Ah....Spring Training. The time of year when we pretend to care about the scores of games, while simultaneously running 'what if' scenarios. The beautiful, wonderful thing about baseball is that it may be a lot of things, but predictable is not one of them. Which means all the talk about the A's? All the supposing? All the comparing? All bets are off in about two weeks.
This is how Spring Training games go: Well, the A's starters are beating the Angels' starters. But the Angels relievers are shutting down the A's bench. Well, the A's just blew a lead. But don't worry, in a real game, Pitcher So-and-So would never have been in the game. But then for the Angels, Batter X would not have been batting, either. Which means....exactly nothing. Here's what Spring Training is: Everyone warm? Remember what baseball is? Crosby, stop diving unnecessarily. You're fragile. Someone get Harden a wake-up call every morning to avoid alarm clock-related injuries. Someone tell Zito he can't play guitar at the Roxy today. We need him to pitch. Oh, is that an AAA player? He looks good. Let's put him on the roster. Man, Flores' ERA is about to be eligible for Social Security. Save him a seat on the Sacto bus. You get the idea.
So in other news, I'm an A's apologist to the nth degree, but I will say that I am also realistic. I have a pretty good gauge on how good or bad our team is `supposed' to be at any time, and frankly, this off-season; so far so good. We've had no major player losses, and some huge gains. That being said, of course the games are played on the field (tm Joe Morgan).
For one rea$on or another, in the baseball world the last few years, the A's have been seen as the `less than's. Our pitchers are too young and inexperienced, our payroll too cheap, our management style too unconventional. This year, I'm not feeling any of that vibe. We are not the cheap team this year. We kept our core players, and filled in some holes. The league has gotten used to--if not grudgingly accepted--Billy Beane & Co., and knows full well the A's can win--at least in the regular season. Best of all, our DH selection process for each game won't look like a backyard pickup game; i.e. "Hey, who hasn't been chosen for a position yet? Okay, do you own a bat? Good, great. Well, you're batting DH."
During Friday's broadcast, Marty Lurie pronounced Duchscherer, Street, Saarloos, Calero, and the rest of the bullpen, "almost comparable to the Angels' pen". Don't worry Marty; we can hold our own in a bullpen-off. And also? Irrelevant. I'm not worried about our bullpen beating the Angels; I'm closely monitoring at injury reports on Vlad's foot. The Angels without Vlad are a different team. I'm just curious, Marty, why the bullpen comparison? I would have matched the offense; how Thomas/Bradley plus the existing offense stacks up against the Angels'. That might make things interesting. Of course, whenever I get a little concerned, I remember our starting rotation, and just smile. That's what I'm most excited about. Well, that and Milton Bradley.
So to sum up...can the season start NOW?
Oh, I almost forgot. There are a couple of games today. A's team #1 takes on CHC, while A's team #2 takes on the LAA squad. Go teams A's! And guess what? The real season starts in two weeks. <marks off another red `x' on calendar>.