Dinosaurs and Vegetables

I had plans.

Yesterday, I was going to take in a game at Hi Corbett Field here in Tucson between the Rockies and the White Sox. Then today, I was thinking of driving up to Phoenix to catch the last Cactus League game for the A’s before they head home to the Bay Area.

But then I got sick. I spent yesterday just lying around watching TV, nursing a low grade fever and a stuffy head. I felt better today, but not good enough to spend 3+ hours driving back and forth to Phoenix.

Instead, I took a much shorter trip with my family to the Tucson Children’s Museum. They had a nice exhibit on dinosaurs with a video documentary narrated by Martin Short. I quite enjoyed it, but my two girls hardly seemed interested at all. They spent most of their time in a farmer’s market exhibit, pretending to shop for food. Boys will be boys, girls will be girls, I suppose.

So I had a nice day, even though I missed a very encouraging performance by the A’s, as they beat the Brewers, 7-1. Barry Zito allowed just one run in seven innings, and Octavio Dotel gave up just one hit in two innings.

I finally feel ready for the season to start. Zito looks ready, Dotel looks ready (at last). The sale to Wolff/Fisher is official now. Meyer has been sent to Sacramento. Yabu is in the pen. There are just a few final things to clear off the plate.

The A’s will fly back to the Bay Area, pray that Crosby’s wrist isn’t broken, fiddle around with the Giants for a few days, make a few final roster decisions, and then get busy winning the division.

Meanwhile, I’ll fly back to the Bay Area, pray the Crosby’s wrist isn’t broken, fiddle around with this web site for a few days, and then get busy watching the A’s go win the division.

Well, that’s the plan, anyway…

Shigetoshi Street

I’m in Tucson today, where I took in my first ballgame of the year. The White Sox beat the A’s, 12-8.

There were only 4,500 people at the game, so I was able to walk right up to the bullpen and watch the A’s pitchers warm up. I stood and watched from about six feet behind the catcher, about 10 feet up above the pen. I tried to imagine myself trying to hit off of Haren. I’d probably be scared to death. Haren’s pitches sizzled through the air and popped in the mitt.

Haren and Curt Young seemed to be having an entirely non-verbal discussion about his breaking pitches. Every time Haren threw one, he was shaking his head. Young was holding a baseball and demonstrating something (grip? release?), and Haren would nod. I could hear everything they said, but nothing was said at all. Haren seemed to know what he was doing wrong, but couldn’t stop doing it, whatever it was.

And he kept not doing whatever it was in the game, as the White Sox bashed him around for seven runs in 5 2/3 innings.

In the middle innings, some guy got up that I did not recognize, and watching him warm up, he certainly suffered in comparison with Haren. His fastballs didn’t sizzle, the mitt didn’t pop. I thought that even I might be able to stand in the box against him without getting killed by a HBP.

When he came into the game, I found out who it was: Tim Harikkala. He promptly hit the first two batters he faced, Everett and Konerko. The batters seemed upset. Not upset that they were hit, but upset that they lost an AB. I guess they didn’t feel afraid against him, either.

Jermaine Dye followed with a rocket double to drive in two. Dye looked great, going 3-for-4 and almost nailing Charles Thomas taking too big a turn around first base on a single. But then again, he looked good last spring training, too. Then the regular season started.

Later, I got my first look at Huston Street. Several articles have compared his delivery to Dennis Eckersley, but I didn’t get that impression at all.

As Street was warming up in the A’s pen, Shingo Takatsu was warming up in the White Sox pen. It struck me that Street had kind of a funky Japanese-style delivery, too. I tried to figure out what it was that was giving me that impression. I looked over at Takatsu, and Street’s delivery didn’t really look like Takatsu’s all that much.

Then I realized whose delivery Street reminded me of: Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Similar arm angles, similar size, similar follow-through, similar landing position. I’ll have to look at Hasegawa again to see if I’m remembering him right. But that’s who Street reminds me of. And for more realistic expectations, Hasegawa is probably a better comp than Eckersley.

When Street came into the game, I went and stood at the back of the section right behind home plate to watch him work. I’ve heard that Street has impeccable control, but that wasn’t evident today. His slider was too far off plate, nobody was chasing it. His fastballs were missing the black. He did strike out Carl Everett on a nice changeup, though.

