Wow, when your team gets slagged by its anonymous peers, you must really suck. Every team in all of the major leagues except for the bottom dwelling Orioles and Pirates (We are Fam-i-ly!) have at least one player listed as the Best in some aspect of big league play. This week when our Sporting News magazine arrived, not by Pony Express, thank you very much, the mag's central spread lists accomplishments like The Best Outfield Arm, the Toughest Hitter with Two Outs, etc. And out of some 100 guys listed, none are Oakland Athletics. The Giants have one, the Kansas City Royals have one, the Washington Nationals have one, various umpires are listed, but no A's are even in the top five of anything.
Slap Hitter is here to rectify those omissions, calculating that maybe they just asked the wrong questions. Here are our categories:
* Hey, Get the Bat off your Shoulder for Godssakes - Jack Cust, who is the American Leage number one in strikeouts and walks, currently working on that 17 consecutive game with a strike out streak. Maybe if we use him as a pinch runner he can snap it?.
* Pick Me! No, Don't! - Greg Smith who manages to lead the world in picking guys off first while simultaneously allowing a 41-year old to steal home off him almost uncontested.
* First Basemen of the Future - Wes Bankston meet Daric Barton meet Dan Johnson meet Carlos Pena.
* Pod Pitchers - What happens on that Disabled list stays on the Disabled list. We want back the old Santiago Castilla, Andrew Brown, Keith Foulke before they returned to give up a run every inning they're out there. On second thought, never mind about Foulke.
* 25 or 6 to 4 - Even though our roster has changed daily since Memorial Day we seem to stay between four and six games out of first no matter who's wearing the uni.
* Black is Back - Nobody really loves the alternative black and yellow (and green? and white?) alternative jersey except for Justin Duchscherer, who as starting pitcher at home is allowed to choose the uni tops every day but Wednesday (still following?), but considering how damn good he's been, how about making Blanton wear it too. Spinoff benefit; black is slimming as well.
* Ty goes to the Runner: Until yesterday's breathless post-game interview with Eeemil Brown, I never realized that two of our bench coaches are named Ty (Waller and Van Burkleo. The third base coach is named "Tony" if he'd drop the middle two letters, we'd really have something .odd). One of them is giving up his jersey number to newest Athletic Sean Gallagher today, who has already endeared himself in an interview, where he said he deserved it the time Cub manager Lou Pinella chewed his ass out, saying he'd welcome A's skipper Bob Geren to do the same, "If I'm acting like an idiot out there." Why was Brown panting on the air? Was he running laps during the Q and A?
* Crowded House - It is painful to see A's attendance numbers, I almost dread watching Tuesday evening games on the tube seeing about half of one deck half filled. Of course if I was any sort of fan I would be there spread out over three or four seats myself.
* Rivalry weekend: Hated Angels in town starting tonight. We need to take 2 of 3 to be 4 back. That sounds very familiar. Go Gallagher, hope your new uniform brings us luck. (Wear black).— Kibby Kleiman