Author Archives: Jennifer Halligan

Despite choosing to leave Oakland for Cleveland, Coco Crisp still beloved by A’s fans

Coco Crisp: Still the epitome of loyalty and leadership for A’s fans

It’s going to be hard for Oakland Athletics’ fan to say goodbye to Coco Crisp. His trade to the Cleveland Indians was finalized Wednesday, just in time to make sure that Crisp would be eligible for the Indians’ postseason roster.

Seven years is also half Crisp’s career and until recently he stood apart from other players because he always talked about how he wanted to stay in Oakland. It’s something that you don’t hear a lot of from the players. The stadium is old, the payroll is low and the A’s are either really good or really bad. They’re either a shoe-in for the postseason or last in the American League West.

A fan-favorite, Crisp was also the longest tenured member of the A’s. Crisp played seven seasons with the Athletics, which is considered a VERY long time in Oakland, a place where the filthy-rich ownership refuses to put money into the team’s payroll to keep players long-term. Therefore the majority of players are traded for prospects just prior to becoming free agents.

Still when his contract was up after the 2013 season, Crisp signed a two-year contract extension with the team. The contract included a $13 million vesting option for a third year based on his number of games played in 2015-16. When he signed that extension he had this to say,

“This is the place I wanted to be. This is home for me. So I’m happy with coming back more than just this year.”

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Marcus Semien should be Heart & Hustle Award’s overall winner

If there ever were criteria for an award that matched up with Marcus Semien it would be the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s (MLBPAA) “Heart and Hustle Award.” The award is given to one player on each team that,

 “Demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.”

Thankfully the members of the MLBPAA noticed this close comparison and named Semien the winner of the award for the Oakland Athletics. Of course there is a bigger, overall award that is voted on by former MLB players. It is the only award of its kind as only former players may vote for the winner.

The MLB winner will be announced on Nov. 15, 2016 at the 17th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. The award is only about a decade old and the past overall winners include  David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols(2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014) and Anthony Rizzo (2015).

It would be great to see Semien as the overall winner. As I highlighted above the award is mainly based on “passion, desire and work ethic.” I do not believe there is a better candidate out there than Marcus Semien.

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Ryan Dull’s record streak ended Saturday

On Saturday Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Dull saw his streak of not allowing an inherited runner to score end at a record setting 36 runners. 

Starter Kendall Graveman had pitched eight beautiful innings but found himself in a bit of trouble in the bottom of the ninth Saturday, when he allowed back to back singles to the Houston Astros’ Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez. He was relieved by Dull, obviously a pitcher used to entering the game to help other pitchers out of their jams.

Jose Altuve then grounded out to Tyler Ladendorf who tossed the ball to second baseman Jed Lowrie getting Gonzalez out but allowing Marisnick to score from third, thus ending Dull’s streak. Dull offered up one more run when Luis Valbuena singled in Altuve but he struck out Carlos Gomez to get his very first big league save, and preserved the very deserved win for Graveman.

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The 2016 Battle of the Bay Preview

Today marks the beginning of the “Battle of the Bay” regular season contests between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. They are always intense games, more so for the fans than the players. 

Battle of the Bay

Dave Stewart. Game 3 1989 World Series. Otto Gruele Jr./Getty Images.

Both teams have passionate fan bases (although one team’s fans are much more knowledgeable than the others) and the cross-bay rivalry always gets heated.  It’s been a battle since the original “Battle of the Bay” World Series in 1989. The Athletics swept the Giants in four games. 

Many a Giants fan will blame the enormous earthquake that rocked the Bay Area just before the beginning of Game 3 as the reason their team lost. Many have told me that it was unfair because the A’s were able to use their top two starters twice; Dave Stewart and Mike Moore, due to the 11-day break the series took so the Bay Area could begin to recover from the death and destruction the earthquake brought with it. 

