“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): Jarrod Parker, the A’s, and how baseball isn’t fair

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Now, the Athletics.

Baseball is an unfair game. It’s a cruel game.

It’s financial structure is cruel: the biggest markets still have major advantages, both in exposure and in resources.

It’s success/failure ratio is cruel: the best hitters in the world are still failing to put a ball in play over half the time, and it’s best pitchers can still be expected to give up runs every and any time they were to pitch nine innings.

And it’s not fair to people like Jarrod Parker.

Jarrod Parker was- is a pitcher. Could have been a good one. May end up still being one. But it’s doubtful.

Because baseball isn’t fair, and Jarrod Parker is now facing his third Tommy John surgery. Not many people come back from that. As in… two people have.

It’s not because of anything wrong that Parker did. It just happened, the result of the human arm not being made to throw a spherical object that fast.

As Commissioner Giamatti once said: It breaks your heart. It’s designed to break your heart.

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2015): A’s eras, ranked

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, I rank the three eras of Athletics history- Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Oakland.

The A’s are cool because they have kept their identity despite moving twice. I mean, yeah, the Braves have done it too and have the bonus of being the spiritual successor to the 1869-70 Cincinnati Red Stockings (many of the members of that team moved to Boston and formed the nucleus of the the Boston Red Stockings), but they haven’t always been the Braves. The Athletics have always been the Athletics.

So, today, I’m ranking the variation incarnations of them:

3. Kansas City Athletics (1955-1967)

Kind of a transitional piece between Philly and Oakland, but there were notable things. For the first few years, for example, the Athletics, who were owned and run by a close associate (Arnold Johnson) of the Yankees ownership of the time, traded Roger Maris, Bobby Shantz, Clete Boyer, Ralph Terry, Hector Lopez and Art Ditmar to the Bronx Bombers, leading to Hank Greenberg (a GM at the time) to say that the Yankees had a farm team playing in the American League.

After Johnson died, Charlie Finley took over. Now, nobody has ever matched Bill Veeck for wacky ownership, but Charlie O. came close. He bought a bus, pointed it towards New York, then burned it to symbolically show that the A’s would no longer be a farm club. He made uniforms more colorful. He made a mule the mascot. He built a shallower temporary fence to mock the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Hilarious.

Still, nowhere near as successful or long as the stints in Philadelphia and Oakland.

2. Philadelphia Athletics (1901-1954)

Yes, the Philadelphia A’s had more World Series titles and AL pennants than Oakland has had, and they were the club of Connie Mack, young Jimmie Foxx and young Lefty Grove, but what’s often forgotten is that when the Athletics weren’t good, they were really, really bad. They finished last 18 times while they were in Philadelphia. The only reason Connie Mack was never fired was because he owned the team. Three times, Athletics teams in Philadelphia had winning percentages below .300. Eight of the ten and 13 of the 15 worst seasons in A’s history came in Philadelphia.

Ugh.

1. Oakland Athletics (1968-Present)

The Oakland Athletics have been many things over the years. But they have almost never been boring. They have always had SOMETHING that demanded people pay attention to them. The A’s of the 70s were a dynasty. The A’s of the 80s and 90s brought forth the Bash Brothers. And the A’s of the aughts and the 2010s have had the whole Moneyball mystique about them.

Also, no Oakland team has had a sub-.300 winning percentage, so advantage Oakland.

Next time: Cleveland

Do you want to be a racing mascot? Well… GOOD NEWS!

There is good news for those of you who aim to win athletic glory while wearing a big-headed mascot uniform: the Oakland Athletics are hiring for just such a position! Yes, you can be a racing mascot, defeating your foes and amusing the masses while in a caricature version of somebody like Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson or Dennis Eckersley. Wait… no Connie Mack? No Jimmie Foxx? No Reggie Jackson?

Jeez, Athletics, are you even TRYING in this racing mascot thing? Oh well, I guess I’ll have to make due. Let’s see what this requires….

• Prior experience in promotions, performing in costume and customer service preferred.

Well, two out of three isn’t too bad, although one of those two I wasn’t a professi-… wait… preferred? Ha! That means it isn’t required! I’m good!

• Must be comfortable performing and interacting with fans in front of large crowds and on camera.

