Monday's trade could impact far more players than just the five who changed uniforms.
Yesterday’s trade, which sent Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez to the Athletics for Chris Carter,Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi, may seem relatively unimportant from a fantasy standpoint, but there are ripple effects that could impact numerous players on both the A’s and the Astros. Below, I examine the fallout for all of the players affected by the deal.
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Ian spends a day in one of the coolest seats in the park (seat not included).
Despite what the general public would have you believe, the languid pace of a baseball game is one of its best features. Between pitches, you have time to take in your surroundings. You might check the defensive positioning, note how a particular fielder prepares as the pitcher delivers the ball, or glance at the out-of-town scoreboard to check the action.
I’m an inveterate scoreboard watcher. It’s been suggested that I have attention-span issues, but I’m constantly looking across the diamond to check the scores. How are my favorite teams doing? How are their division rivals faring? How’s that one pitcher performing after his last disastrous start? I can get all that data at a glance, thanks to the out-of-town scoreboard.
The Athletics' inability to draw a crowd is a reflection of their poor record and awful stadium situation.
On September 4, 2002, the Oakland Athletics crammed a season-high 55,000-plus fans into the then-named Network Associates Coliseum for what is often fondly remembered as the climactic epoch of Moneyball—the night that the Athletics frittered away an early 11-run lead at home against the lowly Royals, followed by a classic incredulity-fueled Billy Beane tantrum, followed by Scott Hatteberg's heartwarming pinch-hit blast in the bottom of the ninth inning to win it. At the outset of the chapter devoted to that particular game, Michael Lewis painted a surreal picture of a "traffic jam extraordinary even by Northern California standards stretched as far as the eye could see" leading up to the sea of concrete surrounding the Coliseum on all sides.
On Wednesday night, the Coliseum played host to the playoff-bound Rangers and a comparatively exciting pitching matchup (Brandon McCarthy vs. C.J. Wilson). The announced crowd of 19,589—a figure that would rank somewhere between subpar and miserable in virtually every other major-league market, but actually constitutes the 27th-best showing in Oakland's first 80 home dates of the season. In case you were wondering what such an announced attendance total actually looks like, here was the scene from what is now named the O.co Coliseum less than five minutes before first pitch on Wednesday:
The season has hardly had a chance to kick off, but it's still fun to look back at the best stretch drive comebacks in AL West history.
Have you ever had a particular song lyric or verse stick in your head for not merely days or weeks, but years? I have. Most of us have. Maybe all of us have? Regardless, it has been at least five or six years since I first heard the hip-hop masterpiece that is Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star, but there’s a part on the track “RE:Definition” that has been rattling around within the confines of my consciousness since the very first listen: “We Die Hard like the battery done in the back of me by the mad MC who thinks imitation’s the highest form of flattery/Actually, don’t be mad at me …” Imitation’s the highest form of flattery. I didn’t know where it came from (turns out it was a bastardization of the more famous quote from 19th century author C.C. Colton), but I liked it, and figured the day would eventually arrive when I could constructively apply it.
Fast forward to this past Monday, when the intrepid Geoff Young opened his fascinating NL West history thusly: “As Yogi Berra might say, we'll have all year to discuss the season.” And as hyped as I may be for the impending season, Geoff’s right. Not long thereafter, I stumbled upon this not-so-prescient scan of the June 1, 2005 Houston Chronicle sports section, and my creative direction was sealed. There is little more emotionally stirring in the sports world than the comeback against tremendous odds, and little that I can believe to be more appropriate for this emotionally stirring week than a look back at the greatest in-season comeback by each AL West ballclub en route to a division title since the Great Realignment of 1994 (with a little help from CoolStandings.com’s historical playoff odds snapshots):
Jim has the results of his reader architecture poll, with a few surprising results, and a few not-so-surprising ones.
Today we're presenting the results of the sports venue architecture poll that was introduced in my column of March 16. I asked would-be participants to rank--from an architectural standpoint--their favorite existing sports venues (not just baseball), their favorite defunct or no-longer-extant venues, as well as their least favorite. For the favorite poll, points were given on a 7-5-3-2-1 basis. For the other two, it was 5-3-1. The point totals are in parentheses after the venue's name. Thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out a ballot.
The highest high-profile free agent pitcher left on the market may have an arm that's older than his 29 years would suggest.
Barry Zito was drafted ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 1999 out of the University of Southern California at age 21. That season in college, Zito had 154 strikeouts in 113.2 innings, and earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year honors. He was previously drafted by the Mariners in 1996 and then the Rangers in 1998, but declined to sign with either, as I'm sure both clubs have tried to forget every time Zito has taken the hill against them in one AL West stretch drive after another.
Zito would start his professional career at High-A Visalia, but found himself in Triple-A Sacramento before year's end:
The Astros' farm system has started to dry up. The Brewers' future could take a while to unfold. The A's made a puzzling move by designating Adam Piatt for assignment. These and other news and notes out of Houston, Milwaukee, and Oakland in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
Prospecting: Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, the Astros had one of the best organizations in the game. Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Morgan Ensberg are just the better of the best of the players to emerge in the last few years.
Adam Everett has been Gold Glove-worthy so far this year. The Brewers' 2002 draft is bearing fruit. The A's may pay for their ill-advised spending on the likes of Jermaine Dye. Plus more news and notes, Prospectus Triple Play-style, out of Houston, Milwaukee, and Oakland.