Monday, April 16, 2007

The Oakland A's Monday #2

Overall: 6-7 (T-2nd Place, AL West)
Last Week: 3-3 (1-2 vs. White Sox, 2-1 vs. Yankees)

If it wasn't for ESPN's extensive hour-by-hour exploitation of Jackie Robinson yesterday, my Oakland A's would've been the network's top story all day Sunday.

It was obvious to this writer that God and his son, Jesus, were among the 35,077 in attendance on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon (we'll assume Allah filled in at the office) at the Oakland Coliseum. With 2 outs, an 0-2 count and the eyes of A's fans upon him, the
Venezuelan Lilliputian homered against future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, 62, to lead the righteous past the sinful, 5-4.

Marco Scutaro is one of those players that's overrated by almost every A's fan and essentially unknown to everyone else on earth. He's a back-up infielder who bounced around the minors for about 10 years before finally getting a shot to succeed in Oakland.

The A's might not have invented this type of player, but in all the years I've been a fan, they've done a damn fine job of keeping at least one of 'em on the roster:

Tony Phillips (1982-1989, 1999): One of my all-time favorites, even though he could never stay consistently healthy while in Oakland. He signed with Detroit after the '89 season and became one of the most underrated players of the '90s. His career suspiciously coincided with the Canseco/McGwire steroid era, though, as he was a much better (and bigger) player in his mid-30s than he ever was in his 20s. Got busted for doing crack in a seedy Anaheim motel during the 1997 season. I still love him.

Mike Gallego (1985-1991, 1995): The prototype for Scutaro, Gallego stood about 3'6" in his spikes. He was a terrible hitter (but, exceptional fielder) until his 30th birthday, which also happened to be his "walk year" in 1991. After, uh, "muscling up" to set career highs in OBP and SLG, he betrayed those of us who watched him hit 300-foot flyball outs for six years and signed with the Yankees. This was during their glorious Andy Stankiewicz / Scott Kamieniecki Scrabble Era. F*ck you, Scooter. Still.

Lance Blankenship (1988-1993): Back in the late '80s, when everyone claimed to be an A's fan, I remember having several involved discussion as to who'd be our fourth straight Rookie of the Year Award winner. There was Canseco, McGwire and Walt Weiss and the A's constituency was divided between Blankenship and OF Felix Jose. I don't want to spoil the ending, but if anyone wants 100 1989 Donruss cards of either Blankenship or Jose, I've got 'em priced to move.

Jerry Browne (1992-1993): Proof that great baseball nicknames kick ass in their simplicity, "The Governor" was part of the bridge from the end of the 1988-1992 run of excellence to the 1993-1998 run of…well, let's just call it "the runs". Finished his career in Florida and was out of baseball by 1995.

Steve Sax (1994): One of the oddest, most inexplicable signings in team history, Sax was three years removed from his last good year when the A's brought him on board to fill in for an injured Brent Gates. Sax's career ended with seven games in green and gold and, in his last game ever, I was in attendance to see him get ejected arguing balls and strikes. Oakland: where pretty boys come to die. (Uh oh, Mike Piazza!)

Scott Spiezio (1996-1999): I don't remember too much about Spiezio. His tenure came during a confluence of sad circumstances: my own personal post-strike malaise, an abject lack of cable TV during my first year at San Diego State and the inability to buy a plane ticket to Oakland while working for $5.50/hour renting out adult movies in one of San Diego's few "hoods". I've since grown to hate him as both an Angel and a Cardinal.

Frank Menechino (1999-2004): Ah, Frankie. Originally from Staten Island, he was the quintessential New Yorker. Square head? Check. Obnoxious accent? Check. Napoleon Complex? Check. Don't ask me how I remember this, but heading into a June 2001 series vs. the Padres, Frankie was hitting .270 with pop and a solid OBP. From there, he tailspun into mediocrity. My favorite parts of the Menechino Era? Well, there were the stories of drunken debauchery that reportedly influenced, and later claimed the career of teammate Jeremy Giambi. There was the "just look at him" steroid whispers. Finally, there was the trade to Toronto in 2004, where he put up a .904 OPS. I still miss him.

Jose Ortiz (2000-2001): True story…during batting practice, at a spring training game in 2001, Ortiz hit on my wife, who was then just my girlfriend. The fact that he looks like a gold-lamé lizard obviously influenced her decision to stay with me. Just my luck.


the artist occastionally known as thai said...

going to, for now, pass on the jose and the blankenship rookie cards. keep an eye out for tim mcintosh's cards, though. i hear they may appreciate.

ahhh, the legend of lance blankenship . . . he of the .200 avg, 100 ks, 100 bbs. :)

That Bootleg Guy said...

I'll always have a soft spot for Blankenship. It was June 12, 1992. A frosty chill had overcome the Oakland Coliseum that evening. 14 innings 12:49AM, Blankenship singled home Willie Wilson(!) to win the game.

Christ, it was cold that night.

JPinAZ said...

Got any of those Van McGee rookie cards?

the artist occastionally known as thai said...

remember: when mommy says to take a jacket, you listen.

wait, that was a different cold night.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I spent the first SIX innings of tonight's game bathing Jalen. It's like he's the Black Aqualad or something. And, I miss Bobby Crosby going yard *and* Jason Kendall getting a hit?!

Damn it.

Tom said...

If it wasn't snowing during the game, it does not count as "frosty."

Anonymous said...

As much as we all hate Cam's complaining sometimes, I'm with him on this one. Bay Area "frosty", with the wind blowing off the water, is a whole different kind of cold.

And, this is in summer.