Tag Archives: Oakland Athletics

Tigers 3, Athletics 1

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Tigers 3, Athletics 1

It’s Justin Verlander Day!

I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that Justin Verlander is my favorite player outside of the Twins.  He’s just so consistently dominating — he’ll hit 100 MPH in the 8th or 9th inning like it’s no big deal.  So when I noted that he was going to be pitching against the A’s, I e-mailed my friend Suzanne and invited her to join me at the game.  (And even if she had said no, I’d have gone anyway.)

Verlander didn’t disappoint even my exceedingly high expectations.  The A’s didn’t get a hit until the 4th inning.  They got a second hit in the 5th, which happened to be a solo homerun by Seth Smith, but other than that, Verlander was lights out for 7 innings.  (And that homerun didn’t hurt as the Tigers had already scored 2 runs, but I didn’t go to watch the Tigers offense.  Especially since my former second favorite Tiger, Brandon Inge, is now an A.)

When he didn’t come out for the 8th, I was a little confused, because normally he doesn’t let things like pitch counts get in his way — it turns out he had a callous on his hand that had cracked open and started bleeding during the 7th and the trainer decided he should be done.  I will note that the 7th inning was the only inning he didn’t get a strikeout… probably the bleeding thumb.

This season I’ve been trying to pick 10 or so diverse pictures to illustrate whichever game I was at.  In honor of Justin Verlander, this time I picked 13 pictures of JV’s delivery, taken with burst mode, so you can watch him pitch in slow motion over and over again.

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Mariners 8, Athletics 7

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Mariners 8, Athletics 7

I volunteered to help run a curling clinic this afternoon, and because I was on that side of the Bay anyway, when it was over I headed over to O.co Coliseum (possibly the most terrible stadium name ever) to catch the second home game of the Oakland A’s season… because in Oakland, the seats are always cheap and plentiful.  (Today: $10 from a scalper for tickets that are $16 face.)

And why are A’s tickets so cheap?  Well, because they tend to trade away players once they start to get expensive (see awesome jersey for Player To Be Named Later I spotted while leaving the game) and because the team’s not that good.  Which they mostly proved by going down 7-0 after the top of the 4th inning.

But then, a funny thing happened… those scrappy little Moneyball players started to crawl their way back.  First with a manufactured sac fly run in the bottom of the 4th and then a solo shot from Jemile Weeks in the bottom of the 5th.  (Weeks is really fun to watch by the way… some big pocketed team will probably snatch him up in a few years, sadly.)  Then they scored two in the 6th off a Kurt Suzuki double that nearly cleared the wall in left and got every one cheering, but they were still down 8-4.  In the 7th Yoenis Cespedes launched a three run bomb to deep center to bring the A’s within one and the crowd — all half-dozen or so that were left — went nuts.  I briefly thought about how amazing it would be if the A’s could actually come back and win…

… but they didn’t.  Of course they didn’t.  The only remaining highlight after the Cespedes homerun was the bunch of balloons that first floated out of the stadium at the end of the 7th and then apparently lost buoyancy as they came back into view in the 9th.  They floated around awhile, nearly landing in center field prompting an usher to run out and jump in the air manically trying to grab them.  Eventually they floated over to the left field seats where another usher retrieved them.  And so ended the balloon drama… and more or less the game.

Giants 4, Athletics 2

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Giants 4, Athletics 2

And so it begins…

Okay, not actually the regular season yet, but the pre-season Bay Bridge Exhibition series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics got me out to the ballpark for the first time this year.  I wasn’t sure if I was rooting for the A’s or the Giants, but I wore an A’s jersey that was a free giveaway from last season, and I’m kind of an American League gal, so if forced, I guess I was leaning A’s.  On other hand, I actually live in San Francisco so…

Keeping score at a spring training game in a National League (i.e. no DH) park is quite a challenge.  I utilized my new-ish smart phone more than once to keep track of all the crazy substitutions.  I also used it to tweet in the middle of the game… yeah, I’m kind of ashamed of myself.

The game itself was pretty exciting.  Madison Bumgarner was much more solid than the last time I saw him pitch for the Giants when he gave up 8 straight hits to the Twins to start the game.  However, in the third he gave up a single to Jemile Weeks, followed immediately by a homerun to Eric Sogard to put the A’s up 2-0.  Sogard was an early substitute for Cliff “ought to play cricket” Pennington.  Quick show, Pennington! (That’s for you, you-know-who-you-are.)

It looked for awhile like the underdog A’s might pull it off against the much more beloved Giants, but then Jordan Norberto gave up a solo homerun to Melky Cabrera in the 6th to bring the Giants within one.  A disastrous outing by Fautino DeLosSantos in the seventh led to three Giants runs on one hit: a walk to Ryan Theriot, a hit-by-pitch to Nate Schierholtz, an error by Josh Donaldson at third that allowed Theriot to score, a fielders choice by Angel Pagan that scored Schierholtz, and finally a solid single by Melky Cabrera to score Emmanuel Burriss.

Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson came out in the 9th with three quick strikeouts to get the save and end the game.  Within about five minutes, seagulls descended out of nowhere onto the stands, eating all the leftover food and beer.  I have no idea where they came from or why they didn’t show up earlier.  I took a bunch of pictures, including one of the seagulls… they’re all below.  Baseball — it’s back!

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Baseball Photography

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Last fall before I went to Alaska, I bought myself a fancy new camera — not a DSLR, but a fancier model than my old point and shoot that fit in my pocket.  (It’s a Panasonic DMC-FZ35 if that means anything to you.)  It has an 18x zoom and a burst mode.  These two features combined mean that it’s excellent for taking pictures at baseball games.  Thus, I have literally thousands of pictures from all the games I’ve gone to this year — and this doesn’t even count all the pictures I took with my old camera after the new one was accidentally left back in Minnesota.  Most of the pictures are pretty dull and redundant — batters taking pitches or swinging and missing.  However, there is the occasional treasure.

