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Posts Tagged ‘oakland athletics

Sometimes all you need is a ‘lil shot in the arm…

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Or maybe, in this case, it should be shot in the ass.

I’ve spent a month away from blogging. In that time, I’ve started a new nine-to-five job and a brand, spanking new roommate moved in. Needless to say, it’s been hard to find the time to write. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted to. So, with that said, pardon me if I’m a little rusty…

Mark McGwire. That’s who we’re here to talk about. Today, his admission to using steroids was the lightning bolt that came out of the sky, hit me right in the ass, and made me fire up Blogging About Baseball once again.

Maybe I’m ahead of the curve, but I believe I discovered Mark McGwire was juicing sometime in 1998. And if it wasn’t in ’98, then it was sure as hell in 2005 when, during his testimony in front of the House Government Reform Committee, he famously and repeatedly stated, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”

Still, I’m truly shocked about the upwelling of genuine emotion his heretofore inevitable admission has brought out of me.

I’m amazingly pissed. I mean really, really, really, f’ing pissed.

And there’s one reason: McGwire, along with fellow cheat, Sammy Sosa, broke Roger Maris’ decades old record for most homeruns (61) in a full season in 1998. And they didn’t just break it. They pulled their pants down and defecated on it. And then they set it on fire and put the fire out by urinating on it. In essence, they opened the door for Barry Bonds (who I will only dedicated this one sentence because I just might lose it) who put that crap in a flaming paper bag and put it on Roger Maris’ doorstep in 2001.

That’s disrespect. If you know you’re doing something questionable and that something could possibly ruin everything the very game you supposedly love and revere stands for, you just don’t do that.

The integrity of the game. Tarnished.

The legendary records of the game. Tarnished.

Now, I’ve come to the realization that the game I love has never been played perfectly. Through the centuries we’ve seen pitchers throw spitballs. We’ve seen signs getting stolen in the most ridiculous of ways. We’ve seen batters cork their bats. We’ve seen guys hopped up on greenies. If there’s been an avenue to exploit, baseball players have found it.

But this is my generation of baseball and I’m entitled to all the tunnel vision I want. Except that I don’t truly think this is tunnel vision.

I don’t think we will ever look at those cheating tactics with the same disdain as we do steroids. And I don’t think future fans will be able to turn the same blind eye as we did to amphetamines and corked bats and scuffed balls to steroids.

The gains that both pitchers and hitters earned from sticking needles in their ass was (and possibly is) so exponentially and quantifiably higher than any of those other means of one-upmanship.

Brady Anderson hit 50 homeruns in 1996. Before that season, his season high was 21. After that season, he never hit more than 24. He was the team’s leadoff batter. Just think about how f’ing mind boggling that is.

And then we can think about guys like Luis Gonzalez (57 homeruns in 2001) or Greg Vaughn (50 in 1998) who are a little less glaring.

Every statistic from the 1990’s is skewed…or is it screwed?

If Bonds, McGwire and Sosa had not set any records in the 1990’s or 2000’s, we would be able to forget this whole catastrophe. In 15 years, it would have been like none of this had happened, another greenie epidemic, another stolen sign debacle. If only Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa had done exceptionally well, given all of the records a spirited chase and fallen short.

If only…

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Dallas McPherson to provide “insurance” for A’s in 2010.

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And they’re definitely going to need it.

With third baseman Eric Chavez not expected to return to the field because of lingering effects from a second microdiscetomy surgery, the Athletics signed the 29-year-old McPherson to a minor league contract, complete with an invitation to Spring Training.

Ironically McPherson, once a heralded prospect in the Anaheim Angels’ organization, missed both the 2007 and 2009 seasons because of lower back injuries.

McPherson burst onto the prospect landscape in 2000 after a dominating college campaign at South Carolina’s Citadel. Anaheim drafted him in the second round of the 2001 draft (57th overall) and immediately sent him to the short season Pioneer League. McPherson obliterated the competition, hitting .395 with a .605 slugging percentage in just 31 games.

McPherson took off from there, excelling at each step of the organizational ladder. By 2004, he was one of the game’s best third base prospects and the logical successor to Anaheim’s Troy Glaus.

In 2005, McPherson was given the chance to win the third base job when Glaus opted for free agency and signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. McPherson stumbled and was never able to replicate his prodigious minor league power. His season was truncated because of a hip injury, the first notice of a disturbing trend that has earmarked McPherson’s career thus far.

With the dynamic Chone Figgins forcing his way into the lineup at third base, McPherson found himself out of the Angel’s plans in 2006. He spent most of the season toiling in Triple A and played in just 40 games with Angels, where he once again struggled to make consistent contact.

Because of a bulging disc in his lower back, McPherson underwent vertebrae fusion surgery at the end of the season.

