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Game 1 Summary: Crowned by the King
2007-04-03 09:36
by Philip Michaels

So my plan was to do these post-game summaries for as many games as I could until both you and I became bored with the format for a couple of reasons:

  1. I already do a modest summary for the online calendar I put together, so this is merely expanding the scope of an existing to-do.
  2. They do something vaguely similar to what I have in mind over at Bronx Banter, and what's the point of being part of the mighty Toaster family if not to steal from your betters?
  3. I have to find some reason to justify the obscene amount of games I watch over the course of the season, and this seems as good a one as any. "But honey, I can't turn off this otherwise meaningless A's-Royals game -- a nation awaits my pithy summary."

So that was the plan. Then life intruded in the form of work obligations. (Why, Steve Jobs, must you choose Opening Day to make sweeping pronouncements about DRM-free music. It is bad enough that you give your Macworld Expo keynote on the day that the Hall of Fame class is announced -- don't take opening day away from me too.) Anyhow, I came up with a simple enough workaround -- TiVo the game, watch it later, and then threaten co-workers and loved ones with sever looks and stony silences if they divulged so much as a detail about the game. It was nip-and-tuck for awhile -- one colleague IM'ed me to ask what the deal was with Bobby Crosby; having reviewed the game footage I think I've managed to pinpoint what prompted that question -- but I managed to make through my working day without any spoilage. That's when I made the mistake of checking the newswire for any last second stories of interest and saw the headline:

"A's suffer Opening Day loss"

Well, crud.

So I'm still doing a game summary, using a combination of Ken's live blog and the judicious use of the fast-forward button on the TiVo remote to get to the critical points in the contest. But we're off to an inauspicious start, and I'm referring to this personal project as much as I am Oakland's season.

Game One: Mariners 4, A's 0

Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- Felix Hernandez (1-0) LP -- D. Haren

Went Deep: Sexson (1, off Haren in the sixth)

Your Gordon Biersch Marzen Star of the Game: Felix Hernandez, for pitching eight stellar innings, in which he made the Oakland batters look like they would have had a more productive day sight-seeing at the Pike Place Market. You are doing very well for yourself when your strikeout total (12) doubles the number of base-runners you allow (six -- three hits, two walks, and an error letting Jason Kendall reach), you're doing all right for yourself.*

The Turning Point: A pessimist would say the minute the A's took the field to see Hernandez on the mound instead of, say, Joel Pinero or Gil Meche or whatever else has passed for pitching in Seattle since 2003. But honestly, the game turned in the bottom of the sixth when Bobby Crosby muffed a toss from Dan Haren to turn a probable inning-ending double play into a bases loaded, one-out situation. Raul Ibanez plated Ichiro by flying out two pitches later and then Sexson really made the error hurt with a three-run homer. I'm not a big fan of what-iffing things, but it's pretty clear that if Crosby makes a routine catch, the A's are more than likely out of the inning with no harm done.

Odds and Ends of Interest to Me: Two A's made their Major League debuts -- Travis Buck went 1 for 3, with his sixth inning double posing Oakland's biggest scoring threat and my main man Jay Marshall came in to retire Ibanez to end the eighth.

The A's last won a season opener in 2004 when Eric Byrnes doubled home Erubiel Durazo and Crosby in the eighth for a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Texas.

This is also the first time since 2004 that Bobby Crosby hasn't left an opening day game with an injury. So there's that.

Putting Lipstick on the Pig: The link headline for the game recap in the "A's Update" section of the A's home page is "Haren brilliant in opening loss to the M's." He was all right, solid even. You could argue that he deserved to win. He certainly wasn't to blame for the loss. But brilliant on a day when the guy on the mound for the other team puts down 12 batters? C'mon. What's the headline over on Seattle's Web site: "Hernandez even more brilliant in opening win?" Even TASS knew when it was laying things on pretty thick about the wheat crop.

Dreaded Larry Davis Sighting: Visions of the A's trainer sprinting on to the field to tend to some fallen Oaklander have become a common sight in recent years. So why not get that nightmare vision out of the way early? In the words of the Chronicle's game recap:

While throwing the second pitch to his final batter, Kenji Johjima, Haren slipped, then he did a half-hop on the front of the mound to regain his balance. Geren and A's trainer Larry Davis came out to check on the right-hander, but he declared himself fine after a practice pitch.

"My plant leg gave out and I came down on my right leg," Haren said. "I thought my hip flexor tweaked and I kind of overreacted, got a little nervous that I'd hurt something. But I got it iced and it's OK."

The A's certainly hope so. First baseman Dan Johnson said he had tweaked his hip flexor one week earlier -- and he now might miss three months with torn hip cartilage.

You know... just in case you weren't unsettled by the same feeling of impending doom that accompanies me every April through October.

All in All: There are two schools of thought as how to approach a loss like this. The first is to panic about the A's prospects for 2007, lashing out at whomever you consider responsible for Oakland's dimming fortunes -- Bobby Crosby, Billy Beane, Kaiser Permanente, whomever -- and posting ridiculous knee-jerk questions on your weblog like "Are the A's better off without Crosby?"

The other approach is a more reasoned one -- this is one game out of 162. In the course of a regular season, there will be times when you face a phenomenal pitcher who logs an outstanding performance -- not a whole hell of a lot you can do about it, except take the L and plan your fearsome vengeance for the next game.

Me, I'm currently in the second camp, though reading about Dan Haren's tender hip is not making the morning coffee go down any smoother.

* So what's with this Gordon Biersch business? It's a long story, tediously told, so I'll give you the abridged version. When I keep score of a game, I always put a star next to the player who I feel contributed most to the outcome, whether it's an Athletic or one of the villains. Because I'm an extra brand of nerdy, I usually turn to the person I'm attending the game with and announce, "So and so is the X Star of the Game," where X is the name of the frosty beverage I've been enjoying during the contest. This unfortunate habit has translated to the game logs I keep for my online calendar, and now, gentle readers, I share my madness with you.

2007-04-03 09:50:40
1.   Ken Arneson
"Game Summaries!", I say, and then again, in my best Montgomery Burns voice, "Excellent!"
2007-04-03 14:11:48
2.   BigShmirdawg
I don't think the A's have won an opening day on the road in my 22 years. The number of injuries to start the year will make this April and May very forgettable.
2007-04-03 14:28:37
3.   Philip Michaels
2 April 9, 1981 to be exact. So long ago that the Minnesota Twins played their games outdoors.

To be fair to the A's, they don't play a lot of opening day games on the road, a scheduling quirk I figure is weather-related.

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