Last year we didn't quite make it until Independence Day to call it a season, this year it looks like Oakland can throw in the towel shortly after the French celebrate their Independence day.
If the sloughing off of starting pitchers didn't start this boulder rolling downhill, the weekend sweep at the hands of the Yankees, tonight's deadening beat down by the Tampa Bay Rays and the inexorable rush of the Los Angeles Angels means that it's all over but the counting for '08. As in how many more guys will get traded? How many days until the Rangers pass us for second place? Approximately how many guys from Sacramento and Midland will get their big league passport stamped? How few fans will show up for that September Tuesday night game against the Mariners? How many stories promising Eric Chavez is going to return, oops, he's just going to shut it down for the year are we likely to see?
So what to root for between now and '09? That our all-rookie starting pitching staff (excepting Duchsherer) doesn't get discouraged at run support averaging 0 runs a game. That all pitchers (except Duchsherer) don't watch their ERA's blow up as we battle opponents who do have something to play for, other than twice a month paychecks. That all pitchers (except Duchsherer) finish in annonymity and don't suffer an injury from overuse or ennui. Wait, include Duchsherer for that one.
We can root for the most improbable double play combos that can be crafted. Murphy to Petit to Bankston. Ah, just as they drew it up in spring training. We can look forward to doing scavenger-like hunt searches for A's stories in the Chronicle from now til the end of the season. We can always be pleased that the Giants will be much much worse at all times.
Mostly though, be grateful that until the All-Star break turned our coaches back into pumpkin heads the A's overachieved, kept things interesting and showed us some of what the future will hold. And most importantly the A's success kept us from focusing on Raider news until nearly the end of July. By September with the Silver and Black leading the world in holding penalties and personal fouls, you'll be wishing the A's were still in the race.— Kibby Kleiman