OK, first some stray "game-related thoughts" before today's "discussion starter"...
- Just a brilliant play by Lugo in the 9th, not only to let the ball drop but to refrain from throwing to the lead base. The correct play is exactly what Lugo did, because 99% of the time, when the ball drops, the runner at second will initially take off (had Payton simply stayed on second base, the Devil Rays could only have gotten one out). Remember this in case a more common scenario occurs later in the season: runner at first, nobody out, bunt popped up to, say, the pitcher. Correct play: let it drop, then throw to first. Anyway, major props to Lugo for that play. Not so much for Huff on the next play.
- How classic that a Kendall walk-off at bat would be a nice roller right to the third baseman. LOL.
- Dan Johnson's walk in the 9th inning was crucial to the inning. That's one thing I really like about Johnson: Unlike Crosby, or Payton, or even Kotsay a lot of the time, even when he's not hitting Johnson will see some pitches and take a walk.
- The Bay Alarm homerun contestant today was Jack Yu. What do you think: Cruel parents or fan prank?
There are an increasing number of Doubting Thomases, ranging from those who weigh 6 weeks of futility differently than they weigh 2 weeks of futility to those who just believe the name Thomas is cursed. I was one who firmly believed Frank Thomas would lock in right about when he hit 70-80 "practice ABs," and am puzzled--and now a bit concerned--by his apparent ability to find a bat-sized hole in the middle of the baseball whenever he swings at a pitch down the middle.
Is Frank Thomas "done," or is 6 weeks just not enough time for a player to establish what his "norm" for a 6-week period will be? There are very few reasons to compare Frank Thomas to Victor Martinez, as one tends not to draw likenesses between a healthy, budding superstar in his prime and a crippled, aging superstar in his twilight--or between a switch-hitting catcher and a right-handed DH, for that matter. But let me do it anyway, just to put an optimistic twist on the Frank Thomas situation.
In Victor Martinez last year, the Indians had a guy who hadn't proven whether he was "great" or just "potentially great," simply because he didn't have enough of a track record yet. In Frank Thomas this year, the A's have a guy who hasn't proven whether he can be "great" or just "potentially great," simply because he has been great but may or may not be able to replicate some of his past performance. Martinez got off to a dreadful start in 2005. He hit .207 in April, with a .329 slugging percentage and a .620 OPS. May was no kinder, as he hit .213 and actually saw his OPS drop to .602. He couldn't reach base 30% of the time in either month, nor could he slug better than .333 in either month. He was, essentially, Neifi Perez when Perez is in a slump.
The Indians stuck with Victor Martinez and he hit .380 after the All-Star Break, then picked up where he left off and is batting .378 so far this season--with an OPS of 1.048. So sometimes you just have to know when to cut your losses, because sometimes you have Eric Karros, and he doesn't have anything left in the tank, and sometimes you have Keith Ginter, and he won't have more than one good season as a big league hitter. And then sometimes you just have to give it more than 2 months.