Parting

Brown hills rise beyond the eastern walls;
Freeways flow around us.

Here is where we must separate
To wander the asphalt for a thousand miles.

The clouds drift mindlessly.
The sun sets into the darkness like a handshake.

We roll down our windows, reach out, and wave.
The car horns bray their farewells.

Li Po (very roughly translated)

I went to the A’s final home game today, to say my goodbyes to the 2005 Oakland Athletics.

The game itself was not memorable at all, except perhaps for an absolutely Kingmanesque home run by Nick Swisher. That thing went way, way up in the sky. If Mount Davis were located just behind first base, the ball might have cleared it. It eventually came down, with just enough distance to clear the right field fence.

Otherwise, the game had less energy to it than a spring training game. Barry Zito didn’t look like he had his mind in the game, as he threw some sloppy pitches that got whacked for home runs. That mattered little, as the A’s offense–without Crosby and Chavez–did almost nothing besides Swisher’s moonshot. I think Hiram Bocachica could face Bartolo Colon fastballs for weeks on end, and still whiff on every single one of them. He looked completely overmatched.

The outcome (7-1 Angels) didn’t matter, really. We were there for the last at-bat, to give one final cheer for this team, as thanks. Mark Ellis gave a valiant effort as the last man standing, fouling off about six Brendan Donnelly pitches before finally striking out. Standing ovation.

Ellis’ at-bat personifies this year’s team: a brave battle that fell short in the end. Last year’s A’s fell just short, as well, but they were far less likable. The 2004 A’s were an aging team that fell apart. The 2005 A’s were a young team that came together.

As the Angels shook hands, they posted this on Diamond Vision:

Next A’s Home Game
April 3, 2006, 7:05pm
vs. New York Yankees

I hadn’t really accepted the season was done until I saw that. But that struck me. April. It seems so far away. What to do, where to go, in the meantime?

This may be the most boring offseason in the history of the Oakland A’s. A right-handed power bat in left field would probably top my wishlist, but Billy Beane doesn’t really *need* to do much at all except let his players mature.

The players cleared the dugouts. The groundskeepers started grooming the field.

I stopped behind home plate, and looked out over that green grass one last time. Then I climbed the steps, walked out the tunnel, crossed the parking lot, got in my car, and drove away.

Humbugardy: Same School For 200

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

 

Chicken soup with Humber
Townsend drafted twice
Chicken soup with Niemann
Houston…

 

Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
misterjohnny Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
Baby Maddux Sam DC For The Turnstiles Cliff Corcoran TFD MattPat11
Dan Lucero TFD Joe For The Turnstiles Ryan Wilkins cynic
Shaun P Jacob L T J Bob Timmerman Bob Timmerman Shaun P
Rorschach Bob Timmerman Philip Michaels Shaun P Derek Smart Cliff Corcoran

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

Gallery Of Elimination

For Immediate Release
(Alameda, CA. Issued via: Toaster Public Relations Agencies, LLC.)

The K.M. Arneson Gallery, the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection devoted to the paintings of the leader of the Toasterrealists, is proud to announce it has become even larger and more comprehensive, with the acquisition of the “Elimination Day: 2005” series of paintings, purchased from a private collector for ß1,500,000,000.

The “Elimination Day: 2005” collection includes such revered works such as:


Bloop Falls In


Kotsay Runs Out Of Room


Harden Auf Pen


Hope, Or, What Might Have Been


Injury To Insult


The Final Swing


Dance of the Angels

The K.M. Arneson Gallery is proud to add these magnificent and revered works of art to its collection, and is looking forward to exhibiting them in the near future.

Before I Go Down

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

Bob Dylan

I burned a hole in my remote control tonight. I juggled three programs: the Angels-A’s game, the Giants-Padres game, and Martin Scorsese’s new documentary on Bob Dylan.

The Giants and A’s were living parallel lives. They both finished one game out last year. They both started four-game series tonight, trailing their opponents in the standings by four games. They both pretty much needed a sweep to avoid elimination. They both need a miracle.