Full disclosure: When I was like eight, I jumped on top of a dugout and danced on it. Everybody thought it was hilarious except for my parents and the security guards. Tough crowd. So… I’m good!

• Must be reliable, punctual, courteous, have good listening skills and ability to multi-task.

Standard stuff, I’m good!

• Must have high energy, enthusiasm and excitement to promote the A’s brand.

I wrote an article on how the A’s brand should survive even if they move to San Jose! That’s total promotion and excitement about the brand! I’m good!

• Must have strong ability to work well with all employees in a team environment.

Okay, this may be a problem, because I think of myself as something of a method actor. If I’m in the costume, I am the costume. So, it’s entirely possible that I’d start referring to myself in the third person or something, which would be weird. Still, I’m sure I’d be able to manage it, so I’m good!

• Must have ability to run a minimum of 250 yards in a 50 pound costume. Running skills will be tested.

It wouldn’t be graceful at all, but I’d probably be able to handle it. So I’m good!

• Must have ability to perform and entertain while wearing a 50 pound costume for extended periods of time.

See above.

• Must be able to lift and carry items up to 50lbs.

Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, hopefully.

• Must be available to work during all A’s home games and outside appearances as needed, including days, nights, weekends and holidays, throughout the 2015 baseball season.

Hey, if they are willing to get me to Oakland, I’m willing to…

• Must have reliable transportation and live in or close to the Oakland area.

CRAP.

 

Well, maybe one day I shall win glory as a racing mascot. Maybe one day….

 

 

 

 

MISTAKES OF 2013: The Stupid Hat-In-The-Scanner Trick

Not everything I did on the Continuum was good. Some of it was bad. For example, this, uhm, “post” from August 9.

I don’t know why, exactly, I have an Athletics cap, but I decided to put it in a scanner. This is what it looked like:

AthleticsCapScanned

(NOW LET’S FORGET THIS EVER HAPPENED, OKAY?)

Putting things in perspective

During the Athletics-Rangers game yesterday, I saw somebody (one of the Oakland reporters) retweet this:

Stephanee Neshek is the wife of Pat Neshek. Pat Neshek is a right-handed reliever for the Oakland Athletics, notable for his rather quirky delivery. He came up through the Twins system, and he’s one of the most fan-friendly guys in baseball. He had (and still has, although it isn’t updated much anymore) a website that is about his love of autograph collecting, with an address for fans who want to trade signed cards or if anybody had anything to be signed. During one of his stints in Rochester, after he had lost his spot in the Twins’ bullpen following Tommy John surgery, he brought his dog to the ballpark on a “Barks in the Park” day and played toss with the dog for the “first pitch”. For some reason that stuck with me: he’d lost his spot in the big leagues, he’d gone through Tommy John surgery, and he was stuck in AAA four years after he had been seemingly called up for good. And yet he was good-natured enough to bring his dog to the ballpark as part of a promotion.

Neshek found his way back to the majors, first with San Diego, and then this season in Oakland. And now it looked like he was going to have the best day of his life: his team was about to pull off a miracle final-week comeback to win the AL West, and he was becoming a father for the first time.

Which is why it was sad to see this in my Twitter feed this morning:

Suddenly, there was a realization everything that had happened yesterday, from the results on the field, to Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown, to even the presidential debates, were just so trivial. It was the best day of Pat Neshek’s life, and it turned into what was probably his worst.

So keep that in your thoughts when you think you are having a bad day. And keep the Nesheks in your thoughts as they go through this horrible tragedy.

Party like an Aught-Star: Ben Sheets and the Oakland Athletics

Ben Sheets is now 2-0. The Athletics have beat the Yankees three straight to open their series. Although I can’t be sure, I’m going to have to guess that I’ll be playing a Nintendo Gamecube tomorrow, as soon as I finish the last chapter of the latest Harry Potter book.

Yes, it is true, we have seemingly done a time-warp into the first decade of the 21st century. The Aughts, as they are sometimes called, since saying “The 2000s” is kind of unclear as to whether you are talking about the decade or the century.

The Aughts were good to the Oakland Athletics and to Ben Sheets, but they had fallen on hard times by the 2010s. Now, however, they seem to be turning things around.

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