Oakland A’s


Dave Parker, crushing it.

Dave Parker, crushing it.

A few years ago at a place of business we shall leave nameless, I was feeling less than inspired. It was hard to see what, if any, impact I was really making beyond just getting through another day without throwing an inkjet printer three floors down into the lobby. It’s your run-of-the-mill office restlessness, but it was mine and it came at a point where it all felt like one cumbersome weight.

The saving grace here was that I wasn’t alone. I had three or four co-conspirators who were just as frustrated and annoyed by our rigid 8-to-5 life, and we came up with a series of inside jokes to help pass the time.

One of them featured the gentleman in this card, Dave Parker. By the time I learned about him, he was augmenting the Bash Brothers in Oakland, a still-viable designated hitter in his late 30s who could send 20 or more baseballs out of the park. We discovered some truly amazing pictures of Parker in his earlier days as a veritable baseball hurricane in Pittsburgh, winning MVP awards and sporting some terrifying face gear and occasionally lighting one up in the dugout. We printed up all of these and hung them up around the office.

I also had this card of him as a Milwaukee Brewer and I taped it to the monitor of my computer. When things got tough or our boss gave us yet another meaningless or impossible task, it was, “be strong like Dave Parker,” or “what would Dave Parker do?”

It’s March now. This is the time to start thinking about baseball and bitching about lineups and Spring Training scores, typically. But always, it seems like a good time to chill before crushing whatever problem is staring us in the face into oblivion.

What would Dave Parker do? He’d chill. Then he’d take care of business.

Cobra

This was Paul Konerko's last summer with the White Sox.

This was Paul Konerko’s last summer with the White Sox.

It’s unseasonably warm today. As September crawls to a close and gets ready to give way to October, it’s 84 degrees in Boston, t-shirt weather that seems more appropriate for at least a month earlier.

It’s been a weird summer that way. After a brutal winter that practically wiped out spring until mid-May, there were fewer brutally hot days than New England is used to, but all the same, the summer seemed to whip by. And what started with so much hope and ramped-up expectations quickly gave way to a different kind of hope, one directed towards the future and peppered with attempts to find the good as the chaos reigned for so long.

A season that started with the Red Sox as World Series champions, with Derek Jeter in New York and Paul Konerko in Chicago and Adam Dunn bashing home runs indiscriminately ends today with none of those things happening. The Sox fell apart and traded away a number of players who were so important to a championship a year ago — Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew among them. Jeter’s bat went into hiding with his already AWOL glove, but he kept his spot near the top of the order all year as the Yankees missed the playoffs again. Konerko went quiet, too, but he gave way to his successor, Jose Abreu. (more…)

Bob Welch won games, and that's as much as I could say for a long time.

Bob Welch won games, and that’s as much as I could say for a long time.

What did I know as a kid? So close to “nothing” that I’m shocked I even made it to middle school.

I knew I wanted people to like me, but understood so little about how other people thought or moved as a group that I could never keep up. Solitude was much easier to handle. I could sit in my room and keep track of the various nonsensical things I liked in my notebooks and watch sports and follow players and try to get an understanding on how the game worked, who was good and who wasn’t.

From this perspective, it was a lot easier to get a grasp on things. I could watch baseball, for example, and understand how it worked, what was supposed to happen and what was not supposed to happen. I knew that in a lineup, the fastest players hit first, the best hitters hit third and the biggest power threats hit fourth. I knew that power pitchers were big, burly guys and that control pitchers were older, a little funnier looking maybe, but could be counted on for seven or eight innings every night. And closers, even within the facial-hair-friendly world of baseball circa 1989-93, all had mustaches. (more…)

Coco Crisp is just one of several links between the Red Sox and A's.

Coco Crisp is just one of several links between the Red Sox and A’s.

A buddy from my tumultuous stay in the Phoenix area gave me a call just before Felix Doubront’s first pitch yesterday to the Oakland A’s. He had stationed himself at a bar on a night off to catch his hometown A’s, and since they were playing my Red Sox, he wanted to catch up, talk baseball, all that.

We text back and forth a bit on whatever might be happening, whether it’s a baseball game or a rock show or, occasionally, drinking. Perhaps more than occasionally drinking on the weekends. But he gave me a call, knowing I’d at the very least be tuning in and, maybe, would even be catching the game at Fenway Park.

I didn’t make the trip to the park yesterday, but I’ve always like watching the A’s play, for any number of reasons. I like that, whether through personal convictions or financial restraints, they build their teams the right way — through the draft and augmented with character free agents, not the other way around. I like their green-and-gold color scheme enough that I stole the colors for the logo of my fantasy baseball team (and I am enough of a nerd to make such a logo). (more…)

It doesn’t take long for baseball to remind everyone what a dangerous sport lurks under the surface of this delicate game. Yesterday, that reminder sent Brandon McCarthy reeling, and has left the game waiting and hoping.

McCarthy took a line drive off the head from the bat of the Angels’ Erick Aybar, and was subsequently rushed to the hospital to undergo emergency surgery to repair a skull fracture. He’s reportedly alert and responding after a two-hour procedure.

McCarthy is one of the more thoughtful players in the game, a pitcher who studies his craft and cracks wise with fans in a smart, intelligent way via his Twitter account. He has led the resurgent A’s this year, earned a spot in the All-Star Game and long ago secured a place with me as being one of the obvious good guys in the game.

It doesn’t need to be said, but this is a scary situation. The pitcher is the most exposed player on the field, and a fastball over the plate can come rocketing back to the mound faster than it arrived. Whenever something like this happens, it’s serious.

Thoughts go out to McCarthy and his family, and wishes to a speedy recovery and a return to a normal life.

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