He missed all of 2007. He was released by the club eight days before Christmas.

In 2008, a 27-year-old McPherson signed a minor league deal with the Florida Marlins worth $500,000. The power that had tantalized big league scouts returned, and a shot at the team’s major league roster seemed imminent. In 127 games with the Albuquerque Isotopes, McPherson led the Pacific Coast League with 42 homeruns and batted .275, drove in 98 runs, and scored 94 more.

It seemed like McPherson had gone from big-time prospect, to nothing, to big-time (albeit, highly suspicious) prospect once again.

But just like that, McPherson was nonchalantly released.

And after another year lost to injuries, we, the baseball consuming public, find ourselves talking about Dallas McPherson once again.

There’s no denying that McPherson is a special player when he’s healthy: twice in his prolonged minor league career he’s clubbed 40 homeruns in a season; four times he’s posted slugging percentages over .600.

But the truth is, McPherson’s rarely healthy. To honestly promote him as an insurance policy for Eric Chavez…well, it’s like saying, “In 2010, the Oakland Athletics will be replacing egg shells with balsa wood.”

It’s hard to figure out exactly what the Oakland Athletics are hoping to get from this signing. Whatever it is, it’s almost certain to be an even mixture of promise and disappointment with a splash of unreliable.

The Athletics need an insurance policy for their insurance policy.

A haiku for the just-released Jason Giambi.

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Goodbye, Jason.Tattoos, ‘roids, and booze.

You were once the best slugger.

Should go back on juice.

The Oakland A’s released veteran slugger Jason Giambi today. Billy Beane’s expensive offseason acquisition certainly didn’t have a resurgence in his return to Oakland, batting just .193 with 11 homers and 40 RBI in 83 games. Giambi recently hit the disabled list with a quadriceps injury.

With the release of Giambi and the impending release of Eric Chavez, Oakland fans must be wallowing in the memories of the glorious Moneyball days of the early 2000’s. The past few seasons have lacked magic or, more specifically (hmm, how do I say this politely?), any semblance to competitive baseball.

Perhaps Oakland should fire Billy Beane and consider bringing in someone else? The plan is not working…

Written by dylansharek

August 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Rickey, Rice, and some other guy to be enshrined in the Hall today.

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We know all about Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.

But we don’t know anything about Joe Gordon.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that about only 25 percent of the baseball watching population has any idea that Joe Gordon is even being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame today. The MLB Network is promoting coverage of the ceremonies with absolutely no mention of him other than a blink-and-it’s-gone picture.

Joe Gordon, the most deserving 2009 Hall of Famer.And for Joe Gordon, that’s not fair.

Gordon played from 1938-50, seven seasons with the New York Yankees and four seasons with the Cleveland Indians. Gordon’s career is one of the most illustrious and formidable ever compiled by a second baseman.

In 1938, Gordon broke into the majors with the New York Yankees, clubbing 25 home runs and driving in 97 as 23-year-old.

For the next ten years, that was Gordon’s modus operandi.

From 1939-49, Gordon was named to every American League All-Star team. Outside of his 1946 and 1949 campaigns, he was a factor in the A.L. Most Valuable Player vote, actually winning the award in 1942. That season, Gordon edged out Boston’s Ted Williams when he batted .322, hit 18 home runs, drove in 103, and led the league in games played.

Gordon routinely paced the league in putouts, assists, and double plays. His fleet-feet and quick glove earned him the nickname “Flash,” after the popular comic book character of the same name.

Gordon was a part of five World Championship teams: the incredibly dominant ’38, ’39, ’41, and ’43 Yankees and the ’48 Indians, with which Gordon had, arguably, his best single-season campaign.

Gordon still holds the record for most career home runs by an American League second baseman.

And like so many stars of the time, we may never know exactly how good Gordon could have been; he spent the 1944 and 1945 seasons serving in World War II, his age 29 and 30 seasons.

With those prime seasons under his belt, Gordon would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer, without question.

In what is perhaps the biggest testament to Gordon’s ridiculously underrated career, it took endless lobbying from one of his contemporaries, Boston’s legendary Bobby Doerr, to get him into the Hall.

Doerr, who was elected to the Hall by the Veteran’s Committee 23 years ago, battled Gordon during the fierce Red Sox/Yankees rivalries of the forties. The two share close career statistics and were often a part of the same All-Star teams, which Gordon more often started on.

Doerr was bewildered by Gordon’s up-until-now exclusion from the Hall, stating recently, “I don’t understand why it took so long. I guess I was the only one on the committee who really knew Joe and got to see him play. They didn’t get to see him like I saw him, but he’s finally made it.”

Yes he has.

Trivia: Gordon was part of the only manager-for-manager trade in baseball history when the Indians sent him to the Tigers in exchange for Jimmy Dykes in 1960. That alone should occupy a special corner of the Hall.

