I started out the evening alone tonight after a long, but productive day at work. I picked up a chicken breast at the store, and together with my amazing collection of olive oils, and zucchini, garlic and herbs from my garden and lemons from my tree, I carefully crafted a delicious, mouth-watering meal. The recipe is here, if you'd like to duplicate; it's pretty much the best. Of course, like every A's fan out there these days, I supplemented the dish with an expensive bottle of wine. You are my people; I don't think I need to tell you exactly how much of the meal I had. If you guessed about two bites, you are correct. And the wine? I'm into my second bottle.
I'm sure it's not in the sportswriter guidebook to admit to the second bottle of wine, but as an A's fan in 2014, I'm not sure how the hell can you watch this team without assistance. And I may be into a second bottle, but I still think I have a pretty good idea of what is going wrong with this team. I've read a lot of articles in the last few days; bad luck, everything going wrong at the same time, blah blah blah-dee blah. None of us really believe that, am I right?
One of the problems with the A's (and I'm generously admitting there are many) is the f****** platoons. You're playing players every other day, pinch-hitting them where it makes sense for the at-bat, but it becomes ludicrous when you consider the entire scope of the game, the season, your poor fans, hanging on by the slimmest of threads. Let's take a tiny, one-game, one-at-bat sample, shall we?
Melvin chose to pinch-hit Nate Freiman for Brandon Moss in the seventh inning. Take notes, write it down. Again, I'd like to call on the Simpsons to explain this phenomenon.
Mr. Burns: You! Strawberry! Good effort today. Take a lap and hit the showers. I'm putting in a right-handed batter.
Strawberry: Pinch-hitting for me?
Mr. Burns: Yes. You're a left-hander and so is the pitcher. If I send up a right-handed batter it's called playing the percentages. It's what smart managers do to win ball games.
Strawberry: I've got nine home runs.
Mr. Burns: You should be very proud. Sit down. Simpson! You're batting for Strawberry.
No, Moss doesn't actually have nine home run in the last two months (I actually don't know; I'm too sports-exhausted to look it up, but it sounds right), but hey, at least he has played first base a lot. And by a lot, I mean that he's probably unlikely to throw a routine ground ball into left field, am I right?
The problem with that single at-bat is it is literally the only at-bat that Freiman will get against a lefty. The White Sox' closer is right-handed. If you pinch-hit for Moss for one at-bat, the next turn in that at-bat will likely be in the ninth against a right-handed pitcher, which is exactly where you don't want Freiman. But no, because one at-bat. With a lead. Excuse me for a second, the defense wants to say something. It's waving loudly.
What's that? Freiman cost the A's the game by literally throwing a double-play ball to preserve the A's 1-0 win into left field? That happened?
You know me. One error--no matter how costly, and it kills me to say it, because there have been SO many big "one" errors in the A's playoff life--doesn't cost the A's a game. You know what does? SCORING ONE F******* RUN AGAINST A PITCHER I LITERALLY HAVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF!
Of course, you know the real problem, once again, lies with the offense. When you score runs, errors can't really decide the game. When you cling to a 1-0 lead, every single play is magnified far beyond what would normally occur.
Nice try, Grant Brisbee. Nice try, Grantland. You can write all the articles about the "unlucky", "everything that could go wrong has for the A's" all day long, and you might fool the average baseball fan, but you'll never fool the A's fans, their writers, their players, or their managers. They know the truth.It's not luck; it's suck, and there isn't a worse team in baseball right now than the Oakland A's, who fell from the can't-miss 2014 World Series champions to the please for the love of everything holy, let the season end right now this very minute without the A's ever setting foot in the playoff race, because (1) no one deserves to be embarrassed like this on national television and (2) I think the human liver was only designed for a playoff week and not a month.
Do you really want to hear about the game? I love you guys so much; I just can't put you through this again. But because I have pledged to recap A's games this season, I'm going to tell you what happened.
The A's should have won 1-0. No, it's not 11 runs, but it was a win, but the wrong players were in for the wrong reasons (MELVIN YOU HAD A G** D**** F****** LEAD!) and the nice effort by Gregerson to save the game was thwarted by not one, but two defensive plays from players who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a tennis racquet on offense.
The A's started the game 9 up, 9 down, to absolutely no one's surprise, except the Vegas announcers who put the A's at 98% to make the playoffs. Oh to have that bet. The A's put Coco Crisp and Sam Fuld on with a hit and a walk, respectively in the fourth with no one out, but Donaldson, who only has 5 hits in a blowout game, grounded into a double play on the worst pitch of the night to kill the rally. Luckily, Adam Dunn, who has not yet succumbed to the A's level of suck, knocked in the run with two outs to give the A's the 1-0 lead, scoring their only f****** run of the night.
Jeff Samardzija was perfect through seven innings, allowing six hits, two walks, and NO RUNS. Granted, he threw 114 pitches, but I might have stretched him to 140 if it meant I wouldn't ever have to see our bullpen again. I mean, things happened along the way. Josh "Double Play" Donaldson ended the bottom of the fourth with an exciting play to try to get me to forgive him, and the A's picked a runner off; whatever, blah blah. You know what mattered? NOT HITTING AT ALL AND GIVING THE BULLPEN A ONE RUN LEAD.
Edited to add: Also, when Coco Crisp walked to lead off the A's eighth inning why in the name of everything good and holy, or bad and evil, didn't Sam Fuld BUNT!? What is wrong with this team and making all the wrong decisions at all the wrong times!?
The eighth inning read like the A's script of late: A's Blow Game In Ridiculous Fashion". Gregerson made a s****** pitch for the runs; that's for sure, but they never should have been on base in the first place. Eric "I'll play defense when I feel like it" Sogard botched a play to open the eighth, allowing the lead-off runner to reach first. Sure, it would have been a good play, but since Sogard hits like a pitcher, is it so wrong to expect phenomenal defense? Apparently so.
You know what was actually the sh****** defensive play of the night? When Nate Freiman picked at ball at first base, and trying to get the double-play, THREW THE F****** ball into LEFT FIELD TO PUT TWO RUNNERS ON IN A ONE-RUN GAME! Your sideburns are too long. I'm cutting you from the team.
With two runners on, of course, Gregerson and Norris (who can't field a wild pitch--if it was the end of the world in some dystopian society like the movies people get to watch when they're not tied to and wasting their lives watching a stupid baseball team--if his teammates' lives depended on him throwing himself on the ball) allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Melvin's only patented move these days...ooooh...maybe an intentional walk is the answer, go with that, loaded the bases, and the only bad pitch the Gregerson threw ended up in center field, giving the White Sox the 2-1 lead.
And like the no-spirit, no-fight, no-punch, no-guts offense that we're fielding day after day, the A's meekly went 1, 2, 3 in the ninth to lose AGAIN. I wish I could have bet my house on that outcome.
The A's play the final game of the series tomorrow at 11:10AM. Too early to drink, and there isn't enough booze in the world. baseballgirl out until Friday night's Seattle game, where the A's find new and fun ways to destroy a season that they spent four months building, and getting their fans to buy into.
Playoffs are a crapshoot, hmmm? Improving the pitching was the way to go, hmmm?