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Introduction

The Oakland Athletics are currently slogging through a horrible season, carrying a record of 31-60 with two games remaining before the All-Star break this week. Although they started out the year all-right, the team’s June swoon (5-21 record) killed their faint hopes of competing. Now, the A’s, owners of the worst record in the American League, sit almost 30 games back of the first place Houston Astros and have a legit shot at matching or surpassing the franchise’s 1979 squad that lost a 162-game season franchise record 108 games. However, always the optimist when it comes to my beloved A’s, there is a tiny bright spot with the team performing a bit better as of late, going 5-5 in their past ten games. Nonetheless, with the season unsavable, following are some moves I think the team should make to salvage any positives from this season and prepare for the future.

Baseball transactions

  1. Release Stephen Vogt and Jed Lowrie. These guys are two of the most notable and well-liked players to wear the green and gold over this past decade. Stephen Vogt is such a fan-favorite that A’s fans made the chant “I believe in Stephen Vogt”. Lowrie, who has returned to the A’s a couple times after being traded away, used to provide average defense and reliable hitting. In 2017, he set the A’s record for most doubles in a season. Yet, both Vogt and Lowrie are now in their late 30’s, not as good as they once were, and serve no purpose for this rebuilding team.
  2. Releasing Vogt would allow the A’s to call up catcher Shea Langeliers, their top prospect whom they received in the Matt Olson trade and is just about ready for his Major-League debut. In fact, he is playing in the Futures game today alongside other top baseball prospects. I would also recall Chrisitan Pache (the other big name in the Olson trade) soon with the hope that his recent offensive performance at Triple-A will carry over to the big-leagues to match his defensive prowess.
  3. Decide what to do about veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus who triggers a $15 million option for next season if he accumulates 550 at-bats. He is currently half-way there. He seems to bring a good attitude along with veteran experience, and he has been relatively solid both offensively and defensively. However, at age 33, it might be time to let him go and invest the resources (which Fisher seems so unlikely to part with) in younger talent. Speaking of which, I would continue giving Nick Allen playing time as he is outstanding defensively at both shortstop and second base and shows some offensive ability. Although he has been doing a good job at 2nd, he could replace Andrus as the starting shortstop starting next season.
  4. Trade at least Frankie Montas by the August 2nd trade deadline to fully complete the roster teardown. With the A’s out of contention, teams will be lining up to try to trade for the A’s ace pitcher provided that his shoulder injury doesn’t cause him to miss any more time. A’s President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane should try to get as many top prospects as possible for him and any other traded player. For instance, he might consider Dodgers pitching prospect Bobby Miller or Cardinals prospect Michael Mcgreevy 

Non-baseball transactions

  1. The majority of home games are 95% empty as no-one goes to see this losing stripped down team play in the decrepit Oakland Coliseum. So, lower the cost of tickets and parking and maybe more people will attend games. Regarding the new stadium project at Howard Terminal, A’s ownership should do whatever it takes to come to an agreement with Oakland leadership so that this historic franchise can stay in Oakland forever.
  2. Speaking of A’s ownership, owner John Fisher is a super private person who won’t talk to the media, spend money to retain key players, or even partake in the Howard Terminal meetings alongside team President Dave Kaval. In the meantime, Joe Lacob, the super successful owner of the NBA team Golden State Warriors, apparently has a standing offer to buy the A’s. I, and many other A’s fans, wish that Fisher would sell the team to Lacob or any other person who is more willing to invest in the team on and off the field. Unfortunately, Fisher doesn’t seem to be in the mood to sell, therefore the A’s will likely continue to just be the farm team for every other MLB club for the time being



