Autumn dreams of … spring dreams

The World Series is fading into memory. As the weather turns colder, a baseball fan must turn to the “Hot Stove League” of speculation on who’s going to deal for whom in the coming months. Amazingly, it was the Oakland Athletics who made the first significant move, acquiring slugger Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies.

There’s no guarantee the A’s will keep Holliday past the 2009 season, or even past the middle of the season. Holliday will become a free agent after next season, and if he can sustain his typical production of the last few years, he’ll command a high price.

The A’s, operating on the east side of San Francisco Bay, are considered a “small market” team. I can’t buy that. The Bay Area is enormous. A cut below New York, Los Angeles and Chicago? Certainly. But to lump the East Bay with Kansas City or Pittsburgh doesn’t hold much sway with me.

Nonetheless, the Athletics are the No. 2 team in the Bay Area. The San Francisco Giants command the better media placement on radio and TV. By virtue of having a decade’s head start in the area, the Giants historically have had a stronger fan base.

I lived for six years close enough to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum that we could see the lights from the boys’ bedroom on the upper floor of our house. Those were the Bash Brothers years of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, two of the poster boys for the steroids era.

That it no way taints my affection for the plastic A’s batting helmets that we picked up at A’s games. The model pictured above was sponsored by Granny Goose snacks. I set the helmet among the autumn leaves on our lawn this afternoon, resting it atop a green A’s bat we picked up on Bat Day in the mid- to late 90s. Although the season is over, baseball is never far from mind. It won’t be long until spring training.

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