Yes, it's the big white elephant in the room. An elephant so large and enormous, Connie Mack would be proud to put it on a uniform.
It's called premature speculation and it can be very embarrassing if other fans see you doing it. Although reports have nine out of 10 sports fans suffering from this very affliction. It's something we don't like to talk about as a "problem". And yet it is.
So I'm going to bring this problem out into the open and prematurely speculate about two different things...Rich Harden and Fremont.
I'll get to Harden in a second, but first Fremont. I know that it's early to say this, but I believe the team is going to wind up there. I don't know why, perhaps it could be the PDAs we've seen back and forth between the Athletics and the city recently.
For example, I went to the Mariners/A's game on August 16th and before the game the A's had a ceremony and a check donation to "Celebrate Fremont", which is a celebration of Fremont's 50 years as an incorporated city. You can even see photos of the exchange here. It gave me that queasy feeling in my stomach that it was indicative of a relationship moving in a one-way direction, much like watching a best friend or sibling moving towards marrying that psycho hosebeast you know isn't right for him. Then on the radio the other night, I also heard that a Fremont high school baseball field may be renamed Dennis Eckersley Field. It goes to the consideration of the Fremont school board tonight.
Now, I'm not trying to say there is a conspiracy here, but the A's and Fremont have struck quite a lovely working relationship whereas you don't even know if anyone in Oakland's civic leadership has Lewis Wolff's phone number.
Again, it's premature speculation, but I do believe that we're headed toward that inevitable union between A's and Fremont. We've been headed in that direction for a while and there are signs everywhere.
As for the other bit of premature speculation, Rich Harden appears like he could be headed on his way back. Now, who knows what will happen over the next several weeks, but if Harden continues to progress, reports have stated that he could be throwing off a mound by September 1. It would obviously take some time for him to get his arm strength back, but he could be back by mid-September. The overriding belief is that he'd be put into an already stacked pen at that point.
Harden's return for the last couple of weeks of the season could help push the A's over the top in the AL West. Imagine a pen with not only the Holy Trinity of Street, Duchscherer and Calero, but adding Harden's arm to it? It would be like turning our smooth running three-wheelin' ATV (more like a dirt bike now with Street out) into a monster truck. Gravedigger, anyone?
The question would then become if Harden is used out of the pen for the final few weeks of the season, can he be a starter for the playoffs? If Loaiza keeps up his current pitching, there would be no need to rush it and risk putting Harden back to square one or even worse, Tommy John. Actually many folks might even say that Harden's presence in the 2007 rotation is more important than anything this year. But if the A's get into the playoffs, Harden would increase their chances of a ring by quite a bit. If Harden isn't around or effective, then you might be hearing the "A's s^&t doesn't work in the playoffs" mantra being shouted from the rooftops of the A's joyous haters with everyone from Joe Morgan to Angel fans rejoicing in the streets.
So, we'll see what we get from Harden, if anything. There's a good chance that he might not even make it back this year, but that's the trouble with premature speculation. You never have any idea when it's going to be right. I'm going to look through my email to see if there's one of those helpful messages about this problem.