The White Sox also stole two bases off him. Part of that may have been because Jeremy Brown was the catcher, but Street didn’t seem to be doing much to prevent them from running. Given that Street has given up runs in his last several outings, I’m beginning to think that Street might be working on a few things in Sacramento for awhile before we see him in Oakland.

Ross Gload made a great play at first base in the ninth, snaring a screaming liner by Nick Swisher, and almost doubling off Bobby Kielty. Kielty barely made it back to the bag ahead of Gload. After watching some shoddy defense by Keith Ginter and Dan Johnson earlier in the game, it was nice to see a major-league quality play to help finish things off, even if it wasn’t my team that made it.

Nice Pants

In the early 90s, I worked for a computer service company. One day, the VP of Sales sent out an email:

Subject: Dress code tomorrow

Executives from The Gap, a potential large customer, are coming for a tour of our facilities tomorrow.

You’re not required to wear clothes from The Gap (although it’s encouraged), but above all, please do not wear Levi’s to work tomorrow.

I found it amusing to think of Levi’s as the enemy. The Haas family, which owned Levi Strauss & Co., also owned the Oakland A’s at the time, and has been a major contributor to UC Berkeley, my alma mater. Levi’s, in my mind, was a force for benevolence.

Nevertheless, I dressed the part. And I think we got the deal. All thanks to my pants, of course.

On Wednesday it is expected that the A’s ownership change will become official. Lewis Wolff will apparently be the managing owner. However, the majority of the team will be owned by the Fischer family. The Fischer family owns, naturally, The Gap.

I guess this is kinda like having a team that was once owned by Coca-Cola getting sold to Pepsi. Probably doesn’t mean anything, but I enjoy the irony of it.

When the deal becomes official, the A’s will have the third-wealthiest owners in baseball. If the tradition of stingy A’s ownership continues, it can only be because of philosophy. It won’t be because the owners can’t afford it, or because they are up to their ears in debt, like some teams.

I fully expect the penny-pinching philosophy to continue. Partly because Steve Schott is staying on for awhile in an advisory capacity. But mostly because if the A’s got a new owner who went all Arte Moreno on us, I would have no idea how to react. It’s beyond my ken.

I’ll keep my pants on.

Beaney Babies

The March 28 issue of ESPN: The Magazine has a feature story on Dan Haren, Joe Blanton and Dan Meyer, entitled “Beaney Babies”, written by Buster Olney.

The article doesn’t tell us much we didn’t already know, but the story has a few amusing anecdotes about each of the three pitchers. Haren had bought his dad a copy of Moneyball as a gift, and then had to borrow it when he was traded to Oakland. And there’s a funny story about how Blanton got mad at someone who showboated after a home run.

On a side note, looking at one of the photos of Blanton in the magazine, I kinda got the sensation that his face seemed familiar to me. Then it struck me that if you did a facial merge between Will Carroll and Zachary Manprin, the result might look an awful lot like Joe Blanton. Willie Joe Blanprin?

Anyway, Blanton and Haren have locked up spots in the rotation, but not so Dan Meyer. Meyer gave up four runs in 4 2/3 IP today in a 5-2 loss to the Cubs, making it increasingly likely he’ll start the year in Sacramento.

Ken Macha stated yesterday that the A’s are leaning strongly towards going with 12 pitchers. That’s bad news for Marco Scutaro (despite his home run today), and good news for Huston Street.

Men O’ War

While people ignored Donald Fehr’s warning about gene doping,

thinking it’s just science fiction or wishful hoping,

 
and focused on McGwire as he fell from liked to disliked faster than anyone since Kirby,

today we learned that David Cassidy wants to win the Kentucky Derby.

 
And even though I doubt Mr. Cassidy would make a very fast horse,

genetically altering an athlete’s species is not something I can ever endorse.

 
But at least now we know that if Fehr was right about genetic manipulation, the first sign we’ll see

is a thoroughbred in a pear tree.

 
* * *

 
Bobby Fischer, the old master of chess,

found a unique way to escape a mess:

 
after spending eight months jailed in Japan

because he ignored a US government ban

 
against playing chess in Yugoslavia back in 1992,

after which the US government withdrew

 
his passport, meaning he’d entered Japan illegally,

he found one country to treat him regally:

 
the one country that revered him the most,

the one country that played the host

 
to Fischer’s greatest cold war success

the most famous ever matchup in chess.

 
Iceland accepted Fischer’s application

to become a citizen of their island nation,

 
and thereby effectively thwarted

America’s plans to have Fischer deported.

 
The US government found it hard to swallow.

“If the resolutions of the world are to be more than ink on paper, they must be enforced. If the institutions of the world are to be more than debating societies, they must eventually act. If the world promises serious consequences for the defiance of the lawless, then serious consequences must follow,”

 
American President Bush once said in Australia about Iraq.

No word on how long before the US will attack;

 
The military doesn’t like to give out its plans in advance.

But there can be no doubt: Iceland is America’s new France,

 
rivalled in its evil by only bin Laden, al Qaeda, North Korea, Iran,

and Major League Baseball’s anti-steroid plan.

Tuesday Notes

  • Rich Harden gave up five runs to Texas in the first inning today, and then was told by Hiram Bocachica that he was tipping his pitches.

    I suppose that could be the reason, but I’m always skeptical when I hear that explanation. It always sounds like grasping for straws. More likely reason: the pitcher sucked.

    I’m glad to hear that Harden and Curt Young were more ready to blame bad mechanics than pitch-tipping.

  • As expected, Tyler Johnson got shipped back to St. Louis.
  • 2004 top draft pick Landon Powell is out for the year with a torn ACL. I asked Will Carroll if having surgery on the ACL will hurt his long-term prospects as a catcher.

    Will said that he couldn’t find any catchers to compare him to, but he thought it was likely that there must be somebody who’s done it.

The Dairy Queen Conspiracy

Ken Macha took a split squad of A’s down to Tucson on Saturday, and treated the whole bus to an ice cream break at a local Dairy Queen.

It’s a cute story. But I kinda feel left out.

Not because I think Macha should treat me to some ice cream. Because I have never once even stepped foot in a Dairy Queen.

So when Nick Swisher jokes about ordering a $7 Blizzard, I have no idea what that means. I feel like someone is preventing me from experiencing a core piece of American culture.

But the problem is this: there aren’t any Dairy Queens around here. There are zero Dairy Queens in Alameda, where I live, zero in Oakland, and zero in San Francisco.

There is a combo Orange Julius/Dairy Queen express shop in a shopping mall in Hayward, but if you want a real standalone Dairy Queen, you have to go over the Oakland Hills out to San Ramon, about a 30 minute drive.

So then I checked Phoenix and Tucson, where the incident took place. Which Dairy Queen did they go to? Hard to tell. There are at least seven Dairy Queens within the Phoenix city limits, and nine in Tucson.

Hmm…this is starting to look suspicious. OK, let’s look at how many Dairy Queens are within the city limits of each MLB city (by division):

City                Dairy Queens
---   ---
Oakland                  0
Arlington                1  (Dallas: 4)
Anaheim                  2
Seattle                  4
Kansas City              3
Cleveland                3
Chicago                  4
Detroit                  7
Minneapolis              7  (St. Paul: 8)
New York City            0
Boston                   1
Baltimore                1
Tampa                    3
Toronto                  6
San Francisco            0
Los Angeles              1
San Diego                4
Phoenix                  7
Denver                   8
Milwaukee                3
St. Louis                4
Chicago                  4
Cincinnati               5
Pittsburgh               7
Houston                  8
New York City            0
Washington, DC           0
Philadelphia             4
Atlanta                  5
Miami                    5

Well, I feel a little better now. The Bay Area isn’t alone in its DairyQueenlessness. But why are we, New York City, and Washington D.C. being left out? And why does Toronto, which isn’t even in United States, have more Dairy Queens than the rest of the AL East combined?

It’s all very fishy, if you ask me. I smell a conspiracy…

More cuts

After Sunday’s game, the A’s sent down seven more players.

The article says 38 players are still in camp, 31 from the 40-man, and 7 non-roster invitees. Here’s how I figure it (I’ll put the non-roster guys in italics):

OF (7): Byrnes, Kielty, Kotsay, Swisher, Thomas, Bocachica, Clark.

IF (9): Chavez, Crosby, Durazo, Ellis, Ginter, Hatteberg, Dan Johnson, Scutaro, Rouse, Bobby Smith.

C (4): Kendall, Melhuse, Brown, Suzuki.

P (18): Blanton, Calero, Cruz, Dotel, Duchscherer, Etherton, Harden, Haren, Harikkala, Tyler Johnson, Meyer, Rincon, Yabu, Zito, Reames, Saarloos, Street, and, um, Bradford?

I’m guessing Bradford is the last guy on the list, because that’s the only way I can get things to add up the way the article says.

Note that Street is not on the 40-man roster, but if he makes the team, that’s easily solved by sending Johnson back to St. Louis. Or maybe by putting Bradford on the sixty-day DL.

I’m not sure why John Baker was sent down and not Jeremy Brown. But the big news is probably that Kurt Suzuki is still around. He may have jumped ahead of both Brown and Baker in the hearts of A’s management with his impressive spring.

25-Man Roster

I was just peeking at the A’s roster. Right now, I figure there are 23 spots on the A’s roster that are pretty secure:

Pitchers (10):
Zito, Harden, Haren, Blanton, Dotel, Cruz, Calero, Rincon, Duchscherer, Yabu.

Catchers (2):
Kendall, Melhuse.

Infielders (6):
Hatteberg, Ellis, Ginter, Crosby, Chavez, Durazo

Outfielders (5):
Byrnes, Kielty, Kotsay, Swisher, Thomas

 
Yabu’s role isn’t clear, but I’m figuring the A’s didn’t spend $1M on him to have him pitch in AAA. Which leaves:

On the bubble (2 slots, 7 players):
Meyer, Etherton, Street, Saarloos, Tyler Johnson, Scutaro, Dan Johnson

Which two of these seven make the team depends on two decisions: who the fifth starter is, and whether they’ll use 11 or 12 pitchers.

Assuming there will be 11 pitchers:

There are four guys battling for the fifth rotation spot: Yabu, Etherton, Saarloos, and Meyer. Meyer was “Plan A”, but he has struggled this spring, and may get some more seasoning in Sacramento. Saarloos is coming back from injury, and will probably end up in AAA to build his arm strength some more.

So starter #5 is likely either Yabu or Etherton. If it’s Yabu, Huston Street probably makes the team in the bullpen. If it’s Seth Etherton, Street probably goes to Sacramento, and Yabu ends up in the pen.

Rule 5-er Tyler Johnson hasn’t pitched well, and is likely now to be offered back to St. Louis. He has an outside chance if the A’s decide on 12 pitchers, I suppose. But really, he doesn’t deserve to be on the team ahead of Street or Etherton.

My guess is that Etherton will be the fifth starter, Yabu ends up in the pen, Street, Meyer and Dan Johnson get a little more time in AAA, Tyler Johnson is sent back to St. Louis, and Marco Scutaro ends up with the last roster spot.

In the Clouds

We all know spring training stats are meaningless. So are horoscopes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t read them anyway.

Like horoscopes, we tend to read into them whatever we want to read into them. If the prediction is wrong, we ignore it. If it’s right–wow, that’s great!

In that spirit, I tend to seek out the stats which look like they’re supposed to look. I know it’s not logical, but they reassure me.

I’m currently finding a lot of comfort in these Cactus League numbers:

Player      ERA
--- ---
R Harden    3.75
B Zito      4.00
D Haren     2.00
J Blanton   4.00
K Yabu      4.00
S Etherton  2.25

Hey, the starting pitching looks good! No worries.

Of course, I then go and rationalize away numbers like this:

Player      ERA
--- ---
O Dotel     9.64
D Meyer    10.38

Those stats look bad, but that’s because in this case, we’re talking a small sample size.

Using a similar lack of logic, I have chosen to ignore all of the A’s spring training batting stats, except Jason Kendall’s. His are the only numbers that seem close to what I’d expect. So Kendall: wow, he’s gonna be great, I’m sure.

Otherwise, the spring stats have been nonsense. Half the team’s home runs have been hit by Eric Byrnes. The star hitter in camp has been Mark Ellis. Nearly everyone else is hitting around .200.

Using numbers like those to project the upcoming season is just crazy talk. It’s as silly as astrologers predicting the future by staring up at the sky.

But hey, check out that big fluffy cloud over there. It kinda looks like Jason Kendall, doesn’t it?

Congressional Hearing Recap

Will Thursday’s congressional hearing
On the chemical reengineering
Of the bodies of players
Lead to more layers
Of federal law interfering?

The players and owners agreed:
“There currently isn’t a need
For new regulations.
Our pure motivations
Are enough to ensure we’ll succeed.”

Canseco, who’d written a book
Admitting the steroids he took,
Was boldly dissenting.
“They’re misrepresenting;
Believe them, and you are a schnook.”

Said players: “Consider the source.
A career with a bitter divorce.
He’s spent time in jail.
His honor’s for sale.
He’s a man without any remorse.”

Congressional leaders weren’t buying.
“Think of the kids who are dying!
Unless from each hero
The drug use is zero,
More and more youth will be trying.”

“To answer your questions,” said Schilling,
“We’ll solve this, and someday, God willing,
I’ll be voted up there
To a senator’s chair,
And that will feel much more fulfilling.”

Palmeiro propounded, “It’s true.
Whatever Curt said, we should do.
He has my respect.
I’m sure he’s correct.”
While Sosa supplied a “Me, too.”

The positive-spinner McGwire
Said, “Labels like ‘cheater’ and ‘liar’
Are excessively crappy.
Instead, let’s be happy,
And not discuss incidents prior.”

The panel discussed the new deal,
And found it was somewhat surreal.
It hadn’t existed
‘Til arms had been twisted!
Was someone asleep at the wheel?

“I don’t want to sound like a jerk,
But that’s how these labor deals work,”
Manfred explained.
“A deal is obtained,
And later it’s typed by some clerk.”

The Congress kept up its critique.
“The punishments here are too weak!
Five strikes you’re out
Is a deal with no clout
To stop the next phony physique.”

“I certainly want stronger testing,”
said Selig. “And I’m not suggesting
We name any names,
Or give players the blame,
But strictness is what I’m requesting.”

The fuss ends up falling on Fehr.
He’ll never, of course, volunteer
That the union’s at fault.
Any chief worth his salt
Unerringly knows where to steer.

And so, when the actors departed,
I felt I was back where I started.
Unsure who to blame,
Who to trust with the game,
Just sour and sad and sick-hearted.

Questions I’m Asking Myself

Question: Will the steroid hearings be televised?

I’m not so much interested in what the congress members ask or what the witnesses answer. I’m just curious to see how much the temperature drops in Washington when Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco share the same room. I’m sure Jose’s gonna get quite a few icy stares.

Answer: Yes, on C-SPAN3. Don’t get C-SPAN3? View it live online, on the CSPAN web site: Real Media, Windows Media.

 
Question: Should I feel any differently about the Bash Brothers era because of the steroids? And never mind how I should feel, how do I actually feel?

Answer: I had always felt rather cheated that the earthquake ruined the joy of winning the World Series in 1989. It wasn’t appropriate to whoop it up after what had just happened. It didn’t feel as fulfilling as it should to have my team win it all.

Now we know that my “cheated feeling” may have fit the accomplishment quite appropriately.

In those days, I’d always arrive at the ballpark just as the gates opened, because Canseco and McGwire put on a simply amazing show in batting practice every day. I can’t look back on it now without bringing back the sense of fun and awe I felt at the time.

So perhaps I should feel bad that this era was tainted with chemical enhancements, but I don’t. The relationship might have ended with accusations of cheating and a chilly divorce, but it was sure fun while it lasted. I can’t change that.

Billy Needs Help

To continue the religious theme around here, it was Christmas in March at the Arneson house today. The FedEx Santa delivered my favorite package: season tickets.

I get to play Santa for the people I share the tickets with later, but first, I have to open the package to see what they look like, and feel them in my hands. This is when the baseball season truly becomes tangible.

It appears the A’s are sticking with the “A’s Brand” marketing scheme they used last year. The ticket booklet declares on the cover: “INSIDE: this book contains up to 6 months of pure bliss.”

The tickets are very cleverly designed. Instead of just having pictures of players as they had in the past, now they have given the tickets some extra utility. Some tickets have coupons, some have silly lists like a “Dot Racing Wager Card” and a Pre-Game Checklist (“foam finger”, “emergency backup foam finger”…) and some have games, like a word search, and a mad lib.

But this one really cracked me up:

 
No wonder Eric Byrnes hasn’t been traded yet…

Lawn Clippings

We had our first warm weather of the year this week in the Bay Area, but I missed it. I was spending my days in front of the computer, getting this site off the ground.

My lawn, however, did take in the sunny weather. I looked out my window yesterday and my lawn was suddenly two inches higher than I remembered it. Man, I gotta get out of the house.

So what a better thing to do than spend Saturday afternoon outside, doing yardwork while listening to the A’s-White Sox game?

Some clippings from the mower:

  • Rich Harden started the game, and was awesome. Struck out the side in the first. Gave up a solo homer to Carl Everett in the fourth, but that the only trouble he had.

    I think Harden’s ready to have a big year. He seems to be improving as a pitcher every time I see him. For some reason, PECOTA does not agree with me. PECOTA predicts a 4.46 ERA for Harden this year, a regression to the same ERA he had as a rookie. The other projection systems: Marcel predicts 4.02, while ZiPS is the only one that actually predicts Harden to improve over last year’s 3.99 ERA, at 3.89. I’ll take the under on all of them.

  • Eric Chavez launched his first homer of the spring, a three-run shot off Jose Contreras. He’s also leading the cactus league in walks, after leading the AL in walks last year despite missing six weeks with a broke hand.
  • Octavio Dotel had a bad outing. Ray Fosse said his slider looked flat.
  • Daric Barton, in first spring training AB after having his appendix removed, worked a walk. Did you expect anything else? He ended up scoring the winning run.
  • Kurt Suzuki has impressed behind the plate. He’s thrown out four runners trying to steal this spring.
  • Keiichi Yabu, 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, then allowed just a single in the ninth to close out a 7-6 A’s win.

If Bloggers Wrote the Classics: Genesis 1-3

Baseball Musings:

Only two days into the existence of the universe, and God makes the firmament. It should be interesting to find out what He does with it.

Update: On the third day, God makes dry land and adds some plants, too. I wonder, how will they photosynthesize in all this darkness?

Update: God creates light on the fourth.

 

Mike’s Baseball Rants:

Sometimes the old traditions get it right.

The seven-day week is one of those traditions. The intention was that people would work hard for six days, and rest the seventh. But now people are resting the sixth day, as well.

Now you only get five days of productivity per seven days, instead of six.
That’s a difference of 85.7% – 71.4% = 14.3 percentage points, or a 16.6% drop
in productivity.

If God had been 16.6% less efficient, we would have no animals, and no people. That sixth day can really make a difference.

Let us examine the productivity levels of the various work/rest permutations. Here we have one day of rest:

Days of work Days of rest Productivity
2 1 66.7%
3 1 75.0%
4 1 80.0%
5 1 83.3%
6 1 85.7%

Notice, even a four-day week is better than the 5/2 week we currently have, and a three-day week isn’t much worse.

If we insist on retaining two consecutive days off, we’d have to
work 12 consecutive days to reach the original level of productivity of the
6/1 week:

Days of work Days of rest Productivity
6 2 75.0%
7 2 77.8%
8 2 80.0%
9 2 81.8%
10 2 83.3%
11 2 84.6%
12 2 85.7%

And what about three-day weekends?

Days of work Days of rest Productivity
6 3 66.8%
7 3 70.0%
8 3 72.0%
9 3 75.0%
10 3 76.9%
11 3 78.5%
12 3 80.0%
13 3 81.2%
14 3 82.3%
15 3 83.3%
16 3 84.2%
17 3 85.0%
18 3 85.7%

Now who would want to work eighteen days in a row? Clearly, if we want
an optimal balance between productivity and rest we should behold the sixth
day. It is very good.

 

Batgirl:

Batgirl’s boyfriend of the day is Adam. Adam came up with all the names for the animals:

“And I’ll call you Pandy, and you Stripy, and you Bunny and you Wooly, and you Moomoo.”

Poor Adam had to sleep alone. Batgirl felt sorry for him.

But then one day, a miracle happened! Adam got a girlfriend!

No, it wasn’t Batgirl, alas.

 

Will Carroll:

Adam needed to have a rib removed, and would normally have been expected to miss six to eight weeks. But God used a new surgical technique to close up the flesh instead thereof. Adam is now considered day-to-day.

 

Athletics Nation:

Blez: Where are you?
Adam: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was
naked; and I hid myself.

Blez: Who told you you were naked? Did you eat of the tree that
Billy Beane commanded you not to eat?

Adam: The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree,
and I did eat.

Blez: Eve, what is this that you have done?
Eve: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

 

Humbug

God orders, “Don’t eat the fruit!”
Snake says, “You’ll be more astute!”
The pair take a bite,
They learn wrong from right,
Then God gives the sinners the boot.

Ask, and Thou Shalt Receive

I recently wrote this about a potential new stadium for the A’s:

I don’t want some moneygrubbing shopping mall of a stadium. I want a green cathedral, crafted by a passion for excellence, and sculpted for the souls of the faithful.

And now this news: the A’s flagship radio station, KFRC 610, is being sold, and will convert from an oldies format to religious programming.

Um, guys? I’m glad you responded so promptly to my request. But when I said I wanted a ballpark that was a cathedral, please understand. That was a metaphor.

Stop Casting Porosity!

Welcome to Catfish Stew, where we finally put a stop to all of the porosity casting that plagues society.

If you’re an Oakland A’s fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If not, here’s an explanation:

For years, there was a huge sign by the freeway just south of the Coliseum that said “Stop Casting Porosity”. What did it mean? Was it a protest sign? An ad? Nobody seems to know.

To me, that mysterious sign functioned as a symbol for all the things I still don’t know. Sadly, the sign disappeared a few years ago. If I had my choice, I would have declared it a historical landmark.

Anyway, so now that the worst of my big programming project is done, I can finally get back to writing about baseball and my favorite team again. Feels good.

So how about them A’s?

Church Chat

Glenn Dickey had a status report on the stadium plans in the Chronicle this morning.

It seems a special task force has been formed to move the project forward. I like what I’ve heard. First of all, this group doesn’t seem to harbor any fantasies about public financing. They’re talking retail and housing development around the BART station to help fund the plan, using private money and urban development funds, not new taxes.

The part I like best is that they seem to have some sense of aesthetics:

  • They shot down the parking garage idea previously discussed. I don’t know how a parking garage would have worked, and apparently they don’t either. Have you ever seen a parking garage that wasn’t an eyesore?
  • They talk about building on the south side, but not in the existing lot.I guess that would mean building on the site of the abandoned Home Base store, right along Hegenberger. Building along a street instead of in the middle of a sea of parked cars would probably look nicer, too.
  • One of the task force members, Glenn Isaacson, is working on the Oakland Catholic Cathedral project.

The original design for the Church of Christ the Light in Oakland was done by Santiago Calatrava, one of the world’s leading architects. Calatrava designed the acclaimed wing to the Milwaukee Art Museum, as well as the Turning Torso, an unusual twisting skyscraper, the tallest building in Sweden, being built a mile from where my brother lives.

Calatrava has apparently left the Cathedral project, but his original design is moving forward. Check out the pictures in this article. The building, which will overlook Lake Merritt, looks fabulous. Oakland may soon get the signature building it so sorely lacks.

The idea that someone involved in the Cathedral project is also involved in the A’s stadium project gives me hope. It shows a commitment to Oakland, to great architecture, and to the idea that human spirituality is worth something.

I don’t want some moneygrubbing shopping mall of a stadium. I want a green cathedral, crafted by a passion for excellence, and sculpted for the souls of the faithful.