...But from this day every day will be Boxing Day
It's a fight to the finish
Let there be no doubt
As the seconds turn into minutes
I can count you out --Elvis Costello, TKO (Boxing Day)
If you haven't noticed, I have a fun little thing on my sidebar called "MLB Heavyweight Champion". I'm keeping track of the baseball championship as if it were boxing: if you defeat the champion, you become the champion.
I'll also keep track of their records in title bouts, and the team that wins the most title bouts at the end of the year shall be deemed the Heavyweight of the Year.
Tonight, the A's get their first crack at the title, as they take on the current MLB Heavyweight Champs, the Toronto Blue Jays. (The champs this year so far: Red Sox, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays.)
Seeing the A's go into their first home series with Saarloos, Haren and Blanton as the scheduled starters doesn't fill me with the warm fuzzies about their immediate title chances. That's probably just a matter of unfamiliarity, however. I certainly wouldn't count them out.
Joe Sheehan said in a premium Baseball Prospectus article today that in trading Hudson and Mulder, the A's "traded perceived value for actual value, and in doing so, made their team better in the short term and in the long term."
I think he's probably right, but I'll put it another way. The A's traded Warm Fuzzies in exchange for Hope.
With the exception of Barry Zito, the pitching thus far has been fabulous. The non-Zito starters have yielded just 4 runs in 22 1/3 IP. And while so many other bullpens around major league baseball seem to have imploded during the first week of play, the A's pen has allowed just one run in 20 1/3 IP.
With results like that, Harden and Haren and Saarloos and Blanton certainly give me hope. The bullpen gives me hope. But hope is an instant emotion; if you're looking for it, it takes only seconds to minutes to find it.
Mulder and Hudson were Warm Fuzzies. No rookie can provide it. It requires turning weeks of results like these into months, and months into years.
Warm Fuzzies linger, far beyond the source of the warmth. You don't mind cleaning up on December 26th, because December 25th was so much fun. You can milk it for a week or two, but eventually, you have to return to the realities of daily life.
I still get warm fuzzies from my Barry Zito package, but the hope I get from him is fading with each bad result. Hudson and Mulder provided a lot of joy in Oakland, but it couldn't last forever, either. You have to let the old fuzzies go, and start making new ones.
The calendar turns. Tonight, a new year, a new era, begins in Oakland.