2011 Year-in-Review: Part I

As a sidebar, I thought about doing a post about California's recent decision to allow Sacramento to hold redevelopment agencies as ransom and what it meant for the future of the A's in San Jose or Oakland, but I wasn't 100% sure if that would fall into CGV-worthy territory (not sure how to describe the state's actions in neutral terms). So... I'll link you to vertig0/marinelayer's amazing New Ballpark blog for that kind of analysis. Redevelopment talk here and a little more here.

So, on the last day of 2011, I figured we'd take a look back on a year of A's baseball. There were some bad times, there were some ugly times, then there were some more bad times.

Yeah, this year kind of sucked, not going to lie. Grab a bottle of something strong and click the jump...

January

After the A's appeared to be courting Adrian Beltre, the third baseman took his ball and headed to Texas.

Jilted, Oakland said "fine, other players will surely take our money." The A's then signed Grant Balfour and, for some reason, Brian Fuentes.

Anyone hip-hop-challenged or tone deaf enough to still be reading this will no doubt be intrigued to learn thatSports Illustrated is reporting that the Athletics -- in an apparent attempt to go to Spring Training with a roster made up entirely of relief pitchers -- have added to Friday's signing of Grant Balfour with the acquisition of LHPBrian Fuentes. SI says it's two years and $10.5 million... can a trade of excess relievers plus prospects be brewing or will Fuentes platoon with Kevin Kouzmanoff at third?

On a positive note, January also brought us Moose Costco and gold alts.

February

Flashfire posted a great two-part interview with then-A's pitcher Bobby Cramer. (Part one, part two)

BC: Baseball has always been and will always be on my radar. I’ve had a love for the game since I was a kid whether it was playing it, watching it or coaching it. It’s a part of me, it’s what I am and it’s what I do. When I got released, in hindsight the right thing would have been to try and play on an Indy ball team but at the end of Spring Training I was ready to go. I chose to shut it down and it was tough. I’ve said before in a couple other interviews basically I had to remove myself from the game for a few months. Four, five, six months, I couldn’t watch games on TV that year, I couldn’t read boxscores, I couldn’t do anything because it felt like a breakup.

It’s hard for me to be away from the game but a guy that I had worked with at a pizza place in college was playing on a Sunday men’s league team and he asked me if I wanted to come out and play on his team knowing that I was a Minor League pitcher and that’s a huge bonus for them to pitch in something like that. I was basically throwing and was playing not with any intentions of ever trying to get back into organized baseball. I was just playing like all the other Sunday league guys, just playing for fun and kind of being out there doing what I used to do when I was younger. No radar guns, no scouts, nothing like that, but I knew when I was throwing that I was in physically good shape. My arm felt good. You never know how hard you’re throwing but it was pretty much what I was always at.

Eric Chavez became a Yankee.

Spring training!

Dallas Braden... still pretty awesome.

An amused Andrew Bailey sat on the stationary bike Sunday morning, his eyes wandering the clubhouse as a large handful of Japanese reporters filed into the room in anticipation of Hideki Matsui's arrival.

"It feels like Santa's coming to town," Bailey said, teammates laughing nearby as the A's closer broke out into Christmas song.

Down the line stood an inflatable Godzilla that was nearly dressed head to toe in a yellow A's jersey, jock strap and blinding white cleats -- all courtesy of resident clubhouse jokester Dallas Braden, who bought the spikes in Japan.

March

Coco Crisp arrested for DUI.

How many times has this headline appeared on the A's website?

Nico talks with Trevor Cahill (part one, part two)

Nico: One question that's come up that might not be that original, but people wanted me to ask you, is how or why you chose White Rabbit as your walk-up music.

Cahill: In '07 -- it was all instrumentals and I just had always liked that song growing up. And it was just random that I picked it, and then I pitched well there and I just kept it.

Nico: Are athletes as superstitious as I hear?

Cahill: Uh...I would think, yeah, they're usually pretty superstitious, but it's one of those things where I had it and it's just like, "I don't want to have to think about what other song I pick."

Optimism actually abounded.

April

A's look like a monkey (fornicating) a football on Opening Day, lose to Felix Hernandez and the Mariners

EN interviewed Ken Korach

KK: And I listened to Bill all the time when I was a teenager and so I think, for instance if you were to listen to my basketball play-by-play, you know, there’s Bill King phrasing in there, and terminology, and things that he... not out of trying to copy him but just because when you’re impressionable and you’re younger, you know, you’re really ripe to be influenced by someone who, you know, was a master and so Bill... Bill was a master and, you know, I mean obviously his passion, his enthusiasm, and his preparation... all those things were a wonderful influence on me and on anybody who aspired to be a broadcaster.

How many times has this headline appeared on the A's website?

Some Marquez guy interviewed Rollie Fingers.

67M: Any aspiring pitcher dreams about being on the mound for the last out of the World Series. You got to do that twice. I can't even begin to imagine what that feeling is like.

Rollie: Yeah, I think every kid dreams about being on the mound for the last out. And all of a sudden you're there. And for me, in 1972, I got a one run lead with two outs in the ninth inning, trying run is on base, and I got to look at Pete Rose. You know? {reliving the moment...laughs} I thought it would be easier getting the last out in the World Series. But it's a dream you have your whole life and all of a sudden it's there, and then in five seconds it's gone. But those five seconds are the best; they're the best five seconds you can spend.

Rickey approves of Rickey's bobblehead and Marquez's Rickey retrospective.

A's go 13-15.

May

FroCoCo leads A's to victory

One-year anniversary of Dallas Braden's perfect game

Tyson Ross does well

Tyson Ross gets hurt

Justine Siegal throws batting practice

EN calls for Geren's head

But whether you think Fuentes is a crappy washed-up hack that can only get lefties out and should therefore STFU or a genuine victim of Geren's apocalyptic bullpen management that ought to speak out isn't really the point. The point is that when you're 6 weeks into the season and your go-to primary reliever (absent one DL'd All-Star closer) can't help but rip you for overusing him after the game, one begins to wonder whether -- especially following a 4-year pattern of bullpen overuse and questionable management of the relievers (think Wuertz and Breslow in past seasons) in particular -- you are the right man to manage a baseball team in the first place, given the truly relevant criteria for the position.

DanMerqury ponders what to do about Geren and Fuentes after the two have a spat through the media

David Purcey, we hardly knew ye.

Part two next week... sorry... haven't had much time. Enjoy the weekend and stay safe tonight!

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