The reality here is that the Giants also were able to use their two best starting pitchers Scott Garrelts and Rick Reuschel so really the argument doesn’t hold water. They start Garrelts in Game 3 and Don Robinson in Game 4, that was their choice. It only says that at that time the A’s had a better pair of top two starters or just a better team as described by Tim Keown of ESPN.com,

“Games 3 and 4 were repeats of Games 1 and 2. The Giants had to face Dave Stewart and Mike Moore all over again, which meant it wasn’t really a seven-game series, but more like a pair of two-game series, and the Giants weren’t built to compete with the A’s under those — or maybe any — parameters. The A’s were the better team regardless of schedule, but the Giants of ’89 will go to their graves believing they’d have made a better showing if they’d been able to get deeper into the Oakland rotation.”

Still, the A’s would have likely swept the Giants anyway as Keown indicates. The 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner and the last pitcher to ever win at least 25 games in a season, Bob Welch (he won 27 games in 1990), would have pitched game three and likely taken home the win. 

Things have changed in the Bay Area since then, but the rivalry has not changed. One game out of four is already in the books with the Athletics winning by the score of 8-3 but there is plenty more Bay Area baseball to play! 

For a full preview of this week’s Battle of the Bay on BBST CLICK HERE

Graveman cruises & Burns walks it off for A’s over Angels

Friday night Kendall Graveman put up his best start of the year, holding the Angels to just three hits while striking out four through seven innings. He worked efficiently, getting ahead in the count and threw just 91 pitches. 

Graveman, Burns

Kendall Graveman. Getty Imges.

It was by far his longest outing and best of the year. The 25-year-old right-hander is no stranger to inconsistency. In 2015, for example he was optioned back to Triple-A in early May and returned on May 23 to pitch in nine straight starts without allowing more than three runs. Then he suffered an injury and the A’s, who were in last place, shut him down for the rest of the season by August.

This time it was the bullpen’s turn to have a tough game. Graveman left the game with the score 2-1. Closer Ryan Madson, who has yet to blow a save for Oakland, allowed a sac fly to Johnny Giavotella with runners on first and third with two outs.

Bottom of the ninth and surprisingly the A’s rallied back. Jed Lowrie grounded out and Yonder Alonso flied out. With two outs Marcus Semien drew a walk from the Angels’ pitcher Fernando Salas and Jake Smolinski singled to right, moving Semien to third base.

CLICK HERE continue reading this post on BBST and see video of Burns’ walk-off

Another of Oakland’s starters may be headed to the DL

The Oakland A’s already completely depleted starting rotation may have lost another member Monday night. Sean Manaea left the game early. with forearm soreness.

The seriousness of the injury is thus far unknown, however, the A’s medical staff has said that they believe the injury to Manaea’s forearm to be a strained pronator muscle and not necessarily ligament damage.  However, the full diagnosis will not be known until the team gets the results of his MRI on Tuesday.

When most people hear the words “forearm soreness” their mind automatically jumps to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and Tommy John surgery.

In the fifth inning of Monday’s 14-5 rout of the Texas Rangers,  after having just given up a home run to Shin-Soo Choo, that’s where Manea’s mind went.

“My first thought was [that] it’s pretty scary, just because you hear about forearm stuff all the time and TJ,” Manaea said. “That word, I try not to think about it. But from what they told me, it’s nothing too serious.”

This wasn’t the first time Manaea had felt the pain in his forearm. It had bothered him a bit at Triple-A Nashville earlier in the season but this was more intense. 

A’s manager Bob Melvin said that he and the rest of the coaching staff could tell that something was off with Manaea, as they were having trouble distinguishing between Manaea’s fastball and changeup. He throws a hard changeup so they continued to watch but after the home run to Choo, it was apparent to them that it was time for a visit to the mound.

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Strikeouts are Sexy and Scherzer knows it

A brief history of 20 strikeout games

against the at Nationals Park on May 11, 2016 in Washington, DC.

 

Strikeouts are sexy. Well at least according to the Washington Nationals’ star pitcher Max Scherzer. He would know too. On Wednesday night Scherzer struck out 20 Detroit Tigers during a nine-inning game.

“Tonight, at the end of the night, was a special night,” Scherzer said. “Because, I mean, the strikeouts are sexy. And to be able to punch out 20 — it’s sexy.”

