Here is another installment of Five Quick Questions. This time the featured A's reporter is Chris Haft of the San Jose Mercury News.
Without further ado, here is Mr. Haft:
1. The road trip through Texas, New York and Minnesota appeared like it was going to be a hellish trip before the A's left, especially since they had been so abysmal on the road this year. They turned it around with a 7-4 record. Do you think that they've finally turned the corner on the road in 2004? Will we see a better A's road team for the rest of the season?
I do think the A's will begin performing better on the road from here on out. Ultimately, a team's overall quality will show itself, whether it's at home, away or on Mars. In 1999 I covered a Cincinnati Reds team that played unusually well on the road but struggled at home until the season's final month and a half or so. The same thing should happen with the A's.
2. Since you're a reporter for the paper out of San Jose, how much support is there down in San Jose for bringing the Athletics south? Do you get the feeling that Santa Clara County is the ultimate target for the A's ownership group?
I don't live in San Jose, so it's difficult for me to gauge the true level of A's interest in the area, though I can tell that support for the team in the South Bay grows with each passing year. Given the recent comments by Lewis Wolff, however, it doesn't look like San Jose/Santa Clara is the franchise's preferred site.
3. Please share the best and worst part about covering the A's. Do you have any funny stories you can share from covering the team this season?
Probably the best part of covering the A's are the games themselves. Having covered a succession of lousy or mediocre pitching staffs in recent years, it's a pleasure to watch Mulder, Hudson et al do their thing. Funny stories? I can't think of any that would be of interest to your readers, though I will say that the other beat writers keep me laughing frequently.
4. Have you noticed a marked difference in how the A's have handled their pitching staff this season in the transition from Rick Peterson to Curt Young? Are the A's more or less cautious with their pitcher's arms?
It seems to me that the A's are a little more cautious with their pitchers' arms than most organizations, perhaps knowing full well that this is their No. 1 asset. This is quite wise. Since I wasn't covering the team last year, I can't fully address the Rick Peterson-Curt Young differences. I get the impression that Curt doesn't micromanage the pitchers as much as Rick did, which seems to be welcome.
5. After writing about so many games this season, was there one game in particular that stands out as your favorite? And why? Was it just as much fun writing the story about that game? What's been your favorite 2004 lede?
I can't think of a particular game story I wrote that grabs me; I do like writing the big-picture type of pieces -- usually off of day games -- where I attempt to take a snapshot, so to speak, of that particular point in the season. I can identify one particular game that stands out; in fact, I think you can argue that it turned the season around: The May 6 victory over New York, when Rich Harden worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, allowed four runs in the second but blew away the Yankees into the eighth inning as Oakland won 7-4. The A's were 12-15 entering that game; they won 13 of their next 16 (including that night) and got rolling.
Thank you so much, Chris. We truly appreciate your contribution to AN.
And for the record, I thought that game was huge in the maturation process of Harden as well.