My first thought, as Vladimir Guerrero's blast cleared the fence in center field to give the Angels a 5-0 lead in Sunday's final home game for the A's was, "Well, on the bright side, at least we're giving our playoff opponents a false sense of optimism."
Later, as the Angels plated a few more runners while the A's managed to eek out a solitary run from a leadoff triple, my thought was, "Hold on there, bub... who said we're even making the playoffs?"
The Optimistic View: The A's were facing a worthy dangerous foe with its back to the wall these past two days. While it would have been nice to clinch at home, it's not as if these were do-or-die games for the A's; they were for Anaheim, and the Angels responded accordingly.
The Pessimistic View: It may not have been a do-or-die game, but the A's sure played like it was, in that they failed to win. When was the last time the A's were able to put away an opponent -- the Reagan years? Maybe this team ought to realize that its track record in games where it can put the nail in the coffin of a hated opponent doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
The Optimistic View: John Lackey and Ervin Santana are not exactly chopped replacement-level pitchers. These are quality starters who flat-out pitched great games. Tip your hat to them, and try again Monday in Seattle.
The Pessimistic View: What kind of pitchers do you think the A's will be facing in the playoffs? You think Detroit's going to all of sudden bench Kenny Rogers or Justin Verlander in favor of surprise mystery guest Sidney Ponson? At some point, the A's bats need to come up big, even against quality starters who are making great pitches. Especially against those guys.
The Optimistic View: All we have to do is win the three-game series against Seattle, and this thing is all wrapped up, no matter what the Angels do. And in case you've forgotten, we're 15-1 against the Mariners this year.
The Pessimistic View: Again with Seattle. Are they receiving some sort of at-large bid into the post-season that I'm not aware of?
The Optimistic View: The baseball season is a 162-game grind. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You can't get too wrapped up in a single game.
The Pessimistic View: If you don't be quiet, I'm going to stab you in the eye with this spork.
The Optimistic View: ...
The Pessimistic View: Much better.
Which side of the divide I fall on varies from hour to hour.
This is about the time that Ken would post a fantastic photo or two of the day's events. I'll follow suit after the jump, though I warn you, Ken has much better seats than I do as well as a much better camera.
I can't tell you the specifics of the game situation as this shot was taken, but I'm absolutely certain that the A's are about to do something unspeakably awful.
One other note from today's game, which I'll hide down here because even I am getting tired of my one man crusade against The Wave. ("Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: The Man Who Waved Goodbye -- The Philip Michaels Story, starring David Foley as Philip Michaels, Carrot Top as Krazy George, and Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of the Krazy Krab of Candlestick. This film has not yet been rated.") Right after the Guerrero home-run, some yay-hoo in the second deck Outfield Plaza seats tried to start The Wave. I am not usually inclined to hurl invective at other fans for the way they choose to support the home team, but when that apparently involves cheering wildly after a crushing home run by the opposition, I'm willing to make an exception. Later, the yay-hoo decided to try and start The Wave again -- this time after Brad Halsey came into the game and issued consecutive walks.
At that point, I became convinced that the young man was actually doing this on purpose -- that he was engaging in a form of performance art to point out the absurdity of The Wave. "If I can make A's fans cheer as horrible things are happening to their team on the field," he doubtlessly reasoned, "it will be a powerful statement against The Wave and a warning of the power of the group dynamic."
At least, that's what I'm going to tell myself, just so that I don't have to face the fact that someone dumb enough to lead The Wave immediately after a Vladimir Guerrero home-run probably is licensed to operate an automobile on the same roads I travel.
For your handy reference, here are times when it is especially inappropriate to start The Wave:
Just after your opponent has taken a lead of 5 or more runs;
When baseball historians start to mention your team and the 1964 Phillies in the same breath;
When you miss your second opportunity in as many days to clinch a playoff berth in front of the home fans;
At the state funeral of a particularly beloved leader; and