Tuesday, May 20, 2008
"Who Are These F'ing Guys?" (The Oakland A's Monday #26)
Not sure why I don't quote 1989's Major League more often.
Anyways, much to Mrs. Bootleg's chagrin, my four-year-old son is becoming something of a baseball addict. Thanks to MLB Extra Innings, we get five or six A's games a week. More often than not, these games have been starting at 7:05PM, which means (1) a truncated bath for the boy and (2) his fully nude sprint out of the bathroom, down the stairs and in my lap to watch "God's Team" – green is for His earth, gold is for His sun (or Son) – vanquish another foe.
He can identify most of the A's roster by the numbers on their backs and – I sh*t you not – has been pouring over the A's 2008 media guide in what I can only assume is an attempt to link the grainy black-and-white thumbnail headshots with their jersey numbers.
The downside is that his favorite player is, ugh…this guy. Then again, in 1985 – the season between our trade of Rickey to the Yankees and the official start of the Canseco Era – I was firmly aboard the …Dave Kingman Express. I'm sure that Jalen's player preference will get a whole lot Black, er…uh, better.
So, the point of this post is simple: since my son knows more about the 2008 Oakland A's than you, I thought I'd offer up a primer. They're playing the Red Sox this weekend, which means actual A's highlights on Sportscenter. (I know!) And, you'll need to know the names of the players that Bob Ley and Chris McKendry will be mispronouncing on Sunday morning.
Kurt Suzuki - Catcher
Who Dis? - This 24-year-old Hawaiian was handed the keys to the pitching staff after our trade of that grittily intense no-talent corpse, Jason Kendall. At the time of the trade, Kendall was hitting .226/.261/.281. This year, after a hot start, Suzuki is hitting .236/.297/.280. He's made two huge, ridiculously stupid baserunning gaffes in the past two games, so don't be surprised if you see him falling for that "fake to third, throw to first" thing later this week. Actually a pretty good catcher, who's already getting too much credit for the pitching staff's talent.
Untrue Fun Fact That's Sure to Fool Your Friends: Son of former WWE superstar Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.
Daric Barton – First Base
Who Dis? - Originally acquired in the Mark Mulder trade from St. Louis, along with former ace Dan Haren and the sometimes solid/sometimes execrable Kiko Calero. A preseason ROY candidate, Barton's gotten away from the sweet doubles stroke that got him to the show, instead attempting to violently torque every pitch out of the yard. Not nearly as terrible in the field as he showed in the first few weeks. Still brutal on foul pop-ups, but adequate at digging throws out of the dirt and owns a strong, accurate arm.
Untrue Fun Fact That's Sure to Fool Your Friends: His #10 jersey is haunted by the similarly left-handed, no-power presence of Scott Hatteberg's ghost.
Jack Hannahan – Third Base
Who Dis? - Currently keeping the position warm until Eric Chavez recovers from his three off-season surgeries and resumes flailing at 3-1 pitches at his eyes, killing rallies left and right. Extreme uppercut swing that's vaguely reminiscent of Phil Plantier's three-week Major League peak in 1991. Capable of the occasional spectacular play in the field, but offensively he's the very definition of a quadruple-A player. The Rob Ducey Society welcomes you!
Untrue Fun Fact That's Sure to Fool Your Friends: His last name is spelled the same way forwards and backwards.
Ryan Sweeney – Centerfield
Who Dis? - Came over in the Nick Swisher trade after spending two unspectacular seasons for the White Sox's Triple-A squad. Perceived to be a disappointment due to his absence of power, but he's been pretty damn OK as a bottom of the order annoyance to pitchers. Too much smiling, an inability to grow facial hair and NO discernable football background will keep him from ever earning Darin Erstad Status, despite so-so numbers this season that eerily mirror Erstad's so-so career BA/OBP/SLG.
Untrue Fun Fact That's Sure to Fool Your Friends: Often mistaken for Caucasian, but actually an extremely light-skinned African-American like two of the five Huxtable kids and all eight of their jazz-playing grandfathers.
Dana Eveland – Starting Pitcher
Who Dis? - Jowly lefthander was part of the Dan Haren haul from Arizona this winter. Often compared to David Wells (fat southpaw) which is similar to the way white or black basketball players are, respectively, only ever compared with white or black basketball players. Eveland doesn't have Wells' command (4 BB/9 innings) or workhorse-osity (averages less than six innings/start). Height of unintentional comedy was watching him get thrown out at home during interleague play last weekend. His "slide" was akin to cow tipping.
Untrue Fun Fact That's Sure to Fool Your Friends: Took his name from a female hiker he killed back in 1978.
Greg Smith – Starting Pitcher
Who Dis? - Another lefty who was part of the Haren trade. He can hit the high 80s on the gun, but his most effective pitch is an awesome change-up. Repertoire includes a Jimmy Key-esque pick-off move, so try'n see it before the league catches on. Single most boring name for an Oakland A's player since the heyday of Mike Davis in the 1980s, Billy Williams in the 1970s and Bob Johnson in the 1960s.
Untrue Fun Fact That's Sure to Fool Your Friends: Greg Smith invented the question mark.