Monday, April 02, 2007

Welcome Back to the Grind

Remember that nice, long, sweet, sentimental post I wrote a couple scrolls down, exhorting the beauty of baseball and the way you care no matter what? Yeah, you remember it? Okay, well, take a pen and write on your computer screen, "AND THEN THEY ALL SUCK ON OPENING DAY AND LOSE AND ARE SCREWED FOR THE SEASON AND YOU ARE A FRICKING IDIOT FOR CARING."

Just kidding, of course. But it's been a rough intro to '07, as the Cards lost last night, the Rockies lost earlier today, and now the A's are down 4-0 in the top of the seventh after Bobby Crosby's second error of the game opened the way for a Richie Sexson bomb. Absolutely bug-crap can be prognosticated from the outcome for the first game, but it's always nice to start on a high note. The Cardinals had their chances, but Carp couldn't locate his stuff and they failed to produce in run-scoring situations, along with the fact that it seemed a number of balls bounced through for the Mets. Carpenter didn't give up an extra-base hit aside from the big early blow, Delgado's two-run double, but he was struggling with the zone all night and his curveball wasn't working for him - a depressing way to come out in their first showing as the defending champs, especially after all the hoopla at Busch earlier. Hopefully the ring ceremony on Tuesday night will light a fire under some collective rear ends and they'll win. They'd better, because Looper is up next and his former team hits him like a pinata. Then it's off to the oh-so-cozy confines of the Juice Box in Houston - none of my teams are opening on an easy schedule. Oh, April.

The A's head to Anaheim after their three-game stint in Seattle, and don't get home until April 9th to open against the White Sox - no easy going here. Danny Haren pitched very well until the sixth inning, when the wheels came off, Bobby Crosby mishandled a force-out for his second error of the game, and the Mariners ended up totaling four runs, earning Crosby the deep and easily ignited ire of A's Nation. With a flamethrowing Felix Hernandez on the mound for Seattle, it's looking grim for the A's, who usually start anemically for some perplexing reason. Trust me, it's hard to be an A's fan in April and May. In fact, I'm terrified of May, in which the A's went 7-20 in 2005 and did scarcely better in 2006 at 12-17. In other words, A's fans, fasten your crash helmets. I don't know why this team looks like it can barely hit, pitch, or field for two months before taking fire in the summertime, but that's always the case. Hang on.

The Rockies, in a game which my sister and father attended and had a grand old time, played with fire and resiliency, and generally looked good until the eighth inning, when LaTroy Hawkins, Jose Mesa v. 2.0, came in and promptly blew it, giving up 3 runs for an 8-6 Snakey Snake lead. Brad Hawpe came out of the gate on fire, finishing with a 3-for-5 day and two RBI, which came on a clutch bases-loaded, two-out single in the bottom of the first. Todd Helton also looked more like himself than the injured, ill 2006 version. Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday, however... a pair of MVP candidates last year, they will undoubtedly be so again this year, but they made a miserable first impression by going 0-for-5 apiece with suspect defense. Holliday mishandled a ball in left and Atkins airmailed a throw past first into the outfield, also bobbling a potential double-play ball. They live together in Spring Training, but if they also live together in the regular season, time to separate those two and get their swings back.

Aaron Cook started the game and kept putting his sinker up too high, so it would break at the belt instead of the knees. He kept loading the bases and managed to escape, but all his theatrics left him tagged with five runs through five. I'll attribute it to nerves and a league-wide malaise, as only Tom Glavine, Ben Sheets, and Aaron Harang have had stellar debuts thus far. Even the cyborg Santana's yielded three runs to the light-hitting Orioles through four. Even the Royals, in one of the shockers of the season, captured a Gil Meche vs. Curt Schilling contest 7-1, and it was Schilling who took the loss, not Meche. In other words, it IS completely impossible to predict anything from Opening Day. Everyone just wishes their team would start better.

As Athletics Nation likes to say: "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!"

Well, boys, carry on. 1 down, 161 to go. You've got a lot of grinding to do, so get with the program.

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