Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Slap Hitter: Angry with an A

Wed, May 6, 2009 at 10:35 AM

The Oakland Athletics' magic number is 2010. And after two desultory efforts against the equally depleted Los Angeles Angels it's time to turn apathy into anger. The A's suck, they're injured and they're snake-bit, but my tears have had time to dry up. Now it's time for the whole gestalt of the Oakland A's to shake things up. Fuck empathy, let's get mad.

Everything about the team feels sluggish and half-asleep. The radio casts keep droning on about the bright side ("Holliday starting to take better swings", "that's a good out", "we could have taken all three games of the Seattle series" (we took one)) The manager speaks in mild boilerplate loss after loss and the players respond in kind. Where in the spirit of Billy Martin has our Oakland vibe gone?

Turning over the post-game spread is just a start. I want to hear of an angry locker room. "Some people are not doing their jobs", a threatening skipper, "there are no safe positions on this team", a testy general manager, "we're not going to settle for this", critical announcers, "this is fundamentally bad baseball" and our part, demanding fans. "Boooooooo!"

Nice and easy isn't doing it. The A's are in last and if the division were any good, buried for good. At least losing to the Angels used to be competitive, the past two defeats barely registered on the richter scale. I want a pitcher who won't let the manager take the ball from him when he comes to take him out. I want a batter to throw his helmet against the dugout wall. Then a 45 minute clubhouse session where the manager emerges with no comment and the G.M. measures said manager's door for a new nameplate. For over a decade the A's won playoff berths and gold stars for deportment. But now that congeniality is the only league-leading skill left in the tank, we can peer over the office walls and learn a lesson from the Raiders. They're assholes and don't care what anyone thinks. It hasn't made them winners, but it has made them newsworthy. This season is not slipping away, it's evaporating. Everyone associated with the Oakland Athletics needs to step it up by stepping on some toes.

Nice and sweet is all played out and the city of Oakland is seething. We could use a ballclub that does the same.— Kibby Kleiman

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