Category Archives: 2013 Oakland A’s

Author Almost Swallowed by the Pacific on a Perfectly “Sonny” Day

Pirates Cove, Malibu

I remember that day well. I had almost drown while surfing in the hidden cove. The waves took me under and I was thrashing around at the bottom and had no idea which way was up and which way was down. It didn’t matter, as I was being pummeled mercilessly and told myself not to panic or I’d start sucking in water.  I suppose there are worse ways to die, but while it’s happening you are never really ready to concede no matter the aesthetic. It’s like a surprise birthday party in all the wrong ways. 

There is nothing like the sensory pleasure of falling off a surfboard into the cold Southern California ocean as you tumble under the surface  for what seems like an eternity and surface gasping for air. I was reborn as I violently broke the surface–blind luck and another bullet dodged. I dragged myself across the sand, chest heaving heavily and astonished to still be in one piece as the sky was making that brief transformation that comes every evening at twilight.

“Did you know that most “friendships” are only reciprocal 53 percent of the time?” said the scantily clad girl. 

My girlfriend had brought the New York Times, a large umbrella and a few adult beverages. She looked amazing in her bikini, and I was jealous of the sun glistening off her light-brown cocoa skin like a forbidden sanctum while my own pasty coating was sucking up skin cancer like a flophouse on future consignment. My lust was transparent. We were hanging out mere feet away from where Charlton Heston filmed the iconic scene with the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes. It was well known to locals, but you had to climb a small stack of sharp, craggy boulders to enter the VIP room. 

“Whats new, pussycat?” I asked, still gasping for air.

I sat for a minute quietly thinking about my own life and the relationships that had come and gone. I supposed that I had never seen any sort of friendship as “forever” because of my own abandonment by my father. Because of this thought, and the anxiety of the inevitable, perhaps I never put the time or the effort into friendships that I should have. I simply exhausted all avenues and then quietly moved on with little care. Funny how that happens–one minute you’re dying, and the next…disastrous self-scrutiny

“Looks like your favorite player was traded,” she said.

“Sonny Gray!?”

 “Those damn dirty apes,”  I thought. They went and did the inevitable –so how could I be shocked or angry? “They’ll love him in New York for about, oh, 15 minutes.” (Gray was 15-16 over the lower part of 2 seasons before being exiled to Cincinnati for a package of hot dog buns)

Echoes of the past rumble through my head as I gazed upon the murderous waves crashing in deadly syncopation. I loved to tempt the laws of probability as a reaffirmation of existence. I dragged the surfboard slowly to the water and the previous thoughts disappeared as suddenly as they came. I didn’t like revisiting the past– and the way the waves were looking today, perhaps I didn’t have a future either.

note: if you want to watch free baseball, simply click on Alfred E. Neuman’s face in the upper right hand corner.

The heat finally got to me.

Moss 86

“1986 Topps”

I am trapped in my own thoughts–trapped in a no man’s land between feeling and articulation. The air is stale and dry. I’m watching the Athletics and the White Sox on the tube when Brandon Moss strikes out on a wicked “Uncle Charlie.” (Hitting coach Chili Davis didn’t see Moss as a “Punch and Judy” hitter, taught him to open up his hips and the power came naturally. Now he’s a dead pull hitter and one of the better home run hitters in the A.L.)

“Goddamn it!” I say as  the remote hits the ground with an uncommon zeal. Why do I care so much? Is this a character flaw? I know that the owners are egregious little shits that want to extort the most money they can from municipalities. (and nothing is worse than the person who magically becomes broke the second they have to spend money on something that isn’t to their immediate and unequivocal satisfaction) I know that stadiums don’t return their investments to their communities.  Yet, despite my contrarian attitude…I still care. Perhaps because adult life consistsjack of boredom, routine and petty frustrations that I enjoy this form of entertainment and escape. Perhaps I am like most Americans and I like to celebrate the inane. Perhaps I am just bullshitting myself to give this one-sided conversation some “lather.” I get tired of these tedious romantico-absurdist soul-searchings and it makes me feel like an incorrigible sack of shit.

I watch this game because it makes me feel safe for a moment. No amount of information regarding ice melting in Antarctica can faze me. (and no amount of dipshit Republicans denying it either) This game brings back memories of people that I have lost. Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They enter empty rooms and close the door of the past behind them.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

eck2We lost to the Tigers in game 5 AGAIN….and sure, it hurts… yet I was prepared for this. Sure, like every other fan there was self-induced bravado and the predictable ” Justin Verlander isn’t as good as he used to be” sort of talk. But deep down in my decrepit soul I knew better. The A’s are 1-12 since 2000 in elimination playoff games. That’s A LOT of nail-biting, fist clenching, teeth gnashing and over all screaming your head off until you feel like an asshole…all for naught. So I felt a bit at peace. I accepted the Japanese word “Shoganai,” which if translated means “it can’t be helped.” The philosophy states that if something is out of your control it is better to accept it and move on. This was the ONLY was to watch this game in a semi public setting without looking like a psychopath, so I accepted the philosophy, drank a beer, and sat down to watch the game that was being played in the concrete monstrosity where I first pissed in a trough.

The first 3 innings go by pretty well, goose eggs across the board. It all turns into a giant shit sandwich when Miguel Cabrera takes Sonny Gray deep into the left stairwell for a 2-0 lead.  This is the point in time when you get that “oh fuck, not again” feeling. Ok, buck up buttercup…it’s only the 4th. Verlander is on fire…he’s spotting pitches and also getting a strike zone a foot off the plate outside by umpire Tom Hallion. I know we’re fucked…and we are. Verlander  pitches a perfect game until a Reddick walk in the 6th, and a no-hitter until  Cespedes base hit with 2 outs in the 7th. Detroit had already scratched another run across to make it 3-0 by then. I know the game is pretty much over, yet I fancy myself a super fan, so I listen to announcers Don Orsillo and Dennis Eckersley (sorry Eck) suck Verlanders dick for the next hour. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard, “he’s really on tonight” or “he’s got so much in his arsenal.” Usually when I watch a game I prefer the Vin Scully approach…some tidbits of information about the city the player grew up in, some inside baseball information or perhaps a joke or two.  Couldn’t you lay off another “his breaking ball is devastating” and perhaps tell us where Jed Lowrie grew up!? Or maybe the hardships Yoenis Cespedes had growing up in Cuba? A lot of the people watching playoff baseball are fair- weathered fans, and I could only imagine their boredom when these guys talked about Verlander ad nauseam.  Fuck, it bored me and I’m a diehard.

There is much debate by the announcers as to if Justin Verlander is the second coming of Jesus Christ himself. Apparently Jim Leyland doesn’t think so, as he brings in Joaquin Benoit to close it out in the 9th. A couple of guys get on, and suddenly Seth Smith is up with 2 guys on and 2 outs. A homer ties this one. One brilliant, deep, soaring tater into the Oakland night, and this game is tied.  I’m paying attention now, I’m imagining what I am going to do WHEN it happens. He then proceeds to hit a lazy fly to Torii Hunter as I watch worthless GM Dave Dombrowski celebrate behind the Detroit dugout. The disappointment  doesn’t sink in for a while. I’m not angry, just quiet. I go to get some of that organic pizza that all the kids are talking about.  Congratulations TBS, you got what you wanted…a RedSox/Tigers A.L.C.S. We’ll be back again though, trying to fuck up your television ratings …like we always do.

Game 4 debacle

reddickGame 4 of the A.L.D.S. between the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers upset me like no baseball game ever has in recent memory. There was a complete meltdown in all aspects of the game, whether it be Ryan Cook being wild and ineffective, Josh Reddick‘s HUGE strike-out with the bases juiced on a crap pitch, or Sean Doolittle, well, living up to his name.

It seems a lot of readers of the facebook page of this very site thought a certain play completely changed the momentum of the game. With the A’s leading 4-3 in the bottom of the 7th, the newest most hated man on the planet according to Oakland fans, Victor Martinez hit an opposite field drive:

Reddick seemed to think, even after the game, that he had a chance to catch it, and one reader even sent the rules to Bud Selig and umpire Joe West, getting a nasty response back from Mr. West’s representative, “Hank.” Here are the rules as follows:

3.16
When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.
APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.
Rule 3.16 comment: There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15. Batter and runners shall be placed where in the umpires judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred.
No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectators interference. Example: Runner on third base, one out and a batter hits a fly ball deep to the outfield (fair or foul). Spectator clearly interferes with the outfielder attempting to catch the fly ball. Umpire calls the batter out for spectator interference. Ball is dead at the time of the call. Umpire decides that because of the distance the ball was hit, the runner on third base would have scored after the catch if the fielder had caught the ball which was interfered with, therefore, the runner is permitted to score. This might not be the case if such fly ball was interfered with a short distance from home plate.

other reactions:  The fan who interfered said ” He’s glad he didn’t cost the Tigers a Home Run” if you didn’t do anything wrong, why are you glad you didn’t COST them something…..stupid fuck.

Man, we better win. I’m really starting to hate the Tigers. Especially their bandwagon fans in Seattle

That call caused an emotional and momentum swing. That being said…..bases loaded nobody out. Why the hell are you swinging out of your shoes?!? All we need is a bloop, fly out, hard or soft ground ball to the first base side- just don’t strike out!

I’m pissed that I have to see Miguel Cabrera‘s shit eating grin on my TV again.

and finally: GODDAMMIT THE MLB AND NFL HATES OAKLAND!

Did the play cause a minor momentum shift?  Definitely. Did Bob Melvin make some questionable pitching changes? certainly. Yet, I am not the type of fan who feels comfortable making excuses as we had MANY opportunities to put this game away. Sure, I had Jeffery Maier flashbacks; and I fucking HATE the Yankees more than the goddamn Tigers, yet the Tigers really aren’t the great team that they used to be the past couple of seasons, so I don’t feel threatened. I don’t have that ominous feeling of defeat when facing Verlander in game 5 that I had the past. Felix Hernandez has clearly passed him as the best pitcher in the A.L. That being said, there is still a game 5 to be played. I’m going to have to remind myself to be calm, enjoy the game and not get too stressed out.

