The Genie many of the fans and the local (and some National) media were looking for was a change at Manager. Following the much discussed blowup between Brian Fuentes and Bob Geren (who never exchanged words until after it was over, but it was a Bitch-slap Heard Round the Baseball World) it was apparent that what many of us had been expressing was true- Geren had lost control of the team and was NO LONGER in a position of leadership. Which brings us to a list of what was wrong with Geren... okay, this is a blog post, NOT War and Peace, so I won't list it all, but here's a few of the things EVERYONE seemed to agree on.
  • Inability to Communicate with Players
  • Failure to Motivate Coaches to Engage with Players
  • Inability to Create a Consistent Lineup
  • Failure to Recognize Players Playing Hurt
  • Inability to See When "Small Ball" was Beneficial
  • Failure to Realize Something was WRONG
And this wasn't ALL his fault on his own, but these are all things that are part of the day-to-day duties of a Manager, whether it's in Baseball or in Business- you have to be aware of what's going on around you, motivate staff, be 'agile' and make changes, and meet the organizational needs to achieve success. Well, finally Beane rubbed the lamp and out popped Bob Melvin and I know I wish him well, and it seems most of the other fans are "feelin' the love" and the local media is also willing to allow him a Honeymoon Period.

Then there's the Coaching staff. No need to name anyone individually, but it sure would be nice to better understand what a hitting coach is supposed to do when a team ISN'T hitting. And what an Infield coach is supposed to do when you have a 3rd baseman with 9 and a 1st baseman with 8 errors on a team with 44. And how about base running? I don't want to pick on Pennington, but how many pickoffs? And how many times have we been thrown out at the plate, Mr. Gallego? And what about CONDITIONING- why have there been so many injuries during the first 1/3 of the season? Most of these are mechanical things, and seemingly a lot of those are linked to a lack of proper between game conditioning and preparation, insufficient rest or overuse of certain players (partly due to a lack of depth in a variety of positions) and what seems like players who just aren't properly prepared by the time they hit the playing field.

The coaching staff is supposed to recognize shortcomings and help players work on FUNDAMENTALS... and help instill a sense of confidence in players. They're hired into these positions because they were SKILLED PLAYERS themselves and they're supposed to be able to pass along some of that knowledge and help build the abilities of the players on the field. I haven't seen ANY OF THAT this season... and maybe a lot of that is due to Geren's inability to recognize the mounting problems and failure to communicate with coaches and players about what needed to be done.

So, now what? Will Bob Melvin be able to turn this around? Well, obviously NOT IN A DAY. He arrived in Chicago at about Noon, press conference was over at about 2, game time was 6. He probably only had enough time to shake hands with and meet the players and although he's a Bay Area Native and lives here still... in one interview he said that he's a fan of both the Oakland A's and that other team, and he tends to follow the one that's winning the most. So that would mean to me he hasn't been "engaged and enraged" like the die hard fan base, ESPECIALLY not like those of us who tweet mid-game! I think a week or so of pouring over the recent numbers, assessing the current 25/40 man roster and getting some input on what's up in Sacramento is going to result in some changes beyond the few he made in the lineup last night.

If any of you are fans of the movie Iron Man (the first one) you may recall the scene where Obadiah Stane is conversing with his Engineer and is wondering WHY it's taking so long to build him an "Iron Man Suit"... the close of the exchange went like this:

Obadiah Stane: [shouting] Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!
William Ginter Riva
: Well, I'm sorry. I'm not Tony Stark.

I know Bob Melvin isn't Tony Stark... I think the rest of the fans recognize this as well... but we don't need Tony Stark, we need a manager who is passionate about the game, well rooted in fundamentals of baseball and able to work with OUR box of scraps! On second thought, maybe a little bit of Tony Stark WOULD be nice =)

What are my expectations? I'm hoping to see some consistency in both the lineup and the use of the bullpen and some in-depth review and assessment of the manner in which the players are being supported and worked with by the coaching staff. I'm hoping to see a manager who is ENGAGED with his coaches and players and who recognizes when things are going wrong and openly admits we need to work on fundamentals. AND I'm hoping to see fewer runners left on base and consequently some WINS!!