I am certainly not a baseball 'purist' by any means; I love the DH, I think people who can calculate VORP and SLG percentage are hot, and I want to strangle anyone who uses 'the right way to play the game' in a sentence.
Yet, I absolutely despise interleague play. Actually, the more I think about it, it might not be interleague play that I dislike so strongly; it might actually be National League baseball, and the A's playing it. Which is why I'd like our team to be left in the American League until forced to play a World Series. I might like interleague play then.
The funny thing about interleague play is that I really feel like I genuinely dislike it for the right reasons. It's easy for a fan of a team that doesn't play well during interleague to complain, but I'm a fan of a team who has a sensational interleague record, and I still hate it! It's also worth noting that our current A's team probably would be better off in the NL right now: Their choices for DH consist of their back-up catcher, Mr. .007 batting average, or a pitcher, anyway, and with the NL's microscopic strike zone, we'd walk our way to victory nightly, but I still can't get behind the idea.
I think it's a weird break in the season; I think it makes for unfair scheduling for the teams who have to play the Yankees or Red Sox and their rivals who get to play the Devil Rays or the Royals, and aside from a few cities who have two teams, the rest of the teams have no natural Interleague rivals.
And let's face it; the NL is a different brand of baseball.
I can't stand the mysteriously shifting (and more often than not, small) strike zone, something that seems more prevalent in the NL than the AL. In Nick Swisher's first AB yesterday, there were two questionable pitches taken by Swish, who has a tremendous batting eye, and my feelings were summed up exactly by Swisher's reaction. He turned to the ump, and said something to the effect of, "Seriously?", but using the cuss jar.
Yesterday's strike zone started out the size of Texas against the A's, and about as big as a breadbox for Danny Haren, but slowly shrunk for both sides, until both pitchers needed pinpoint control to ring up a strike. That trend continued into today, where both pitchers were squeezed from the get-go. The Giants reacted by having a walk-a-thon; Loaiza reacted by giving up doubles.
I hate not having a DH, even though we don't actually have a DH right now. It is a waste of an out, not a 'strategy tactic', to have someone who is practically an automatic out in your lineup. The pitcher's job is to pitch, not to hit, and IMO, he shouldn't have to do both.
But, as always, your mileage may vary.
Some ideas to toss around from today's game:
- It took Esteban Loaiza three tries, but he finally learned the concept of a 'shut-down inning'. After a shaky beginning (and tons of credit to the A's offense for their resilience), he was as good as it gets from the fifth on (honestly, he was simply brilliant), and went all the way to the CG. Color me shocked. Funny game, baseball.
- After yesterday's incredibly terrible AB, highlighted by him ending up in the dugout before the ball was even caught, JayPay's first AB was of the 'lather, rinse, repeat' variety, but his next four ABs were awesome, ending the game 4-5 with 3 RBIs, and it could have been 4. If he's going to insist on being played, then he had better back it up when he gets the chance, and he did so emphatically today.
- Man, who flipped the switch on Dan Johnson!?!
- Jason Kendall looks like he's thriving in the NL atmosphere. He's been fantastic all weekend.
- Marco Scutaro had another couple of pretty good ABs today.
- You just never can tell with the game of baseball. We needed no one from the bullpen today, which makes yesterday's game that much more irksome. The idea is to play each game for the win; and leave the next day to take care of itself, because 'saving' pitchers is just not a secure enough platform on which to manage a game.
- I feel better now that Texas got shut out at Coors and by Kim. Ha! We're not that bad! Seriously though, we took 2 out of 3 on the road in an NL park, we nearly had the sweep, and we gained a game this weekend. The A's June train keeps on rolling. 17-5 in the month and looking for more.
Some random A's notes: