Month: August 2005
Game Photos: A’s vs. Twins
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-13 23:51

I went to the A’s-Twins game Saturday. The A’s retired Dennis Eckersley’s #43. I’ll post some photos from that ceremony tomorrow.

But first, check out this slideshow from the game. I happened to get a really great shot of Justin Morneau hitting his mammoth home run. Plus a close-up of Jay Payton’s homer, too.

Wolff Lifts Veil on Ballpark Plans
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-12 16:50

The details are starting to filter in on Lew Wolff’s presentation to the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority.

KRON has the best photos, although they’re small.

NBC 11 has the best video. (It only works on IE for me, not Firefox.)

And of course, Marine Layer is staying on top of it all.

My impressions:

  • Lew Wolff knows what he’s doing. He seems to know what people will go for and not go for. He seems to say all the right things without being dishonest.

    The masterful part of this is that he was worked within those realistic limitations, and somehow come up with an amazingly bold plan.

    That takes vision, persistence, and guts. I think this plan can happen, because I think people will follow him. I think there’s something about Wolff that makes people want to follow him.

    Wolff looks to me like a true Level 5 leader. A combination of humility and willpower that Jim Collins identified as the most effective kind of CEO in his book Good To Great:

    They are somewhat self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who have an almost stoic resolve to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the company great, channeling their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves.

    There’s an awesome team in Oakland now, both on the field and in the front office.

  • The ballpark proposal is too enclosed. Oakland has the best weather in the major leagues: it’s rarely too hot or cold, too wet or windy. The ballpark needs to take advantage of that.

    Don’t put the entire second deck in the shade with a large overhang. Don’t completely block the view of the Oakland Hills with a series of large structures in the outfield. Open things up a bit more, let the park breathe.

  • Bye, bye, foul territory. If you want to preserve some of the historical character of the team (and I think you should), you have two basic choices: a large foul territory, or a view of the hills. I’d rather see the hills and be closer to the field.

    You can still make the ballpark a pitchers’ park, even with a small foul territory. There’s a park like that just across the bay.

    Please, don’t build a bandbox. They’re negatively correlated to championships. Billy Beane must be able to appreciate that.

    A corollary to that: all new ballparks should be built with adjustable outfield seating. This is to avoid situations like like Detroit, where they had to move the fences in away from the seats, or Philly, where they’re stuck with fences too close to home plate. If you make first few rows adjustable, you can change the park without messing up the aesthetics. If you build a bandbox, just remove a row of seats. If you build a pitcher’s dream, add a row of seats.

  • I love the intimacy of the seating bowl. Even the top row looks close to the field, rather like the old-timey parks like Tiger Stadium and Wrigley Field.

    From the pictures, though, I can’t even see a suite level. Surely there’s a suite level?

    Also can’t see: bullpens and hitter’s eye.

  • I like the Triangle thingy in the outfield. It reminds me of Fenway and Wrigley.

    In fact, I’m fine with all of those buildings out there, as long as we don’t get all of those buildings out there. Like I said, I want to see the Oakland Hills.

  • Many of the reports have said that Wolff wants a new BART station between the Fruitvale and Coliseum stops. But if the ballpark is built right on 66th Avenue as depicted, you don’t really need another BART station. It would still be within reasonable walking distance.

    It’s only if the ballpark gets built further north, around where the flea market is right now, that you’d really need a new BART station.

  • Jon Carroll wrote about Jon Miller today:

    He has gravitas. He also has whimsy. Go try to find that combination anyplace else.

    On a similar note, I ask: where’s the Stomper Fun Zone? My kids will want to know. It doesn’t look like there’s a Coke-bottle slide or giant mitt or any sort of just pure silliness. This is a place where a game is played. The proposal has gravitas. It lacks whimsy.

  • New ballpark! Yippee-yi-yay! Woohoo!

    (That was supposed to represent whimsy. Whimsy ain’t as easy as it looks.)

Kid Kendall
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-11 21:56

My five-year-old daughter decided early in the season that Jason Kendall was her favorite player. I’m not quite sure why, but she kept telling everyone who would listen that Kendall is “fast for a catcher.” That piece of trivia really fascinated her, for some reason.

She didn’t get her cues about her favorite player from me. Kendall has probably been my least favorite A’s player this year. All those weak grounders to third and one-hop throws to second have really grated on me. Early in the season, I blurted out in my daughter’s presence that Kendall was a “double play machine”, and I still feel bad about it.

* * * authentic customized Jason Kendall jersey made of comfortable and resilient polyester: $189.99.

Home-made Jason Kendall jersey, made with a roll of paper, some tape, and a pen: priceless.

* * *

How many things in life are better than helping your kid become a baseball fan?

Very few, so I better not blow it. It’s not right for a kid to have a favorite player, to decide on her own to replicate a jersey, and then later find out that her dad thinks that player sucks. I need to learn to love Jason Kendall.

I’ve been trying to appreciate what Kendall can do well–get on base, call a game, and make good decisions–and accept his weak arm and powerless swing. But it isn’t easy to turn a reasonable argument into an emotional reality.

That’s where a play like today’s game winning run helps. Kendall’s been in the center of the two most memorable plays of this magical season, the tag of Soriano at home in Texas, and today’s mad dash home off Francisco Rodriguez. They were both unlikely, game winning plays where Kendall’s instinctive, quick-thinking and aggressive style won a game for the A’s.

That’s something I can appreciate. Hey, maybe that kid’s OK.

Bill King Sums It Up
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-11 16:04

“That’s one for the books! Holy Toledo!”

That’s one for the blogs, too. Wow. More soon…

Humbugardy: Literary Baseball for 300
by Score Bard
2005-08-11 12:19

This is Humbugardy. I’m your host, Alex Scorebard.


This poet was referring to men with brooms, not bats, when he innocently sang, “down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run”.


Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
100 Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
Baby Maddux 200 200 Cliff Corcoran 200 200
300 300 300 For The Turnstiles 300
400 400 400 Bob Timmerman 400 400
500 500 500 Shaun P 500 500

Note: Using the web to search is cheating…you gotta know (or guess) off the top of your head.

Humbugardy: Bravery for 200
by Score Bard
2005-08-10 14:24

This is Humbugardy. I’m your host, Alex Scorebard.


A playoff game ending
That seemed like a dream
He hit the single
That drove in Sid Bream.


Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
100 Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
Baby Maddux 200 200 Cliff Corcoran 200 200
300 300 300 For The Turnstiles Next… 300
400 400 400 Bob Timmerman 400 400
500 500 500 Shaun P 500 500

Note: Using the web to search is cheating…you gotta know (or guess) off the top of your head.

Don’t Look Down
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-10 1:25

The house was almost full. Over 40,000 people showed up on a Tuesday night for the battle for first place between the A’s and Angels.

The crowd was buzzing. Up in the stands, everyone seemed excited. The game started. The first pitch:

And that was the end of the good news. All the bad breaks, crazy bounces, and unfortunate mistakes that the A’s had been avoiding for two months suddenly showed up all at once in the first two innings. The A’s had double-play balls in each inning that resulted in no outs. There was a strikeout that didn’t get an out. Rich Harden’s a very good pitcher, but it’s hard for even the best pitchers to hold down the opposition when he has to get 11 outs to get through two innings.

It left me shaking my head. It felt just like one of those playoff losses where the A’s lost, not because the other team beat them, but because of the most bizarre, uncharacteristic plays you could imagine.

Looking down on the field quickly went from exciting to depressing. I decided to look up instead. The sky was much more interesting than the game.

There was a small moon over the Arena:

And a colorful sunset over the parking lot.

Good night. See you tomorrow.

Angels vs. A’s, Or, What You Will
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-09 16:16

There’s a scene in Twelfth Night, where the siblings Sebastian and Viola, who had feared each other dead, finally discover the other is alive.

Yet, they don’t immediately start celebrating. (“Viola, you’re alive!” “Sebastian! Thank God!”) Instead, (partly because Viola is dressed like a man) they proceed as if it is impossible to believe such good news without first providing each other with overwhelming proof:

SEBASTIAN: …Were you a woman, as the rest goes even,
I should my tears let fall upon your cheek,
And say ‘Thrice-welcome, drowned Viola!’

VIOLA: My father had a mole upon his brow.

SEBASTIAN: And so had mine.

VIOLA: And died that day when Viola from her birth
Had number’d thirteen years.

SEBASTIAN: O, that record is lively in my soul!
He finished indeed his mortal act
That day that made my sister thirteen years.

VIOLA: If nothing lets to make us happy both
But this my masculine usurp’d attire,
Do not embrace me till each circumstance
Of place, time, fortune, do cohere and jump
That I am Viola; …

That’s what this upcoming three game series with the Angels is like.

The A’s have miraculously survived a shipwreck of a May to come back and reach a first-place tie with the Angels. It’s miraculous–could there be a happy ending in store for us?

But there’s that one little thing that holds us back, that makes us gather more and more evidence before we can believe it: we’ve been here before. We’ve seen more tragedies than comedies. We’ve seen the A’s have miraculous streaks; have big leads; make big comebacks; take the lead in playoff series…only to have our dreams crushed at the end in excruciating fashion by cruel fate.

Tonight, there’s a most wonderful buzz in the air. The excitement is building around us and within us. Our greatest hopes are right there, in front of our very eyes, but it isn’t quite enough to fully let loose. We need to know just a little bit more, just one more piece of evidence before we can truly accept that this is for real.

So as I head out tonight to the Coliseum, that’s what I’m seeking: the right combination of events, that extra line in the play, the perfect circumstance of place, time and fortune to demonstrate that A’s are indeed a championship-quality team.

Humbugardy: Tools of Ignorance for 500
by Score Bard
2005-08-08 14:16

This is Humbugardy. I’m your host, Alex Scorebard.


He figured out that homers matter,
Wheeled the Babe out as a batter.


Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
100 Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
200 200 200 Cliff Corcoran 200 200
300 300 300 For The Turnstiles 300 300
400 400 400 Bob Timmerman 400 400
500 500 500 Shaun P 500 500

Note: Using the web to search is cheating…you gotta know (or guess) off the top of your head.

Bill King = Orson Welles?
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-07 21:45

Tonight, I somehow managed to surf my way to Orson Welles’ famous Frozen Peas rant, where he complains about the copy he’s supposed to read for an advertisement.

Listening to the mp3, there was something about the rant that really reminded me of Bill King.

It wasn’t really Welles’ voice; that sounds more like Jon Miller than Bill King. It was something else, and I’m trying to put my finger on it.

In particular, when Welles said:

“You’re such pests!”

I almost felt Welles and King merging into one.

Perhaps it’s in the pronunciation, the dialect. I immediately noticed the way Welles fully enunciated the “ch” and “s-t-s” in “such pests”. The intonation of that phrase also struck me as similar to King’s.

Or perhaps it was simply the unusual mix of emotions you get when a well-educated master of the English language refuses to suffer fools gladly. A well-phrased, well-delivered and well-deserved insult is quite satisfying to listen to, but there’s also a underlying sense of intimidation: not one where you fear for your physical safety, but one where you fear for your self-esteem. If a man of that stature decides you’re a fool and lets you know about it, you’d probably want to crawl into a hole and disappear.

And on that note, I better stop right here. If King doesn’t like the comparison, he may channel Welles and put me down:

That’s just idiotic, if you forgive me for saying so. That’s just stupid.

and that would be the end of me.

A’s In First Place! A’s Catcher Homers!
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-07 11:40

Adam Melhuse could not hold out any longer. Today, he hit the first home run by an A’s catcher this year. And he just barely missed a second one–in his second at-bat, he hit one off the top of the center field wall for an RBI double. That leaves Jason Kendall as the undisputed Master of His Domain.

At this moment, the A’s are blowing out the Royals for the second straight day, 8-0 in the 4th, heading for a series sweep.

Last night, the A’s moved into a first place tie with the Angels. They also moved four games up on the Yankees in the wild card race. Even if the A’s don’t end up making the playoffs, this is still an amazing accomplishment. IIRC, there was one point this season when the A’s playoff odds had fallen below 1%; now it’s 71.4%.

The bad news: Mark Kotsay’s back looked visibly stiff, and he came out of the game. Thank Beane for Jay Payton.

Humbugardy: Tools of Ignorance for 400
by Score Bard
2005-08-05 18:01

This is Humbugardy. I’m your host, Alex Scorebard.


In Lew’s short career
He mostly just sat,
Likely because of
A hole in his bat.


Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
100 Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
200 200 200 Cliff Corcoran 200 200
300 300 300 For The Turnstiles 300 300
400 400 400 Bob Timmerman 400 400
500 500 500 Next… 500 500

Note: Using the web to search is cheating…you gotta know (or guess) off the top of your head.

Hermey’s Choice
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-04 22:59

There are many reasons why people blog. Mine are twofold:

  1. Because I enjoy the creative process.
  2. Because I want to remember. I want to remember the things I learn, the things I find interesting, and the way I felt about those things at the time.

When I have trouble blogging about the A’s, it’s usually because I didn’t see anything that I felt was worth remembering. The last two games against the Twins were like that.

The only thing to note is that Dan Johnson came back home to Minnesota as a major leaguer for the first time, playing in front of large numbers of friends and family, and had a very good series, including an upper deck home run on Thursday. That was nice to see. Good for him.

But otherwise, these were two well-played games by both teams, close until the end. Each team came out with a victory: a fair result, all things considered, but unremarkable. Later, these two games will probably just blend away into the fabric of the season, and disappear.

* * *

But I think I’ll remember this day, for personal reasons. It was my half-birthday. Six months left to the big 4-0. My wife’s ten-year-old nephew (I’ll call him Hermey for reasons that will soon become clear) came over for the day to play with my two daughters (8 and 5).

Hermey’s pretty much an average kid except for one thing: he’s been obsessed with baseball since he was about four years old. The game comes incredibly naturally to him; his left-handed pitching motion is about as smooth as any I’ve seen at any level of play. Last year, he struck out 40 batters in 19 innings pitched. A couple weeks ago, he threw a no-hitter in an all-star tournament.

He studies the motions of every left-handed pitcher he sees, until he can imitate that pitcher with uncanny precision. I worry that he might ruin his great natural delivery some day by copying some major leaguer with worse mechanics than his.

I played some catch with Hermey, and the first thing he did was show me his latest imitation. “Look, this is how Joe Kennedy pitches,” he said. Sure enough, suddenly I’m playing catch with Joe Kennedy’s shorter twin, complete with Kennedy’s straight-kneed, stiff front leg that makes it look as if he’s gonna jam his thigh bone up into his hip. Enough of that, I think, let’s imitate some better mechanics. “Show me Barry Zito,” I say.

* * *

After lunch, we took my oldest daughter to her first ever visit to the orthodontist. So many memories I had buried long ago suddenly resurfaced: the scratchy feeling of gauze in my mouth after having teeth pulled, the icky smell of the wet plastic of my retainer, the strange feeling of pressure on my teeth while having my braces tightened, and the even stranger lack of pressure when those braces finally came off.

Obviously, my memories of orthodontics aren’t too pleasant. My daughter probably sensed that from me. She looked a little nervous going in. But it ended up not being a problem at all, because we had Hermey with us.

Hermey in that dentist’s office was like the proverbial kid in a candy store. He was excited by everything: the waiting room, the toothbrushes, the chairs, the mirrors, the computers, you name it. He loved it all. Finally, he just burst out: “Oh man, this is all so cool! When I grow up, I am definitely either going to be a ballplayer or a dentist!”

Now who can be nervous in the presence of such enthusiasm?

* * *

Most of us are lucky if we find one thing we are passionate about in life. Hermey has two. At some point in his life, he’ll have to choose between them, to decide which passion is greater. I can see it now: Eight years hence, Hermey is drafted in the first round of the draft:

GM: Why won’t you accept our offer?

Hermey: I just don’t want to play professional baseball.

GM: Oh well if that’s all– What? You don’t want to play professional baseball?

Hermey: No.

GM: Hermey doesn’t want to play professional baseball!

Scouts: Hermey doesn’t want to play professional baseball! All that talent going to waste! Shame on you!

GM: Would you mind telling me what you do wanna do?

Hermey: Well, I’d like to be a dentist.

I think Hermey could genuinely walk away from that contract negotiation and still be happy elf human being. That’s what I call leverage.

Humbugardy: Tools of Ignorance for 300
by Score Bard
2005-08-04 20:05

This is Humbugardy. I’m your host, Alex Scorebard.


No matter which jersey,
He’d usually wield
20-plus homers
And smoothness afield.


Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
100 Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
200 200 200 Cliff Corcoran 200 200
300 300 300 For The Turnstiles 300 300
400 400 400 400 400 400
500 500 500 500 500 500

Note: Using the web to search is cheating…you gotta know (or guess) off the top of your head.

Orioles Fire Manager
by Score Bard
2005-08-04 16:45

Why put the blame on Mazzilli?
The GM needs pitchers more skilli.
Lee can’t have controlled
That Sosa got old,
And Roberts and Mora went chilli.

Knocked the Blue Jays Off Their Perch
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-03 12:54

Last night, the A’s beat the Twins, 5-2. They could have moved into a first place tie in the AL West had the Angels lost, but Vladimir Guerrero didn’t cooperate.

On the other hand, the A’s did manage to move into first place in the MLB Heavyweight standings. They equalled the Blue Jays’ 20 title bout victories. But since it took the A’s ten fewer games to get those 20 wins, the A’s now own first place.

The Blue Jays had been in first place by themselves since May 11.

Humbugardy: Tools of Ignorance for 200
by Score Bard
2005-08-03 11:00

This is Humbugardy. I’m your host, Alex Scorebard.


Before his song-and-dancing days
He was batboy for the A’s


Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
100 Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
200 200 200 Cliff Corcoran 200 200
300 300 300 Next… 300 300
400 400 400 400 400 400
500 500 500 500 500 500

Note: Using the web to search is cheating…you gotta know (or guess) off the top of your head.

Humbugardy: Same School for 100
by Score Bard
2005-08-02 12:26

This is Humbugardy. I’m your host, Alex Scorebard.


Barry Bonds and Reggie:
500 homers: great!
They share this alma mater.


Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
100 Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
200 200 200 Next… 200 200
300 300 300 300 300 300
400 400 400 400 400 400
500 500 500 500 500 500

Note: Using the web to search is cheating…you gotta know (or guess) off the top of your head.

Nothing on the Ants
by Ken Arneson
2005-08-02 0:51

We humans think we’re all hot stuff cuz we got an Advanced Civilization with cool High-Tech gizmos like them Computer Internets that can quickly inform the masses of important information, like the news that They Found Steroids In Rafael Palmeiro’s Pee.


Yesterday, I left an open container of sugar on my counter, and in less than 24 hours, not only had every ant in Northern California found out that They Found Sugar In Ken Arneson’s Kitchen, they had all physically appeared inside my house to investigate the chemical for themselves.

Until we humans learn to do teleportation, we’ve got nothing on the ants.

* * *

Question: Which of these news stories on Monday was the most surprising?


A. Barry Bonds declares himself out for the year.

B. Rafael Palmeiro tests positive for steroids.

C. Joe Blanton outpitches Johan Santana.

D. Bomb explodes outside BA, BP Offices in Iran


Gotta be D. I didn’t even know Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had offices in Iran.

* * *

While the ESPN commentators were blathering on about Palmeiro during Monday’s A’s-Twins game, they completely ignored a really interesting play. Bobby Kielty executed a textbook example of when and how to slide into first base. SS Jason Bartlett threw high to first base, forcing Justin Morneau to leap off the bag to catch it. Kielty reacted perfectly, quickly sliding right under Morneau’s tag attempt. If Kielty had run straight through, he would have been out. ESPN didn’t even notice what a cool play Kielty made. They didn’t discuss it, or even show a single replay. But trust me, go find the tape and put that play in your own personal instructional video. I give it my full en dorse ment.

* * *

Just wondering: why would anybody invest over a million dollars to build robots to mow ads into grass, when you could just use existing first-down-line technology to accomplish the same thing on TV?

* * * has a nice photo gallery up on the A’s. This picture is the final out from an A’s-Phils game I went to. When I saw it live, I thought Johnson missed the tag, and seeing this picture, I still can’t tell.

* * *

I agree that classical music isn’t inherently superior to modern musical genres. Neither, however, is it doomed to obscurity: BBC’s recordings of Beethoven symphonies recently became (by far) the most downloaded music recordings ever. The classical art forms still have a role to play in the modern world, but as the times and the technologies and the art forms change, it takes time to figure out what that new role is.

* * *

I was thinking about the Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies this weekend. There’s one award for Print Journalism. There’s another for Broadcast Journalism. Will there come a time, when we have come to understand the role of blogging in our society, when we see a third award category, for Online Journalism?

* * *

That’s it for now. Gotta go run and fight off another wave of ants…

I Don’t Know How To Say It Any More Clearly
by Score Bard
2005-08-01 17:22

I (Capital) never (Dot).
Ever (Period). Took (Not
by mistake (Close paren)
Any steroids (Footnote 10)
and cross my (Comma), hope to (Dash)–
Stuck (No) needles in my (Ca$h).

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