I've got a new rooting interest just in time for Opening Day. Major League Baseball arranged for the A's least flashy ballplayer, Country Joe Blanton to post a daily blog from Japan. And if it doesn't totally endear you to the beefy Oakland starter, I recommend you enjoy a night of N.I.T basketball instead. On the cusp of Tuesday, the Athletics ace-by-default will toss out the first pitch thrown in anger for the 2008 season. Realizing that it might be the last time the nation's eyes look to the A's all season, take a moment before the moment to spend time with Big Joe first.
Blanton blogs are short on introspection but long on sincerity. Try finding a post that doesn't have something sweet to say about his wife LeeAndra, or not be touched by his genuine thrill to find authentic Japanese cuisine in Tokyo.
The Athletics come into tonight's game as a foil for the World Champion Red Sox, and they also enter the season minus their most mediagenic star, Nick Swisher. The double burden of slack-picking thus lands on the ample shoulders of the A's formerly anonymous #3 starter. The only thing really memorable about Blanton thus far has been a weird ability to pitch games in under two hours on nights where fireworks have been planned; forcing fans to wait in the bleachers until it finally got dark enough to light up the sky.
In his years as an A, I've never seen a witty quote or mild trash talk from the University of Kentucky alum. He did run over Ichiro last year in July, so what little love Oakland might have had tonight will be blown away for those with memories lasting longer than one year. Even after he pitched well last year, the broadcasters grabbed Swisher as kind of an Ozark go between, to find out details about Blanton that presumably Swisher could describe more colorfully. This week has been kind of a kick; a peek into the heretofore quiet world of what is likely to be a blip in time; Blanton as staff leader. By June he'll either be surpassed, traded or just overlooked. But tonight/today is the big guy's moment. Domi arigato Mr. Joe Blanton. — Kibby Kleiman