My friends have described me as a "glass-half-empty" guy. This is an erroneous characterization. In my world, the glass is completely empty. Furthermore, it has toppled off the counter and shattered on the kitchen floor. To complete the image, I am standing in the shards of glass in bare feet.
Sure I may be a bit pessimistic but, compared to 49er fans these days, I am Pollyanna on Prozac.
Last week, Alex Hall distributed some story suggestions via the front page writers' super-secret communication system. (Not even the North Koreans can hack these emails.) One suggestion was a point-counterpoint piece in which one person could discuss all the reasons to be optimistic about the 2015 A's. The other person would be me.
In January, I proved conclusively the A's have suffered under a curse since 1976. You can read my exhaustive analysis here if you wish, but the science is settled, as Al Gore once said.
A star-crossed team like the A's should know what to expect by now: disaster. It is inescapable. Last season was the most excruciating episode in the tantalizing saga of the Athletics. Our noble Misfits staggered to the finish line like the severely-dehydrated marathon runner who, despite everything, somehow finds himself on the cusp of victory. Then he slips on a banana peel.
That's Life under the Curse of Tantalus. I suggested a way to alleviate the hex. Unfortunately, Stomper is still drawing a paycheck from the Athletics and working the birthday party circuit so I think we must realistically expect more catastrophe.
But when, and in what form, will disaster arrive? Projecting the possibilities actually requires as much paranoia as it does meditation. This is the Oakland Athletics team we are discussing. The A's have a mad genius way of creating misfortune. They never lose in the same way twice. But they do lose.
In 1988, the greatest relief pitcher of his era (Dennis Eckersley) lost a World Series game by giving up a last-pitch homerun to a guy with one leg. That was the guy's only plate appearance in the entire Series! In 2003, the A's lost to the Red Sox when regulatory scholar Miguel Tejada stopped to debate the nuances of the obstruction rule with the umpires instead of tagging home plate! And that's pretty ironic since, just two years before, Jeremy Giambi immortalized Derek Jeter by tagging home plate in the wrong manner! In that same series, Jermaine Dye cracked his leg with a foul ball and knocked himself out of the Yankees series. He played three more years for the A's and never came close to his former achievements. Then, in 2005, he signed a discount contract with the Chicago White Sox and was named that year's World Series MVP!
Folks, you just can't make this stuff up.
So, it has been quite a challenge deliberating what could go wrong with A's this season. There is a universe of catastrophic possibilities. I am up to the task, however. The scenarios listed below have at least a 50-50 chance of happening in 2015. I know the math is correct because I ran high-speed computer simulations (twice!) while I was bandaging my feet.
Disaster Scenario #1:
The tattoos on Brett Lawrie's right arm will declare war on his left arm tats.
The Consequence: In the ensuing crossfire, Brett will be wounded and go on the DL. His tattoo rehab in Arizona will require so much body ink, however, world supplies will be drained dry. Professional sports leagues will be jeopardized and the NBA will be forced completely out of operation.
Disaster Scenario #2:
While bouncing up and down to the chant, "I Believe in Stephen Vogt," the Big Head Dennis Eckersley mascot will tumble down the lower stairway in the right field stands.
The Consequence: Big Head Dennis will somersault onto the field and take out Josh Reddick playing in his first game since being activated from the disabled list.
Disaster Scenario #3:
To improve his throwing, Coco Crisp will take lessons from ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte.
The Consequence: On opening night, leftfielder Crisp will uncork an errant left-handed throw into the A's bullpen and knock out Tyler Clippard for a month. When Clippard returns, he will be ineffective because the A's training staff mistakenly fits him with Eric Sogard's glasses.
Disaster Scenario #4:
The A's marketing department will attempt to enhance attendance by distributing 10,000 Billy Butler "Country Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner" bobblehead dolls.
The Consequence: The plus-sized dolls will require so much plastic the manufacturing expense becomes prohibitive. Instead, the marketing guys decide to cut costs by giving away minor league players from the Stockton Ports.
Disaster Scenario #5:
Billy Beane will attempt to trade half the team mid-season.
The Consequence: He will fail because the only players available will be the players he traded in 2014. Bored and restless, Beane will trade the Coliseum beer vendors to the Washington Nationals just to stay sharp.
Disaster Scenario #6:
Shortstop Marcus Semien's arm will prove to be weak.
The Consequence: Ben Zobrist will have to act as his cut-off man on throws to first base.
Disaster Scenario #7:
Fed up with the Raiders' annual destruction of their playing field, the A's will decide to play their final two months of home games at Hohokam Park in Arizona.
The Consequence: The A's will miss the playoffs when new Commissioner Rob Manfred rules the team must forfeit its last 60 games because visiting opponents kept flying into the wrong state. On an upbeat note, the Athletics will still win more games than the Philadelphia Phillies.
Disaster Scenario #8:
The A's don't win the World Series.
The Consequence: For the 15th season in a row, I must kiss my $100 bet at Caesar's Palace Sports Book (60-1 odds) goodbye.
Probability: 100-0. (I don't care what the Caesar's odds are, I know this scenario by heart.)
Billy Beane owes me.