The Roman Colosseum is one of history’s most important buildings. Highlighting the might and power of Ancient Rome, the Colosseum played host to gladiatorial battles, in which slaves were forced to fight to the death. While retrospectively barbaric, these events were held in honor of and for the emperor, and were the primary source of entertainment for many. Gladiators themselves became symbols of bravery, brutality, and brawn as the victors won their freedom and became legends in the process. Those days are gone now, forever a memory of a bygone era. But its memory lives on in the form of a modern day Colosseum, or should I say, Coliseum on the outskirts of Oakland, California.
Like the Roman Colosseum, this Coliseum is crumbling and stands as a shadow of its former self. A cavalcade of heroes was assembled by Emperor Beanius to return the empire to its former glory. Forget about Crixus, Commodius, and Sparticus; modern day Gladiators like Samardzijus, Donaldsonius, and Cespedius were supposed to rise in battle and save the day. Unfortunately, some dude named Salvador ruined everything—including this awful metaphor—and now the Oakland Athletics are 20-33 and 12 games back at the beginning of June.
Game Notes – Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees
- Fielding percentage is really stupid. You learn very little, if anything, about a player’s defensive ability by looking at his fielding percentage. While it will hopefully never again be used to assess a player’s skill level, fielding percentage—like any metric—can become a bit more interesting when a player is posting historically terrible marks in the category. Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien fits that bill. Semien entered yesterday’s game with a league-leading 18 errors (nine throwing, nine fielding) and a .917 fielding percentage. His .917 mark is currently the lowest by any qualified shortstop of the last 50 years. With the A’s holding a rare lead late in the game, manager Bob Melvin took Semien out in the 8th inning in favor of defensive specialist Andy Parrino. While Semien has hit well for an Oakland team desperate for offense, it will be interesting to see how long the A’s decide to keep starting him at short before moving him to another permanent position or convert him to more of the super-utility guy he was in Chicago.
- Last year, Jesse Chavez became the first starting pitcher listed at 160 lbs or less to throw at least 100 innings since Casey Fossum did it in 2006. Chavez has retained his title of Lightest Major League Starting Pitcher as he continues his transition to being a full-time starter after six years of relieving for five different teams. Chavez turned in one of the best starts of his career, scattering seven hits (all singles) over eight shutout innings while striking out six and walking none.
- Speaking of Chavez, I (Jake) asked him a question. It wasn’t a particularly good question, but it was the first question I’ve ever asked a major leaguer in the locker room. Our friend, writer, and awesome person Wendy Thurm described the post-game locker room experience perfectly to us. “Imagine walking into someone’s home and they are just sitting there, probably wearing minimal clothing. You are supposed to walk up to them, a complete stranger, and ask them how they did at work that day.” It’s an odd situation for sure, especially for two guys like us who, as college students, don’t really look like we belong in there. Despite our discomfort, we figure that being in the locker room watching pros like Susan Slusser and Jane Lee conduct interviews will help us in the long run. Yesterday, I decided to actually ask a question. I looked Chavez in the eye and croaked out, “What’s it like pitching on the fourth day of a four-game series? How does seeing the same team for three games prior change how you approach the opposing lineup?” Chavez: “It helps out a lot. Having three righties going before you in a series, it kinda helps you see things and how they did it, and you get to pick their brains. It helps out a lot. That's the good thing about our staff is that we always communicate.” The moral of the story here is that avoiding cliche in post-game interviews is extremely difficult and only the best beat writers are able to do it. Next time, I’ll just shove a microphone in a player's face and ask, “What are your thoughts?”
-Meals at In-N-Out: 3
-Mexican Food Meals: 7
-Dr. Peppers consumed: Jake – 20/Jordan – 20
-Times we listened to Evergreen by Westlife: 41
Our third day in the Bay Area will take us to the home of our Even-Year Overlords, as the defending World Series champion Giants take on Gerrit Cole and the Pirates. Before the game, we’ll spend some time wandering around the exterior of AT&T Park and imagining where the inevitable Barry Bonds statue will eventually go.
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