It seems like each game lately, the A's try harder to prove to the apologists that no, they really are that bad. Friday night, Oakland hit "rock bottom for now" when neither Jack Cust nor Adam Kennedy showed much interest in a pop fly, but in front of a group of Little Leaguers today, the A's put on multiple clinics about what not to do.
Boys and girls, on a pop fly to shallow right, if the second baseman goes out, calls for it, and camps under it, the right-fielder should not -- repeat, should not -- tackle the second baseman from behind as the catch is being made. I know you saw "major leaguers" do it today, but it's not correct form. And when the ball is popped up near the second base bag, the correct play is not for the second baseman and shortstop to look at each other and then watch the ball land on the infield, even if that's what the green guys in cool uniforms did today.
That's right, folks. These days the A's are playing a brand of baseball we need to make sure Little Leaguers don't emulate.
Vin Mazzaro wobbled around early again today, surrendering 2 runs in a 2nd inning that also drove up his pitch count, but by the end of his 5+ innings of work Mazzaro had amassed a career high 8 Ks. Aaron Cook breezed through 8+ innings of shutout ball before leaving one batter into the 9th as the A's offense made the requisite attempt to wake up at the 11th hour. The 9th started with singles by Suzuki, Cabrera, and Sweeney, but ended with strikeouts by pinch-hitter Garciaparra and by Ellis -- whose shot down the left field line landed less than a foot foul, in a bid to tie the game or at least move the tying run to third with one out -- and a routine fly ball out by Kennedy.
Huston Street saved all three games in the series, and Carlos Gonzalez, with his two singles, a double, a triple, two walks, two OF assists, and silky smooth coverage of CF and LF, looked like the best player on the field this weekend. Meanwhile, Travis Buck, Daric Barton, and Aaron Cunningham are now together again -- in Sacramento.
And with each passing day -- each yet worse played game by a group devoid of any apparent energy, spirit, or high standards, and each platitude offered in monotone by a manager whose expectations sound as low as the standings look, and each non-move by a General Manager who appears to feel this is "good enough," I feel like I finally understand what it's like to root for an organization that is not committed to winning.
Why they aren't, I don't know, but I have just never seen an A's team that seemed to expect, and accept, play that would embarrass Little Leaguers. You can only talk so much about young pitching, and the somewhat distant future, when the now is so bad that it simply cannot be ignored -- except, apparently, by those whose job it is to notice.