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Open Thread: A's vs. River Cats

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The A's are in my town tonight to take on the Sacramento River Cats. Rich Harden gets the start for the A's in his final tune-up before the regular season starts.

Harden, if he can stay healthy this year, should compete for the AL Cy Young. He's been on the cusp of greatness and domination for several seasons. If he can make 30+ starts this year, he should have the starts and hopefully, with the deeper offense, the wins to convince the voters that a Canadian deserves the major AL pitching award.

There was an interesting article in the Sacramento Bee this morning that discussed how the connection with the A's are finally a part of the River Cats marketing efforts. This from the story:

How important is the direct connection to Oakland's history of developing young players, and how it comes full circle with a single preseason game? The River Cats have moved their successful relationship with the A's to a prominent role in their 2006 marketing. The cover of the media guide features current A's in photos from their Sacramento days, also a concession to the difficulties in promoting players of today given the uncertainty how long they will be in the minors.

The same push in conjunction with the previous A's appearance at Raley Field, exactly three years ago, wouldn't have carried nearly the same credibility.

But look at tonight: Rich Harden (River Cats 2003 and '04) is the scheduled Oakland starter; Bobby Crosby ('03), Nick Swisher ('04), Dan Johnson (2003 to '05) could be on the field behind him; Justin Duchscherer ('02 and '03) and Huston Street ('04) could follow him on the mound.

"If you think about it, we've been in existence for six previous years, and this is the first time the fans are able to see the product of our player-development relationship with Oakland firsthand," said Alan Ledford, the River Cats' president and chief operating officer. "We talk all the time about how being the A's affiliate is a special connection for everyone. Really, this is the first time it has all come to fruition to the extent it has."

It's about time that the team in Sacramento showcase its connection with the A's. I've always wondered why this area seems to be Giants country despite our team being the direct feed to the big club (KNBR and TV probably having a lot to do with it and the Cats aren't that old as well). Let's put that in the Sacramentans face a little more frequently, please.