I'm posting this early, since we have an early Saturday game (Curse you, FOX!) and I need to do some little things before the game; you know, like mailing out the last batch of AN Day tickets that I received just yesterday...<resumes stuffing envelopes>.
The results are in, and Athletics fans have been unanimously voted the current winners of the unhappiest fan base of any first-place club.
Is this position justified?
Our franchise player and five-time gold-glove third baseman should have a DH, our sophomore sensation first base/outfielder and recently demoted former first baseman are reminding us that growing pains are part of learning to be major league hitters, sixty percent of our team is driving up the cost of AFLAC, columnists everywhere seem bound and determined to distract players who are actually hitting, while simultaneously offering ammunition to opposing fans, and it's a little disheartening to have 100% of the most eclectic group of people out there on the web (Hi, AN!) agree that batting Chavez anywhere important right now is a bad idea, yet at the current market rate, it will take our manager another 20-25 games to figure that out. (Welcome to 2006. Bobby Crosby has never been a #3 hitter, and right now, we are lucky Chavez' arms are still attached to his body. I would bat him...oh, say...seventeenth.)
Injuries, bad decisions, and negativity aside, we have managed to cling to first place well into July, and as RLangford pointed out last night, since the All Star Break, we have played better than anyone dreamed we could. We have Frank Thomas on our team, and if the injury fairy can visit another team for a while, we have Milton Bradley....and a pretty good starting rotation, who, over the last week or so, has some room for improvement. We have the offense (yes, our offense) and the bullpen to thank for the recent wins. Our starting pitchers are capable of more, and there's no reason to believe that they won't deliver.
And in case you haven't been part of the recent "Let's-watch-the-A's-game-then-switch-right-over-to-the-Angels'-game-in-exactly-the-same-way-you-slo w-down-to-see-a-gruesome-traffic-accident" phenomenon, you're missing out. Or maybe not. This week in particular, the Angels are playing the ugliest baseball I ever remember seeing, and it's finally starting to catch up to them. They have great starting pitching (when healthy - not the current case) a great closer, and with Vlad healthy and producing, a better-than-average offense.
However, their middle relief is terrible, and their defense has been so awful that there have been about twenty times this week that I can't believe this is a major-league team on the field. Let me put it this way. Since the All-Star break, there have only been two games in which the Angels did not commit an error, and their streak of multiple-error games was capped off by Thursday's debacle in Kansas City; four errors, a catcher's interference call, and an assisted `triple' on a bunt. This is not even mentioning the seven-zillion runners (I'm estimating) that have been thrown out at the plate. So, yes, the Angels have been winning, but not any more solidly than our A's.
Just something to chew on before you start making plans for the Golden Gate jump.
Today's game features Joe Blanton (who claims to love pitching in the heat, and he certainly was smokin' in Boston), against Zach Miner. Tip: Miner throws a lot of pitches, so...um...take some? Oh. This is the Tigers bullpen. Well, crap. I'm out of ideas.
For the slow learners:
For the other team: