Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Slap Hitter: Anonymous with an A

By Kibby Kleiman
Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 2:35 PM

When you follow a baseball team for a season, it's possible to believe that other people might have a nodding acquaintance with your squad. We don't expect them to care about Cedric Bowers, or calculate the batting average of Matt Carson, but it seems logical to think at least other baseball fans would give your crew some contemplation. When it comes to the A's, I regret to announce that we barely appear, and there's still three months of hardball left to play

There is an entire 24-hour network devoted to baseball, and still the A's rate about ten minutes total. (And that only because the highlight show repeats itself about ten times a day). The weekend sweep of the K.C. Royals was the last game featured every night. And unless we're getting punked by the Yankees (two weeks ago) or the Red Sox (this week). We only see the Green and Gold if we're on the other side of the linescore.

The team is hovering around .500, neither good enough to merit attention or bad enough to elicit pity. Teams just as poor (San Diego) are leading their division, and markets just as small (Tampa Bay) draw some video interest. Nobody on the A's is hitting home runs, nobody is hitting .300. No Cy Young pitchers, no Rookies of the Year, not even our old stand-by, Comeback Players of the Year. Which is not to say that this year's model isn't fun to watch. The 2010 team still feels like it's got a pulse. The pitching keeps us in the game and the running keeps us from getting shut out. But I know that in years' past, there comes a team that brings nothing to mind when you play them. When asked to name their starting lineup, you're lucky if you can name players still on the team. I am thinking tthis year's A's are that year's team.

I would like to be a fly on the wall of the promotions department of our opponents, promoting hot Oakland A's action ("Come see Kurt Suzuki and the really average third place team making lateral movement take on our own....") Obviously the A's struggle to self-identify. The one specific team gimmick this week is a Brett Anderson replica jersey, given out while Mr. Anderson enjoys his third month on the disabled list. ("Come see which starting outfielder drops next!"). Our starting right fielder is now out for the season, and I'm guessing most big league fans would have to guess who that is. After laughing a team that starts a guy who has hit about three homeruns a year in that premium power position.

This is a team without a lot of identity or personality. The top three stories are as always, poor attendance, possible trades and Billy Beane, star of Moneyball. We could ask our sports media to cover the action on the field, but I suppose that sort of scrutiny might lead to better attendance, fewer trades and somebody else to represent the face of our seemingly faceless team. It's not the journos job to pump up the volume, but my guess is they can hardly wait to report on some knuckleheaded behavior out of Raider's camp.

For now, it's a week of Sox for the Athletics, and the dog days are here, liiterally. This Friday fans can register and bring their hounds to the game. Sounds kind of colorful, doesn't it?


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