Notes From Last Night
by Ken Arneson
2003-10-07 8:36

was talking with a friend before the game yesterday, and he noted that the A’s 0-9 curse is a first round curse, while the Red Sox’ curse doesn’t necessarily apply to the first round. That’s why our curse took precedence over their curse. The Red Sox pain is yet to come.

The Red Sox and Cubs are long-suffering, but the A’s are densely-suffering. I’m not sure which is worse.

Oddly, I’m not nearly as upset now as I was after Game 3. I’m not going to stop being a baseball fan, although the thought did cross my mind, too: is this pain worth it? But then I think: our rotation next year will be Hudson, Mulder, Zito, the new-and-improved Lilly, and Harden, and I can’t wait for spring training to begin. I may not ever watch any more playoffs, though.

Barry Zito needs a fourth pitch he can rely on. Zito lost the feel for his curveball in the sixth inning, and he was suddenly a two-pitch pitcher. When the count went 2-2 on Manny Ramirez, Ramirez fouled a fastball straight back, meaning he had timed Zito’s fastball. So without his curveball, and not wanting to risk walking the bases loaded, Zito’s choices here were to throw a changeup, and risk hanging it so Manny could hit it hard, or another fastball, which Manny had the timing down on. Either way, his choices weren’t good. If he had a sinker or a cutter or a splitter–something besides the curve that has some movement–he could get through those innings where the curve temporarily abandons him. He could be Zito Forever instead of Zito Twice Through The Order. Zito threw another fastball to Ramirez, and there went the season.

As much as Dye has struggled against Lowe, I think pinch-hitting for him was a mistake. I wanted to see him get a chance to drive in at least one run. You don’t need a hit there; just contact. I think Dye, a powerful guy, would have been more likely to hit a sac fly deep enough, or a ball hard enough to get through the drawn-in infield. Dye looked visibly angry and disgusted as he was called back to the dugout. I don’t blame him.

I’d like to see Tejada and Foulke come back, but that’s probably not realistic. Perhaps getting Jose Guillen back is a little more realistic. I liked watching him play. Even with a broken hand, he was the best A’s hitter in the playoffs, and from what I’ve seen this year, his hitting seems very Tejada-like: not a whole lot of patience, but some (like, for instance, that 9th inning walk last night which was a very good at-bat), and with good pop, so if they lose Tejada but keep Guillen, then what you basically need is for Bobby Crosby’s offense to replace Terrence Long’s offense to get similar production from 2004’s lineup as compared to 2003’s lineup.

For some reason I was channeling Ray Fosse when I wrote that last sentence. I apologize. I’ll bet you didn’t even realize I was actually trying to ask a question.

This is Ken Arneson's blog about baseball, brains, art, science, technology, philosophy, poetry, politics and whatever else Ken Arneson feels like writing about
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