Cardinal’s Joel Pineiro grows ‘stache, finally wins a game.

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Solid player + mustache = Above average player.

It’s purely science.

Ask Oakland’s Jason Giambi. Last year, while with the New York Yankees, he revived his career by hitting .247 with 32 home runs and nearly 100 RBI, all while wearing a lip jacket. This year, the ‘stache-less Giambi has just 11 home runs and is batting under .200.

Earlier this season, the Cardinal’s Rick Ankiel sported a walrus style cut and promptly rocketed out of a deep slump. After shaving, he went 0-4.

Diamondback’s rookie Clay Zavada is the new face of the baseball mustache scene, manicuring his compact handlebars prior to every game. He’s become a fan favorite and a very steady contributor to the team. Through 22 appearances this year, he has a 1.77 ERA and has been one of the lone bright spots on Arizona’s lackluster ball club.

The newest member of Moustache League Baseball.

(W): 9 IP, 3 H, ER, 0 BB, 5 SO.

During his start yesterday, Cardinal’s pitcher Joel Pineiro revealed his own style, the long-lost toothbrush.

And the correlation between mustaches and success continued.

Throughout the 2009 season, Pineiro has had trouble getting run support from the Cardinal’s offense, despite being ranked sixth of the 16 National League teams in the statistic. Even though he held a miniscule 3.39 ERA entering Thursday, Pineiro had suffered a horrendous nine losses.

Last night, the durable Pineiro received a five run eighth inning en route to winning his lead-leading third complete game.

Not only did Pineiro lower his ERA to 3.20, but he won for just the third time in the last two months (13 starts).

Could it have been the mustache?

“I suck. For real. I’m getting old.”-Orlando Cabrera

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I saw Orlando Cabrera play a lot with the Boston Red Sox in the second half of 2004. During that amazing championship run, I admired him for his good ability to get on base and his general peskiness. It was truly hard not to appreciate his hard work and all-out play.

Unlike a lot of today’s stars (read: juiced freaks who flourish as they get older), however, Cabrera’s career seems to be on a dramatic downturn.

This is probably an error.

After an off year with the Chicago White Sox last season, many teams were hesitant to pick Cabrera up prior to the 2009 season. Oakland eventually took the plunge, and they’re probably wishing they hadn’t.

The 34-year-old Cabrera is playing like a shadow of himself. Only two years removed from a MVP-worthy campaign with the Angels where he finished 15th in the vote, Cabrera is currently batting in the .230’s, has already made 11 errors, and is getting on base at a paltry .285 clip. Instead of an able leadoff man and Gold Glover, the A’s bought themselves an expensive middle-to-bottom of the order liability.

Cabrera knows he’s failing. After dropping an infield popup last night, Cabrera was visibly shocked. After the game, that shock invaded his post-game interviews, where he told reporters, “I suck. For real. I’m getting old.”

Maybe Cabrera just needs a day off. Maybe he needs a few days off. Or maybe he really is getting old.

An untimely goodbye for Oakland A’s 3B Eric Chavez.

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Oakland’s third baseman Eric Chavez has dealt with injury after injury since signing a six-year, $66 million contract in 2004.

First it was an ailing right shoulder. Then it was his left shoulder. Next came the back problems. Then it was the right shoulder again. And when things didn’t look like they could get any worse, Chavez hit the disabled list with nerve inflammation in his right elbow and forearm early this season.

News broke today that the six-time Gold Glover’s career is effectively over if his back goes out once more. California doctors notified Chavez that he would need a spinal fusion the next time and would not be given any more temporary remedies.

When asked about the severity of the injury, Chavez responded, “Pretty much game, set, match.”

I'm sad to see you go #3.

Obviously, the amount of activity he’ll be able to do during a rehab assignment is going to be extremely limited. Coaches are going to have their fingers crossed everytime Chavez lifts a weight, throws a ball, fields a grounder, swings a bat, picks up a bag of groceries, bends down to get into his car, or whacks off. The likelihood of a comeback seems bleak.

This news can best be described as sad and unfortunate. Chavez holds a small, albeit special, place in baseball history.

Chavez was one of baseball’s first “moneyball” players. The term, coined in Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, characterized Oakland General Manager Billy Beane’s new breed of player that focused on on-base percentage rather than traditional statistics. Beane was so impressed with Chavez’s dedication to taking walks and playing conservative baseball that he signed Chavez to the now-infamous deal, a rare leap of faith from the usually cautious, use ’em-then-lose ’em GM.

While Chavez will never be remembered as nothing more than an “average” offensive third baseman by today’s standards, he will be remembered as a premier defensive player who controlled the hot corner whenever he was healthy enough to.