Heat Wave 

Sluggers ain't everything

6/29-7/3

Now that the A's are taking a few tentative steps toward respectability -- better hitting, fewer pitching jitters, fewer players on the DL -- it might be instructive to get into the Way-Back Machine and take a trip to the year 1997, a season in which they went 65-97 and finished last in the AL West despite having Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, and future World Series ring-wearers Scott Spiezio and Scott Brosius on the team. Q: How'd that happen? A: The starting rotation was Steve Karsay, Ariel Prieto, Dave Telgheder, Mike Oquist, and Brad Rigby, who among them won only eighteen games. When they say pitching is everything, believe it. And be glad we have Rich Harden when the Mariners (June 28-30) and the White Sox (July 1-3) come to town. Athletics.mlb.com -- Kelly Vance

MON 7/4

Floating Skate Park

Some people light firecrackers. Others grill wienies and drink beer. But the coolest way to spend Independence Day has to be the Fun Box Tour -- a skateboarding exhibition with professional and amateur skaters doing ollies in the Hangar Bay of the USS Hornet in Alameda. The retired aircraft carrier is being fitted with a street-style skate course, and you can show up (3-10 p.m.), then stick around for the Hornet's 4th of July party -- live music, flight-simulator rides, tours of the ship, games, etc., plus, after dark, a clear view of three fireworks displays from the flight deck. $15 adults, $5 children. Pier 3, Alameda. Info: HornetEvents.com or 510-521-8448. -- Kelly Vance

7/3-7/17

Bike Health

How to keep it running

In the People's Republic of Berkeley, happy workers and students fill the streets on two-wheeled human-powered vehicles, riding them everywhere and shunning evil, pollution-spewing, fossil-fuel-burning cars. Yeah, great, but what happens when your derailleur slips? You can fix it yourself, comrade. This Sunday morning (10-11:30 a.m.), visit REI Berkeley, where a bike technician will show riders how to maintain bicycles. This week's topic is flat repair; on July 17, it's time for a bike safety inspection (checking wheels, gears, cranks, handlebars, stems, etc.). Both sessions are free. All you need to bring are your bike and your tools. On Sunday, July 10, there's a Hands-On Bike Maintenance Class, a five-hour extensive workshop ($85 for REI members; $100 otherwise) for giving your bike a complete tune-up. 1338 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. Info: 510-527-4140 or REI.com -- Kelly Vance

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