He tied the MLB record for most K’s in a nine-inning game. The only other people to do so are Roger “The Rocket” Clemens, who accomplished the feat twice in 1986 and again in 1996 while playing for the Boston Red Sox and Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs, who struck out 20 Houston Astros batters in 1998.

Of course there is everyone’s hero and beloved 6’10” right-hander Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson. On May 8, 2001, while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Johnson struck out 20 Cincinnati Reds batters within nine innings.If you want to get technical about it – two others have done it as well but their records are differently labeled.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the game went into extra innings. Johnson didn’t need more than nine innings to accrue his 20 K’s, but since the went into extra innings the game is not considered an “official” 20-strikeout game by MLB.

Still it is considered by almost everyone else as the same record that Wood, Clemens and Scherzer now hold.

There was one other man that struck out over 20 batters in one game and there is a good chance that you’ve never heard his name before. Tom Cheney struck out 21 batters once on September 12, 1962 while playing for the Washington Senators but that’s a record of it’s own too because it took extra innings for him to accomplish that feat.

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A’s to call up top pitching prospect Sean Manaea

The Oakland Athletics had a choice to make. They had options for who would be their fifth starter this week and it’s not the more obvious of choices. It’s 24-year-old Sean Manaea, the A’s number two overall prospect and top pitching prospect.

According to multiple sources, including Sports Illustrated, MLB.com and the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s will call up Manaea to start Friday against the Houston Astros.

Manaea has barely spent time in the minors but vice president of baseball operations for the A’s Billy Beane has said that he wouldn’t bring him up unless he thought he was ready. The A’s are likely just testing the waters, seeing if Manaea transition his unbelievable number of strike outs effectively in the majors.

In his very short minor league career that began in 2014, he’s struck out 257 batters in 214 innings. Manaea is still young and can lose his command at times. He had 3.53 walks per nine innings throughout his minor league career, however since being promoted to Triple-A this year he’s really calmed down that part of his game.

So far, during his time at Triple-A Nashville this season he’s allowed three runs on 16 hits, four walks and struck out 21 batters in only 18 innings of work.

The A’s acquired the left-hander as part of the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the Kansas City Royals.

The team had other options but they elected to send down interim starting pitcher Eric Surkamp. Jesse Hahn has half a season of big league experience and most were expecting him to be the one called up. Hahn, however, is currently battling a blister that has prohibited him from being able to start.

For more on Manaea ….

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Doubront’s injury may be what’s best for A’s

Felix Doubront. Getty Images.

Felix Doubront. Getty Images.

Doubront to have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday

You’ve already heard this news I’m sure and we all (at least I did) completely saw it coming. Felix Doubront, who was named the Oakland A’s fifth starter in late March, couldn’t even make it through his first exhibition game against the Giants. 

The now-interim fifth starter (perhaps permanent, we don’t know!)  Eric Surkamp came into the game, pitching seven scoreless innings and helped the A’s win that ballgame. 

It was an exhibition game but to hold that San Francisco Giants’ potent offense, keep them from scoring and secure an Athletics’ victory over a despised rival is a pretty big deal.

This post is supposed to be around Doubront. If you’d like to know more about Surkamp just CLICK HERE to read my column on Today’s Knuckleball.

It was pretty obvious, the outcome off Felix Doubront’s injury. He left the game with forearm soreness ( Tommy John surgery sign number one). He had an MRI (sign number two). Got the doctor’s opinion and decided to seek a second opinion (sign number three and the nail in the coffin of the diagnosis of a torn ulnar collateral ligament and the inevitable, Tommy John surgery).

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How do you define a sports dynasty?

realmlbdynasties

I’ve been wanting to write this piece for forever – I’ve started and I’ve stopped but this picture is an inspiration to finally write the story I need to write.

The “even year” San Francisco Giants are NOT a dynasty and the above picture illustrates that, but I have examples beyond that, that help prove my point.

DEFINITION OF A DYNASTY:

According to the dictionary this is the definition of a dynasty:

  • a succession of rulers who are members of the same family
  • the period during which a certain family reigns

That can be applied to sports teams …. I define a sports dynasty as follows:

Dynasties are teams that are DOMINANT over a significant period of time.

For further examples and information on sports dynasties and why they qualify as dynasties ….

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