*Click*. Eric Chavez homers. The A’s enter the ninth inning trailing 4-3.

*Click*. Bob Dylan explains how he studied other musicians, trying to figure out what made them so good, what they all have in common. He says there’s something in their eyes, something that says, “I know something that you don’t.”

*Click*. The top of the ninth is taking forever in Oakland. A walk, a hit, and a pitching change drags things out. Huston Street gets Juan Rivera to pop out to shortstop, to keep it a one-run game.

*Click*. Flip to the Giants game. The Giants also trail by a run entering the ninth. Trevor Hoffman is in. He gets two outs, runner on first. One out to go.

Then the Giants get their miracle. Randy Winn hits a ball to deep center. It lands in Brian Giles’ glove, but when Giles hits the wall, the ball jars loose. Winn ends up on third base. After Omar Vizquel walks, J.T. Snow singles to right, and the Giants lead, 3-2.

*Click*. Will the parallel lives continue? Can the A’s get a miracle too?

No such luck. The A’s and Giants paths suddenly diverge. K-Rod sets down the A’s, 1-2-3.

*Click*. Armando Benitez needs one more out. Ramon Hernandez grounds out to Vizquel.

The Giants’ hopes are still alive. The A’s are hanging on by the slimmest of threads.

I’ve been considering going to Tuesday’s game. But now that the A’s have lost, do I really want to witness the Angels clinch the division? And on the A’s home turf? Why set myself up for that kind of pain?

*Click*. Dylan is explaining why he was so prolific in those days. He felt he was exploring something new, something he had never done, nor anyone else.

I will not go down under the ground
‘Cause somebody tells me that death’s comin’ ’round
An’ I will not carry myself down to die
When I go to my grave my head will be high,
Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

Bob Dylan

Indeed. See you at the Coliseum.

Humbugardy: Ballpark Franks for 300

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

 

He ran like a flash
Switched at the dish
Cooperstown called…

 

Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
misterjohnny Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
Baby Maddux Sam DC 200 Cliff Corcoran TFD MattPat11
Dan Lucero TFD Joe For The Turnstiles Ryan Wilkins cynic
Shaun P Jacob L T J Bob Timmerman Bob Timmerman Shaun P
Rorschach Bob Timmerman Philip Michaels Shaun P Derek Smart Cliff Corcoran

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

Hope, Released

Last night’s game report (mouse over the image):

  • it was breast cancer awareness day. they released doves to symbolize hope.
  • rod barajas was initially called out on a foul tip. the umpires discussed it and ruled the ball hit the ground.
  • one pitch after the reversed call, barajas hit a three-run homer.
  • rich harden pitched an inning. a nice sight, but probably too little too late.
  • mark kotsay stranded the bases loaded twice. a’s lose 6-2.

Angels, tonight. 2005 season, four games.

A 72-Year Drought Ends

They’re partying in Sydney, like it’s Boston 2004.

The Sydney Swans of the Australian Football League broke a 72-year championship drought yesterday, defeating the West Coast Eagles 58-54 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. They say it was one of the best Grand Finals ever.

In 1999, I went to an Australian rules football game at the MCG, as they call their sport’s most hallowed ground. It was awesome, a really entertaining sport. Here’s a “footy” primer, if you’re not familiar with the rules.

Footy fans are intense. The match I went to was just an ordinary weeknight regular season game, and there were almost 30,000 people in the stands. Each team has a fight song the fans all sing, and they wave flags and banners all through the match. Here’s a picture from my visit:

Saturday, the Swans had to hang on tooth and nail for their long-awaited victory. They were leading by just five with a minute left. (If you kick the ball between the middle goal posts, you get six points, so the Eagles trailed by only one score.)

The Eagles almost scored a game-winning goal, twice. Once, they got a one-pointer (which you get if the ball goes between the pair of posts on the side). And then…well, just watch the last minute of the final here.

Wow, that was an exciting finish! That’s what the Red Sox victory should have been like last year. That four-game sweep was so anti-climactic. The Red Sox should have had to fight with everything they had to defeat their ghosts.

That’s the proper way to break a curse! Although, hearing the Notre Dame fight song as they celebrated was kinda weird. Still, that’s way better than watching Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore running around on the field.

I suppose, though, that beggars can’t be choosers. If the price for breaking Cal’s 66-year Rose Bowl drought were having to watch Adam Duritz run around naked on the field, I’d probably pay it.

And I wonder, what’s the price for winning an ALDS series?

Elsewhere: Some Poetry In It

I just updated the Periodic Table of Blogs. In that spirit, here’s some bonus blog browsing:

Humbugardy: Bravery for 100

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

 

A steady knee-buckler:
His Hall-of-Fame knuckler.

 

Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
Baby Maddux Sam DC 200 Cliff Corcoran TFD MattPat11
Dan Lucero TFD Joe For The Turnstiles Ryan Wilkins 300
Shaun P Jacob L T J Bob Timmerman Bob Timmerman Shaun P
Rorschach Bob Timmerman Philip Michaels Shaun P Derek Smart Cliff Corcoran

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

Ah, That Day

The Angel of Death flew into Oakland Wednesday, disguised as Michael Cuddyer.

Block: No man can live with Death and know that everything is nothing.

Death: Most people think neither of Death nor nothingness.

Block: Until they stand on the edge of life and see the Darkness.

Death: Ah, that day.

quoted from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

* * * * * *

Death takes possession of the agenda. It is time to discuss business.

Agenda Item #1: Death hits a home run.

Behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke.

Ezekiel 24:16

* * * * * *

You can tell you don’t have your best stuff today. But you deny there is a problem. It is only one run. There is plenty of time.

You grind. You fight. You battle.

You give Death a wound, a foul ball off the shin.

* * * * * *

You have an opening now, a good position to negotiate. Your odds are better now, right? Surely, Death cannot harm us, with only one leg to stand on?

Death gets up. He does not answer your question. He states only, in a matter-of-fact voice, “Your time is growing short.”

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the LORD when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

–Samuel L. Jackson
  in Pulp Fiction

* * * * * *

Agenda Item #2: Death doubles.

Some good-for-nothing–who knows why–
made up the tale that love exists on earth.

People believe it, maybe from laziness
or boredom, and live accordingly:
they wait eagerly for meetings, fear parting,
and when they sing, they sing of love.

–Anna Akhmatova
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

* * * * * *

Life is a pleasant illusion, a hidden gift decorated in agreeable geometries. Love. Joy. Hope. You only see the surface. You notice only what you want to notice.

Piece by piece, Death unwraps the package. Death does not tolerate delusion. Death demands the truth.

The truth makes you queasy. The truth is unsettling. The truth is sickening.

The truth is this: you cannot stop the truth. You cannot disguise the truth with shiny distractions. Any victory is temporary. The truth will out.

Whack its shin, and Death will put on a shin guard. Death will have its day.

Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a possession, and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk.

Ezekiel 25:4

* * * * * *

Michael Cuddyer:
Without thy fruit (vs. rest of baseball): .252/.282/.387.
Drinking thy milk: (vs. Oakland) .367/.424/.967.

Agenda Item #3: Death slides ahead of the throw. Another double.

There are blows in life so violent–Don’t ask me!
Blows as if from the hatred of God; as if before them,
the deep waters of everything lived through
were backed up in the soul…Don’t ask me!

Not many; but they exist…They open dark ravines
in the most ferocious face and in the most bull-like back.
Perhaps they are the horses of that heathen Attila,
or the black riders sent to us by Death.

–Cesar Vallejo
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

* * * * * *

And you scream, “No f@#%ing way! Get a new f@#%ing scouting report on this guy! Nobody else has a problem getting him out! This ain’t f@#%ing happening!”

But the truth is this: Death means business.

Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 25:7

* * * * * *

The truth is this: Your time is running out.

You turn to the past, asking questions, looking for an answer that maybe, maybe can get you out of this mess.

What went wrong?

Each question opens up a wound.

Whose fault is this?

To ask the question, you must relive the pain, over and over again.

What should have been done differently? What should we do now?

The questions are fruitless, and the answers don’t satisfy.

Why? Why now? Why us?

Death provides no answers, only the next bullet point.

Agenda Item #4: Death beats the throw home. Scores standing up.

I ache now without any explanation. My pain is so deep, that it never had a cause nor does it lack a cause now. What could have been its cause? Where is that thing so important, that it might stop being its cause? Its cause is nothing; nothing could have stopped being its cause. For what has this pain been born, for itself? My pain comes from the north wind and from the south wind, like those neuter eggs certain rare birds lay in the wind. If my bride were dead, my pain would be the same. If they had slashed my throat all the way through, my pain would be the same. If life were, in short, different, my pain would be the same. Today I suffer from further above. Today I am simply in pain.

–Cesar Vallejo
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

* * * * * *

You’re on the edge of life now. The Light is fading, the Darkness getting stronger. This game, this season…the odds of staying alive are dwindling each second.

The only tool left in your kit is a prayer. Your only hope now is a miracle. You don’t really believe in miracles.

You begin to accept that there is little left to do now but to pour salt on your wounds. It’s OK. This is Life. A six-run deficit. A three-game deficit. Let’s play the last plays. Let’s get it done.

Agenda Item #5: Another standup double, another RBI.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

–Rainer Maria Rilke
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

A’s beat Liriano

Bryan Smith has a nice run through some top prospects who pitched last night over at Baseball Analysts. Here’s what he says about Francisco Liriano, whom the A’s beat last night:

Simply put, Liriano was just too hittable yesterday. It did not look like the Francisco I saw at the Futures Game, the point in time in which his tear really took off. Still, there was a smell of dominance in the air, as despite struggles in his 3.2 innings of work, Liriano managed to strike out six hitters. Few pitchers have no-hit stuff (3 good pitches, none under 85 mph) as consistently as Liriano, who even amidst a bad performance showed why he is top dog in a loaded Minnesota minor league system.

Liriano’s “stuff” was indeed impressive. But except for one at-bat against Mark Kotsay, he never really had the A’s fooled: when he got them out, he simply overpowered them. It didn’t look like he had mastered the art of deception yet.

Still, if I were a Twins fan, I’d be excited about him. A pitcher can’t learn to overpower, but he can learn to deceive.

He’s very reminicient of Rich Harden when he first came up. Harden at first relied primarily on overpowering people, and was very inconsistent as a result. If his control was off, he’d struggle, walking people or throwing fastballs down the middle. That’s what happened to Liriano last night.

Harden spent about a year in the majors before he learned to combine his electric stuff with deception. When that clicked for him, Harden become one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he could win even without pinpoint control.

Until he started pulling muscles, that is, but that’s another story.

With pitchers like Harden and Liriano, this seems to be a natural process. You overpower people all the way up to the majors, where the hitters make you make an adjustment. It probably takes pitchers like that a year or two to figure it out.

Unless you’re Felix Hernandez, of course. He might be an exception, although he did get roughed up a bit in his last outing. Still, from what I’ve seen of him, he showed up in the major leagues with both electric stuff and ace-like deception at the age of nineteen. Remarkable.

The Twins have had a rough year, but when Liriano figures it out, and pairs up with Johan Santana, the Twins will be competitive again, I’m sure, just from those two guys alone.

Today, the A’s go for a sweep. I’ll be at the ballpark. Pictures later…

One-And-A-Half Is…

the Oakland Athletics’ deficit in the AL West at the time of this posting.

One-and-a-half is a self-referential Google query. One-and-a-half is waiting for Googlebot to become recursive.

One-and-a-half is a confusing artifact that is difficult to recognise.

One-and-a-half is in the archive just now. One-and-a-half is from The Chronicles of Narnia. One-and-a-half is the oldest document in the National Archives of Scotland and is one of our treasures.

One-and-a-half is wounded. One-and-a-half is always sick and going to the doctor.

One-and-a-half is putting a good face on it, since (if I remember right) the “one” had obviously undergone major modifications and less-than-successful repairs before it was lost for 500 years.

One-and-a-half is now considered too high for all breeds, and one-and-a-quarter is the current requirement for most breeds.

One-and-a-half is the standard spoken-English way of expressing this number, and it is written as “1 1/2”.

1 1/2 is half of three. 1 1/2 is calculated by dividing 3 by 2. 1 1/2 is almost a two. 1 1/2 is the raw, irrational version of “two”.

1 1/2 is not equal or better. 1 1/2 is sometimes meant as a precise measurement or count and sometimes as a vague approximation or rhetorical exaggeration.

1 1/2 is available as a byproduct of energy metabolism.

1 1/2 is a torrent of activity – really a happy kid with a drooly face and big round brown eyes full of mischief. 1 1/2 is not allowed on the new carpet.

1 1/2 is the same as one point five.

One point five is one of those cinematic offerings that is filled with people who are neither angels or devils, and consequently feel all the more genuinely human for being so. One point five is actually the same movie as X-Men with more features on dvd.

One point five is spread over two discs. One point five is Wim Wenders, number two is Fassbinder.

One point five is a ménage-a-trois, and half a sock is “Don’t open the door! Don’t look at me! Don’t look at me!”

One point five is a big deal, right?

One point five is an insignificant event save for the inclusion of a spell checker by default maybe, but it is also a fine-tuned release of a great email client.

One point five is written 1.50, one and one-quarter is written 1.25.

1.50 is a dialectical approach. 1.50 is utilised for teaching, lecturing and tutorials. 1.50 is the same arbitrary scaling factor currently applied to the base risk weights, to give the granularity scaling factor (“GSF”) actually used for the calculation (Basel, 2001, paragraph 457).

1.50 is more in the ball park. 1.50 is not such a bad place to be.

1.50 is a haven for nature lovers, for families who want to get away from it all and for the lovers of history who enjoy exploring the fascinating wartime defences.

1.50 is based at Grimsby. 1.50 is technically in Holm, and the Italian Chapel, the relic of the builders of those marvels, though within the parish, is more associated with its own small island, Lamb Holm (pronounced holm).

1.50 is again evidenced per the purchase price of a second bride.

1.50 is not called and half, it is called half of three.

Half of three is what I call it.

Half of three is probably right. Half of three is VERY new. Half of three is not bad. Half of three is fine. Half of three is acceptable also.

Half of three is fine and dandy for the drivers, but it can be hell for members of the media who are trying to cover the action, or lack thereof.

Half of three is a good-sized dose for me. Half of three is a little bit too much. Half of three is certainly too much — but does not seem way out of line.

Half of three is still ahead of us. Half of three is the end.

 
 
 

Half of three is still too much.

Humbugardy: Haiku Trades for 200

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

 

Yhency Brazoban,
Jeff Weaver, Brandon Weeden…

 

Bravery Haiku Trades Same School “Tools” of Ignorance Literary Baseball Ballpark Franks
Next… Derek Smart Jen Baby Maddux Humma Kavula metfaninalaska
Baby Maddux Sam DC 200 Cliff Corcoran TFD MattPat11
Dan Lucero TFD Joe For The Turnstiles Ryan Wilkins 300
Shaun P Jacob L T J Bob Timmerman Bob Timmerman Shaun P
Rorschach Bob Timmerman Philip Michaels Shaun P Derek Smart Cliff Corcoran

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

A’s Clinch Heavyweight Title

The Oakland Athletics are the winners of the Heavyweight Of The Year title for the 2005 regular season.

The Heavyweight of the Year goes to the team that wins the most title bouts throughout the regular season. The A’s have won 27 bouts, seven more than Toronto, their closest competitor.

The competition treats baseball like boxing, where if you beat the champion, you become the new champion.

Seattle and Toronto, the two last teams with a chance to catch the A’s, were eliminated yesterday when the Mariners lost to Texas. Toronto will have no more title bouts, while Seattle can have at most six, not enough to catch the A’s.

Another prize goes to the winner of the crown after the last day of the regular season. Six teams were eliminated from that competition yesterday, as a result of Seattle’s loss: the Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, and Twins. All National League teams were eliminated earlier this summer.

For current standings, and possible bouts remaining in the season, look at the sidebar.

Congratulations to the A’s!

Humbugardy: Literary Baseball for 500

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

 

Shakespeare says nothing of their arms, but in two different plays, he mentions that they “have ears”

This was a Double Up round. Wagers were made here.

Update: Derek Smart was the only person to get the correct question: What are pitchers? He bet 100, so he won 200 points.

 

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 TFD MattPat11
Dan Lucero TFD Joe For The Turnstiles Ryan Wilkins 300
Shaun P Jacob L T J Bob Timmerman Bob Timmerman Shaun P
Rorschach Bob Timmerman Philip Michaels Shaun P Derek Smart Cliff Corcoran

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

Danny The Wabbit Woses To Wed Sox

I witnessed something truly sublime yesterday.

sublime. adjective.

  • Of high spiritual, moral, or intellectual worth.
  • Impressive; Inspiring awe, usually because of elevated quality or transcendent excellence
  • Not to be excelled; supreme.

I am not a particularly religious person. I’m a confirmed Lutheran, but I don’t attend church anymore. I don’t believe the universe operates on willpower. Like Jon Carroll, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason.

And yet I experience moments that feel religious. These moments usually involve something sublime, something heavenly, when you know that this is as good as it gets.

It’s a weird paradox. One part of my brain rejects the conventional idea of God, yet another part knows God. Perhaps this will be explained one day by neurotheology or maybe neurogastroenterotheology. Until that happens, I’ll just have to live with the mystery.

* * *

A couple weeks ago, I saw a vanity license plate that read “VOGON.” Oh no! Is it an omen? Is the Destructor Fleet on its way? Are we about to be subject to some really bad poetry? I started to panic.

Don’t Panic!

There’s an art to vanity plates. There are good ones and bad ones, and usually we can tell the difference. What makes a good vanity plate? I’m not sure. What makes any artwork great? The very best vanity plates are clever and funny and say something about both the owner and the vehicle. I remember thinking that VOGON was a pretty good, but not great. VOGON belongs on a Hummer or a monster truck or something. But this one was on a luxury SUV. It ruined the effect. The owner was no Vogon.

* * *

Alas, my sublime experience yesterday did not happen during the A’s-Red Sox game. The A’s suffered their second straight late-inning loss; the Angels got their second straight late-inning victory, and the A’s fell 2 games out.

Two games out is OK. With four games left against Anaheim, a 3-1 series victory gets them tied. Until they fall three games out…

Don’t Panic!

These two losses didn’t really bother me. They were two well-played games, where the balls just didn’t bounce the A’s way.

Danny the Rabbit pitched a good game, but suffered the Wrath of Manny, who drove in the winning run for the second straight day.

The A’s don’t have a Manny, or a Papi, or an ARod, or a Vlad. Having a player like that is like a tennis player having a big serve. Every now and then, they get you some free points. The A’s have to get all their points the hard way.

* * *

After the game, I loaded up the kids in the car, and we headed out to dinner at a local restaurant. As I signed my credit card receipt, I had a strange urge to write a note on the napkin, and leave it for the waitress. I wrote this:

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

* * *

As we got in the car to drive home, I noticed a Volkswagen Rabbit convertible had parked in the space opposite mine. It had a vanity plate.

WASCALY

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfection of an art form. The ultimate license plate. It doesn’t get any better than that. Sublime.

Vogon Baseball Poetry

A baseball owner visits an executive, and says, “We’re a small-market baseball team, and we’d like you to be our new GM.”

The executive says, “Sorry, I don’t do small markets. I’d just be swimming upstream.”

The owner says, “But our ballpark is really a gem.”

The executive says, “Okay, then, sing to me: how’s your team?”