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Major League Baseball

The 2022 Major League Baseball (MLB) season is hurtling right along. After half the season (81 games played), the contending teams have for the most part separated themselves from the pretenders and tankers. The teams expected to contend (New York Yankees and Mets, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers) are all in first place in their respective divisions. The Yankees (58-23) are living up to their Bronx Bombers nickname thanks to an explosive offense led by Aaron Judge who has already smashed 29 home runs in the final year of his contract. The San Francisco Giants are widely rumored to be one of the main suitors for the northern California native if he decides to not re-sign with the Yankees in free agency. Speaking of the Giants, they are finding it difficult to put together another strong season after last year’s 107-win campaign in which everything seemed to go right. The loss of Buster Posey to retirement has proved to be a major blow as his successor, Joey Bart, the number 2 overall draft pick in 2018, struggled so much that the team sent him back to the minors. The Giants are 40-39 and find themselves in third place behind the San Diego Padres and Dodgers. Yet, they are not as bad as their Bay Area rivals, the Oakland Athletics, who trail the major-league with an abysmal 28-56 record. Their performance is expected given that the team held a fire sale before the season trading star players like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Sadly, things won’t change for A’s fans until the team gets a new stadium and hopefully a new owner who is willing to invest in players to retain them for more than a couple of years.

Basketball/Hockey

Both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) are in the offseason having just crowned new champions last month. The Golden State Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight seasons defeating the Boston Celtics. The Colorado Avalanche won their third Stanley Cup in franchise history, disappointing the Tampa Bay Lightning who were seeking a three-peat. The NHL free agency is just getting started with the draft scheduled for this week, while NBA negotiations have been going on for a few weeks. Although the Warriors managed to re-sign starting center Kevon Looney, they couldn’t keep their other free agents, losing Damien Lee to the Phoenix Suns, Gary Payton II to Portland, and Otto Porter Jr to Toronto. They signed Donte DiVincenzo, are expected to give an extension to rising star Jordan Poole and will likely consider making additional signings or just giving roster spots to other young players.

College Sports

Like everything else in sports and society, money seems to control college athletics. While colleges have many athletic teams, their marketing and financial resources have largely focused on men’s teams, particularly football and men’s basketball. Although last month marked the 50th anniversary of Title IX, we clearly have a long way to go before there is parity between men’s and women’s sports.

In the meantime, two of the biggest issues facing college sports right now are the impact that Name Image and Likeness (NIL) has on college recruiting and conference realignment. With college student-athletes now able to profit from playing sports, the recruitment algorithm has shifted. Schools like USC, which are in a prime area and have a long history of football success and a deep fanbase, are able to attract top recruits by offering sponsorship deals or other attractive ventures. For instance, Caleb Williams, the top quarterback in the 2022 transfer portal, landed multiple NIL deals after deciding to follow his head coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC.

Conference Craziness

Speaking of USC, their recent announcement set the internet and the PAC-12 conference ablaze. In the latest sign of where the power lies in college sports conferences, USC and UCLA decided to leave the PAC-12 for the Big-10 in 2024. This landscape altering move comes on the heels of Oklahoma and Texas announcing last year that they would be moving to the SEC in 2025. In addition to the Big-10 and SEC being seen as the two best conferences, they generate the most revenue and have the best television deals. By adding USC and UCLA, the Big-10 will get even more revenue thanks to the lucrative LA market. However, I wonder what USC players will think when they have to fly across the country to play Maryland, or when they have to play football in freezing cold Wisconsin in October/November. Also, as someone who grew up going to Cal football games, this realignment could mean the end of the PAC-12 and a nail in the coffin for Cal Athletics if the conference collapses and they are unable to get into the Big-10 or another conference. Fortunately, the conference still has legs as the Big 10 has expressed no interest in adding more teams. I hope that the conference stays together, perhaps with a few new teams, because realignment just destroys long-standing rivalries and related activities that fans look forward to every year.

And you can look forward to more on US men’s and women’s soccer coming soon. 



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For the past 10-15 years, the Oakland Athletics’ attempts to build a new stadium have been stunted by incompetent ownership, local officials, and rival teams. They are now down to their final strike with the project along the Oakland waterfront (Howard Terminal) representing the franchise’s last hope of remaining in the city that they have called home for more than 50 years. 

Howard Terminal Ballpark Design: Credit @mickakers twitter

Their current home, the Oakland Coliseum, is decrepit and full of leaky sewage and possums due to decades of deferred maintenance. From the stadium’s opening in 1966 until 1995, onlookers were able to see a view of the Oakland hills beyond the ballpark, and the team had a lot of success, most notably winning three straight championships from 1972-74. However, to accommodate the return of the Raiders to Oakland in 1995, city officials added to the stadium a 20,000-seat section known as Mount Davis, completely altering the Coliseum experience for baseball. 