And so, as an excuse to blog even though the baseball season is over, here are my 10 favorite pictures from various baseball games I went to this season.  (Also, I figured out I can embed slideshows, so this seemed like a good first slideshow.)

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Moneyball

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Aaron Sorkin, easily my favorite screenwriter, helped write a movie featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite actors, about using math to make a baseball team better.  Heck, yes, I saw it the day it came out.

First things first, no it is not 100% accurate.  Jeremy Giambi’s story is flat out wrong (he wasn’t new to the team in 2002).  The movie also completely ignores the fact that part of the reason the A’s did so well in 2002 was that they had the league MVP, Miguel Tejada, and the Cy Young award winner, Barry Zito.  If you don’t blink, you’ll see Tejada represented in the movie very briefly.  Try as I might (and maybe I blinked), I didn’t see a single mention of Zito.  It also credits the Red Sox 2004 World Series win to moneyball techniques, ignoring the fact that they were also helped by a pretty big payroll.  So, nevermind about accuracy.  As Brad Pitt as Billy Bean says near the end of the movie, “It’s hard not to romanticize baseball.”  And that’s what this movie is… a romanticized view of the 2002 Oakland A’s.  Accept that, and it’s a great flick.

There’s a classic Sorkinesque scene in the middle in which Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are trying to trade for a Cleveland reliever (Ricardo Rincon).  It’s not quite as good as a similarly styled scene in Charlie Wilson’s War where Tom Hanks alternates between conversations in rapid succession, but Brad Pitt’s alternating conversations over the phone is still pretty funny.  The other great Sorkin-esque scene happens between Billy Bean and his ex-wife’s husband, a non-baseball fan who tries to pretend that he knows what’s going on with the A’s.

There are also some great baseball scenes surrounding the A’s record breaking 20 game win streak.  I may possibly have teared up a little, but I am a sap when it comes to dramatic baseball scenes.  I was pretty sure I knew how long the streak lasted, but for a brief second I thought I might be wrong and I got wrapped up in the drama.  Also, the mass of A’s fans in the theater were cheering.  It was an emotional moment… shut up, and stop laughing at me.

But really, the best part of this movie?  It is finally the antidote to Little Big League.

Let me explain… Little Big League remains the only movie made about the Twins.  It’s not that great of a movie, and it came out at the same time as a nearly identical movie about the Cubs (Rookie of the Year), but it was about the Twins so of course I saw it many times growing up.  I even knew a few people who were in crowd scenes.  But unlike every other baseball comedy, the Twins lose at the end of the movie.  It’s not a movie for Twins fans; it’s a movie for Mariners fans… particularly fans of Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. who are featured in the final scenes.

And so it is with Moneyball.  In the real world of 2002, the A’s lost the division series to the Twins in five games.  In the movie… same thing!  So, while the theater full of A’s fans was feeling down in the dumps when a very skinny “Eddie Guardado” pitched the final out, caught by “Corey Koskie,” I was kind of excited.  In fact, part of me wanted to clap or cheer or something… the Twins won in the post season!  And that right there made a great movie into one that will probably wind up being one of my all time favorites.

Who cares if it doesn’t get everything right?

Tigers 3, Athletics 0

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Oh, Justin Verlander, I don’t care if my sister mocks me for cheering for the Tigers, you are a stud.  Headed out to Oakland again this morning to see the A’s host the Tigers once again, but this time with Justin Verlander, a lock for the AL Cy Young and in the running for MVP, taking the mound for Detroit with 23 wins already under his belt.  Unfortunately, as mentioned previously, the good camera was left behind in Minnesota.  So instead of Verlander at 22x zoom from my seat, I give you Verlander at 3x zoom.  As you might expect, it’s not as clear… I kind of miss my good camera.

Justin Verlander pitching

Justin Verlander pitches another strike. (Maybe... I have no idea which of the 116 pitches this was.)

On the mound for Oakland was Guillermo Moscoso, who I last saw beating the Twins on July 30.  Surprisingly enough, it was actually Moscoso who had the no-hitter going through five innings and had the most strikeouts — 8 Ks for Guillermo to Justin’s 6.  But let’s be serious… I didn’t go to see Moscoso get a no-no (though it would have been cool).  I went to see Verlander get his 24th win.  And once Austin Jackson broke up the no-hit bid in the top of the 6th with a solo homerun, that was all Justin needed.  Miguel Cabrera almost hit another homerun against Moscoso at the end of the 6th, but it went just foul and he flew out to right on the next pitch instead.  The Tigers scored a second run in the 8th and a third in the 9th, but it really didn’t matter.

Thanks to a double play started by Delmon Young, of all people, and a runner caught stealing, Verlander faced the minimum number of batters through three.  (Moscoso, despite the no-no bid, actually ruined the minimum batters thing earlier by giving up a walk in the 2nd.)  He gave up a single to Coco Crisp in the 4th to ruin that streak, but the A’s didn’t build on it.  In fact, the A’s never built on anything — no Oakland runner ever got past first base.  (Insert joke here about the A’s playing like they were at a junior high dance.)  After 116 pitches, Verlander had a three-hit shut out going after 8 innings of work.  Jose Valverde, who’s actually kind of a punk (see, I’m not entirely a Tigers fan), came in with a 1-2-3 9th for the save and just like that, win number 24 was in the book.