Tag Archives: Oakland Athletics

A season without a seat in the stands

I’m looking back on the 2012 season and realizing that this is one of those rare years in which I didn’t see a major league baseball game in person.

Having switched jobs and coasts in May, I left California before having a chance to see the Giants or Athletics play at home. My two cross-country drives to get our cars out east were too hurried to route by way of a big-league stadium. And once I got east for good, I never found the time to run down to Philadelphia or head up to New York to catch the Phillies, Yankees or Mets.

I managed to catch plenty of games on TV, radio and especially on the MLB app on my iPhone. I did get to see one minor league game on each coast, the Nuts in Modesto and the Thunder in Trenton. Thank goodness for that.

Also on the plus side, we finally got ourselves high-definition TV this summer, and it’s been great to see those major league parks come alive on the screen in our family room.

But as for seeing a game live and in person, I’ll have to invoke the eternal cry of Cubs fans: Wait ’til next year!

[Note: This post was composed during the baseball playoffs but I never posted it until now.]

Manager of the year in baseball? Bob Melvin

Who was the best manager in baseball in 2012? I’m going with Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics.

My criteria are twofold: I go with the skipper whose team is a winner and whose team achieved its success in disproportion to its expectations and talent.

By those standards, Melvin is a slam dunk (and I apologize for using a basketball term).

Think about it. Did anyone seriously believe as the season started that the Oakland Athletics could make a serious run at the America League West title given the powerhouse teams assembled by the defending champs in Texas and the Pujols-improved Angels?

Nope.

Did anyone seriously think after the first two months of the season that the A’s could turn it around and contend for the division title?

No way.

Did anyone seriously think with about a month to go that Oakland — improbably staying afloat in the wild card race — would be able to overtake the Rangers and emerge as division champions?

No siree, Bob.

So here’s my ballot for the BBA Connie Mack Award:

1. Bob Melvin, Oakland

2. Buck Showalter, Baltimore (You can make a case for him as No 1, certainly, but I give Melvin the edge for overcoming even lower expectations than the birds had)

3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (I know, I know. I’m a Giants fan. But look how the Giants responded when Melky Cabrera went away for steroids and the Dodgers spent their way to a title except they ended up eating the G-men’s dust.)

Honorable mention: Joe Girardi, who probably was a contender for the Nobel Prize in medicine this year, given all the Yankees’ injuries; Davey Johnson, because he brought the Nationals to the playoffs and the best record in the NL.

 

 

 

Baltimore-Washington wins the 2012 Major League Baseball metro-area title

Which metro area had the most successful baseball season? After listening to the Athletics overtake the Rangers on my way home from work last evening, I was all set to declare the Bay Area the cross-league, total victory champions.

But then I remembered that Baltimore-Washington is eligible, and a check of the standings this morning shows the Orioles and Nationals with a combined 191 victories. That’s three better than the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s at 188.

Third place goes to Los Angeles, with the Angels and Dodgers piling up 175 wins. The New York metropolitan area checks in at fourth with 169 wins for the Yankees and Mets. And in fifth, the White Sox and the wretched Cubs trailed with a mere 146 victories, well below the .500 mark of 162.

Does anyone else on the planet care about this matter? I doubt it.

What people do care about is predictions on who will meet in the World Series.

I’d love to see an all orange and black series with the Orioles facing the Giants, and another Bay Bridge series between the Giants and A’s would be fun.

No team is a lock to make it out of its first round, let alone get to the Series. Acknowledging that the playoffs are all the more so a crap shoot with the new wild card format, I’ll pick the Giants to square off against the Yankees.

Ready for the season with the MLB At Bat app

With the first exhibition games about to start this afternoon, I downloaded the MLB At Bat app last night onto to my smartphone.

I had Sirius satellite radio for a couple of seasons, which enabled me to listen to the home broadcasts of all the major league games. But I only had access in my car.

Last year I got the MLB app about midway through spring training on the recommendation of a friend and fell in love with it. With all the broadcasts from the home and visiting networks for each game, the app is a fabulous way to enjoy baseball. You can even listen in Spanish – “Adios, pelota!” – for some teams.

I’m not really tempted by the all-access TV package. As much as I love baseball, I don’t have enough time in my life to plop in front of a screen and watch a gozillion games.

I listen to the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics on the radio in my car, and I catch them and a range of other teams on the smartphone while I’m grilling dinner or doing yard work and other chores around the house.

Baseball is the soundtrack for my leisure time.

Manny Ramirez signs with the Athletics, and mlb.com takes no notice

This is telling. I just logged on to MLB.com to see what news they might have of Manny Ramirez signing a minor-league contract with the Oakland Atheltics.

While the blog entry about Ramirez is the top link on ESPN.com’s story stack, there’s not a word on Ramirez out front on the Major League Baseball site. MLB contents itself with the hard-hitting feature on A.J. Burnett relishing his move to the Pirates and a “maybe I’ll retire” piece on Mariano Rivera.

No homepage love for Manny. Maybe that 50-game suspension he still must serve sticks just a bit in the corporate craw at 245 Park Avenue.

Manny is past his prime and a longshot to give any decent lift to the A’s. I figure the Athletics’ main purpose in bringing him aboard is to mentor Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. But from my desk here 75 miles from the Oakland Coliseum, all I can offer is speculation about that.

There is an MLB story about Manny that moved some hours ago, but I still think it’s curious that he’s not in the main carousel of the top stories of the day.

Come June, if  Manny still has that sweet swing to propel him to the major league level, Oakland baseball could be extra entertaining. Maybe he’ll even make the MLB homepage.

A tip of the cap to Tony La Russa

We tip our cap to Tony La Russa, who announced today that he’s retiring after 33 years as a big-league manager. With the White Sox, Athletics and the Cardinals, he had an uncanny knack for taking the talent he had and getting them far into the playoffs.

Good for him, going out on top after the Cardinals’ World Series victory.

MLB.com has a good video retrospective on La Russa at this link.

Who was the best rookie in Major League Baseball in 2011? Freddie Freeman

In the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, this is my rookie year for voting in the group’s end-of-season awards. In the BBA, the Willie Mays Award goes to the top rookie, and here’s my ballot influenced heavily by the great MLB.com statistical rundown on rookies:

1. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta – Braves: Playing virtually every game at 1st base, Freeman posted great numbers with 161 hits, 21 homers, 76 RBI and a .282 average. Those are impressive numbers for a veteran and all the more so for a rookie.

2. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels – A close second in my book, he hit even more homers (29) than Freeman.

3. Jemile Weeks, Oakland Ahtletics – A mid-season call-up, this dude put some energy into the A’s. He hit .303 with 22 stolen bases (although he was caught 11 times.

Honorable mention: Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners (edged out by a step at the bag by Weeks); Danny Espinoza, Washington Nationals; Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs; Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals.

That’s one heck of a rookie crop, and there are others showing lots of promise I’m omitting.

Note: The only players of the above I saw play in person were Weeks and Hosmer.