Slap Hitter: Reasons to Watch a Team 10 Games out of first and Falling


The A's return home from the All-Star Break irrelevant. Double digits behind the Angels and having to leapfrog about a half dozen American League teams, the Athletics will stay in the national eye only as long as the trading deadline, at which point they will be recast as spoiler for the rest of the pennant contenders. As in "the Twins will play three this weekend against a team already out of contention." Hey, that's us! The team has two goals near as we can figure; try to hang onto second place, and finish at .500. This weekend will be a fair test of both those tests. Texas is right behind us and the A's are four games above par, clinging by their fingernails.

There are a bunch of individual accomplishments to follow until fall, and here a just a handful to keep score of:
* Will Jack Cust wind up with more strikeouts (leads the league), walks (leads the league) or putting the ball in play?
* Will Sean Gallagher, from the Harden trade, wind up with more wins than Big Rich? (we're up 1-0 so far. Go A's!)
* Brad Ziegler, submariner has yet to give up a run in his big league career. He's two innings away from the big league record. Weird but awesome.
* Greg Smith pick-off king. The guy has already nailed eleven baserunners, which is important (and a team record) because if he can eliminate more guys off of first he's way more likely to only give up solo home runs.
* Why can't we have stellar give away nights like the Single A's in rockin Stockton. You're telling me you don't want to go to August 9th's Faith Night and get a bobble head of Daniel and the lions?
* How likely is it that we finish the year with a Dallas (Braden) and not Huston (Street)? I'm picturing Street's career path post-Oakland. A contender will get him and will not put him in the 9th inning. He'll scuffle as a set-up guy and three years from today we'll be facing him retooled somewhere else as a starter. And we'll clobber him. That's sad; let's move on.
* Will Travis Buck come back this year? It's a little hinky having him on these in season promotions only to find that he's playing against the Fresno Grizzlies. It's part of why I don't want to take part in the A's Push-up on Diamond Vision contest. Buck says he'll be there for us, but until I know that he's not visiting the Oklahoma City Red Hawks, I'm just going to eat another hot dog instead.
* Are we really going to trade Duchscherer too? Will we need to petition baseball for another Minor League franchise? Seriously where are we going to put the next four prospects we pick up - give Stockton its own farm team. Ladies and gentlemen introducing Your Dinuba Dirt Clods.
* How many jokes about the Phillie pitcher we got for Blanton - last name Outman down there in Midland, Texas? Is anybody in Midland paying attention?
* Doesn't it seem likely that if A's fans reflect back at the '08 season that they'll say: Hannahan, really?
* Advertising slogan for '09: "If you love rapacious struggle watching the young and hungry compete tooth and claw for precious few positions, come on out!" Maybe something more punchy to TV.
* Hey did we jinx the season when the June ad taunting the Giants (What rivalry?) backfired? Maybe we can make it right by being more craven the rest of the way: Hey, Tigers, no hard feelings, don't hurt us too much..unless you feel you need to to feel better about yourselves.
* It's going to be pretty tiresome to hear all the contenders having a "former Oakland A" on the mound or at the plate. If we basically swapped a dozen guys with the White Sox, how come they're going to playing for something in September and we're going to be playing for Fantasy owners?
* Lastly we've got fifty guys for twenty five big league spots and one of those is held by Rajai Davis. How soon before he's a former Oakland A?— Kibby Kleiman