The owner says:

Oh budded bellbottoms,
Thy pitchertations are to me
As gobbled gubiczotchlets
On a lowery buck
That runelvysly goeth hocking hocking hocking
Hocking out its long brown hubers
Into a rancid howell chip!
Now thou must suck the stemlid guiel
Slurping sweenely up the greinkeloogies
And dip living gotays
Down thy snotted sisco stairs
While certain lima leoslime
Beneath the bayless brett berroan
Gloop doth dare make ewing not teahendrones.
Go camp and carrascolate under my snyde,
Amborixing my dougals
With slimy slimy blancowoodles,
Or else I shall slide thy gobblewarts over my burgoscruncheon
See if I don’t.

The owner looks at the executive and says, “That’s what we’ve got. Aren’t you enthralled?”

The executive sits silently, then finally says, “That’s quite a team. What are you called?”

The owner says, “The Royals!”

The 11th Stupid Utopia

This recent article entitled The Ten Stupidest Utopias! brought back memories. If the author had read the final paper I wrote in my Utopian Fiction class at UC Berkeley back in 1987, I’m sure my utopia would have easily cracked the top 10.

The final exam for the class was to write our own utopian (or dystopian) short story. Mine involved a global thermonuclear war breaking out during a Super Bowl. The only human survivors of the war were 80,000 football fans watching the game inside a concrete domed stadium.

The civilization that emerged from this catastrophe used the NFL as its cultural foundation and economic model. Everybody lived in domed cities (to keep the radiation out), cities were organized into divisions, and divisions were assigned industries in which they would compete economically. Only the NFC East cities would make, say, beer, while only the AFC West cities would make, for example, clothing.

Any profits the cities earned were invested in the football team. The more efficient your economy, the better your football team. What better economic incentive is there than that?

Now, that’s clearly a stupider utopia than Plato’s Republic, or William Gibson’s Neuromancer, wouldn’t you say?

I thought about using baseball as a model instead, but the sex and violence of football just makes for a better story.

I dug around in my old papers, and tried to find the story. I found my first draft, but not my final paper. Dang. Where did I put it? I gotta do some cleaning up around here. My house is dystopianly disorganized.

Humbugardy: Double Up!

We won’t call it a “Daily Double”, because it isn’t really daily. But it’s time to double up (or more!), if you can.

Here’s how it works:

  • The category is “Literary Baseball for 500”.
  • Everybody who is on the board is eligible to bet any amount they have, or up to 500 points, whichever is greater.
  • Place your bets in the comments below. I will close betting at 11pm PT tonight. If you don’t bet, I’ll assume your bet is zero.
  • Shaun P will choose the time and day that I will post the answer. It can be any time of his choice, Saturday through Monday, subject to negotiation if I have a schedule conflict.
  • At the exact time Shaun P chooses, I will post the answer, with comments closed. You then have ten minutes to email me your question, at scorebard AT yahoo Dot com.
  • The first correct email I receive will win double their bet. Any subsequent correct emails will win their exact bet. Otherwise, you lose your exact bet.

A’s All Square; Macha Irregular Polygon

A’s win; Angels lose; the AL West is all square.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is this quote from Macha in the SF Chronicle about bringing in Huston Street with a four-run lead (emphasis mine):

“He had two days off and I’m not playing a statistical game right now,” Macha said. “There’s only one statistic and that’s to win the game. You’ve got to go with your best guy, and for me, tonight, that’s a save situation.”

I wasn’t so much bothered by bringing in Street; if a runner gets on, he’s gonna have to get up in the pen anyway. What bothers me is that I was right about Macha yesterday when I said this:

Macha is choking. He’s changing his managing style, just because it’s September. Perhaps we should call him Maucha.

The A’s are where they are today because they play a statistical game. Now Macha has declared that he’s suddenly throwing statistics out the window, and he’s going to manage however the hell he feels like, logic be damned. All of a sudden, the A’s have Dusty Baker in the dugout.

Worked great in Cleveland, dude. Way to improve our odds of winning.

Are you watching, Pittsburgh? This is the real Ken Macha, giving the middle finger to sabermetrics when it counts the most. Macha must know he’s outta here. He must be figuring, this could be my last shot, so if we’re gonna lose this time, we’re gonna lose my way.

*Shudder…*