Awwwwwww, fuck it: LET’S GO OAKLAND!!!!!

Another trip to the “Big A.”

photo 2

you can’t see the Rickey Henderson pin on my right titty in this pic

I drag my Dodgers loving girlfriend down to Anaheim once a year to see the A’s play the Angels because, well, the A’s are the greatest team on the planet, so fuck you. We do our usual pre- game routine of buying bottled water, sunflower seeds and other assorted bric-a-brac and then we’re off on the 45 minute drive south of Los Angeles to a place known as Anaheim. I’m not going to get into it here about my feelings on the O.C. (we get into that later) but let’s just say I think it’s homogenized crap.

We get to the stadium rather uneventfully and I say to the gfriend, “hmmm…the parking is much easier here than at Dodger stadium.”
“That’s because it’s in the middle of a city, this is a suburb!” she shoots back. Fair enough.

It’s 80 degrees outside. A perfect California night, and I’m feeling good as we begin to take the escalators to our upper deck seats. Now, there is a back story here. (Although readers Scott, Katrina, and Don “the cheese” will make fun of me unmercifully for this one.) I almost ALWAYS buy the cheap seats, wait the unwritten baseball rule of 3 innings, and then move to a better seat of my mood and choosing. (this has worked in Seattle, Oakland and San Diego) So I do this, buying 5 dollar seats off of some cynical asshole on stub hub and then pat myself on the head for a job well done. Dear readers, for future reference….THIS DOES NOT WORK IN ANAHEIM OR LOS ANGELES. These stadiums are not as “fan friendly” when it comes to common sense. Ahem. So my plan failed. Fuck you.

photo 3

oooh! take my pic for facebook!

The game starts and the A’s scratch across 2 runs in the 2nd, and then a Howie Kendrick jack in the bottom half of the inning makes it 2-1. Ok, we got a ballgame.
gfriend: (who is proud of her Salvadorian heritage, mind you.)
” The vibe is different here, and the crowd is so…..white. All this red reminds me of Republicanism.”
No doubt, sweetheart. I hate the Angels and John McCain too.
Top of the 3rd: Jed Lowrie golfs a three run tater off Garrett Richards that barely clears the out of town scoreboard in left center for a 5-1 lead. I notice then that the Red Sox aren’t playing tonight. Tommy Milone does his best job of fucking it up in the bottom half, giving up a bases drunk double to Howie Kendrick to cut the lead to 5-4. I’m upset and even say a few un-choice words about Tommy boy under my breath, but I want to seem cool in the enemies ballpark, so I let it go. A few innings go by, and we make fun of everyone around us who seem to be checking Facebook on their phones.

 Top 7th: “Boss” Moss hits one of the HIGHEST jacks I have ever seen into the Angels right field “shit dump,”
(I have no idea what it is…but it looks ghastly) to make it 7-4. I don’t know about you, but to me, this guy will be long remembered as one of my favorite Oakland A’s. Raw power and passion with a fucking red George Michael beard = bad ass mother fucker. The A’s bullpen effectively holds the Halos down, and they scratch together a few more runs to make it 10-5 as the Angels fans leave en masse to our delight (parking issues,dog!) Grant “gives me a fucking heart attack or puts me to sleep” Balfour comes in, walks a couple of guys, throws a shit load of pitches (his innings always seem as long as the first 8) and finally ends the game by striking out Hank Conger. There was a strange feeling that Angels fans had conceded. Even the victory was sort of bitter-sweet as I couldn’t wait for the playoffs, ergo the passion to start. We pass the strip club down the street and listen to oldies the rest of the way as the gfriend asks me about who I think the Dodgers will play in the playoffs.

photo 2 (1)

oh yeah, i went down to the first base side to take pics of A’s fans when I saw THIS fucking guy, Mr. Rivercat.

sidenotes:  Angel dogs are infinitely better than the Dodger dog. I will fight you if you disagree.

Tommy Milone has 12 wins. I can’t remember a pitcher who had so many wins and received so much criticism because he had “lost it” so quickly. The baseball gods are a fucking trip, man.

Howie Kendrick with a jack and 4 RBI’s. Always thought that dude was solid.

Josh Reddick has 55 RBI’s in a year that was a DISASTER with injuries. He’s going to be a special player when he gets right.

Daric Barton hasn’t been Mr. “look at a bazillion pitches” lately and he’s a better hitter for it.

A.J. Griffin was supposed to start this game. I was disappointed when he didn’t.

Two words: NO YO. bummer.

When the Rally Monkey crap started on the scoreboard, 2 Angels fans behind me said, “yeah, we’ll start our rally….in spring training next year!” Hilarious.

                                                    Mike Trout K’d 3 times. I’m lovin’ it.