Just a few years ago, three professional sports teams played in Oakland. Now, the A’s are the only ones left in the wake of the Warriors’ move to Chase Center in San Francisco and the Raiders now calling Las Vegas home. 

Like their former neighbors, the A’s have fiddled with the idea of relocation over the past decade. From 2012-14, the team was interested in moving to San Jose, but the San Francisco Giants blocked the move on the belief that they controlled the territorial rights to that city. So that plan died. Since then, the team’s leadership has pursued potential locations in Las Vegas as a parallel path alongside Howard Terminal. On June 29, 2022, Major League Baseball (MLB) made the potential move easier by announcing that the A’s would not have to pay a speculated relocation fee of as much as $1 billion. However, despite all the research the A’s have done, it seems abundantly clear that Las Vegas is plan B at the moment as the team has not even publicly revealed a chosen site. 

Meanwhile, Howard Terminal continues to inch closer toward becoming a reality. The A’s $12 billion proposal would radically transform and improve the Oakland waterfront. In addition to the main attraction of the privately financed $1 billion, 35,000-seat ballpark, the development would create more retail and commercial space, hotel rooms, and public access to the waterfront. The project received another key vote on June 30 as the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (SFBCDC) voted in an overwhelming majority (23-2)  that the A’s could build on Howard Terminal after determining that it is not needed for any other purpose.

While this is good news for the A’s organization, the divisive project still has hurdles to climb. Among the biggest is a final city council vote, which is expected to happen in the fall. Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Carroll Fife have been especially outspoken in opposition to Howard Terminal. They both voted against approving the project’s environmental impact report in February. Gallo held a rally before today’s vote calling for the A’s stadium project to be put on the ballot for voters in November to decide whether or not the city should commit public funding to this project. As of last year, the A’s were seeking $855 million in taxpayer money to support the infrastructure associated with this ballpark.

Even if the Howard Terminal project moves forward, it remains unclear if a shiny new stadium will be enough to bring fans back to games after the A’s hideous start to the season in this first year of yet another rebuild brought about by owner John Fisher’s unwillingness to invest and keep key players. The team enters today’s game with a 25-52 record, the worst in the major leagues. They are on-pace for the worst home record ever, and their anemic offense is putting up historically bad numbers. At least the A’s dwindling die-hard fan base can rest assured that the team’s Oakland ballpark plan is still alive for now.



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For the past 10-15 years, the Oakland Athletics’ attempts to build a new stadium have been stunted by incompetent ownership, local officials, and rival teams. They are now down to their final strike with the project along the Oakland waterfront (Howard Terminal) representing the franchise’s last hope of remaining in the city that they have called home for more than 50 years. 

Their current home, the Oakland Coliseum, is decrepit and full of leaky sewage and possums due to decades of deferred maintenance. From the stadium’s opening in 1966 until 1995, onlookers were able to see a view of the Oakland hills beyond the ballpark, and the team had a lot of success, most notably winning three straight championships from 1972-74. However, to accommodate the return of the Raiders to Oakland in 1995, city officials added to the stadium a 20,000 seat section known as Mount Davis, completely altering the Coliseum experience for baseball. 

Just a few years ago, three professional sports teams played in Oakland. Now, the A’s are the only ones left in the wake of the Warriors’ move to Chase Center in San Francisco and the Raiders now calling Las Vegas home. 

Like their former neighbors, the A’s have fiddled with the idea of relocation over the past decade. From 2012-14, the team was interested in moving to San Jose, but the San Francisco Giants blocked the move on the belief that they controlled the territorial rights to that city. So that plan died. Since then, the team’s leadership has pursued potential locations in Las Vegas as a parallel path alongside Howard Terminal. On June 29, 2022, Major League Baseball (MLB) made the potential move easier by announcing that the A’s would not have to pay a speculated relocation fee of as much as $1 billion. However, despite all the research the A’s have done, it seems abundantly clear that Las Vegas is plan B at the moment as the team has not even publicly revealed a chosen site. 

Meanwhile, Howard Terminal continues to inch closer toward becoming a reality. The A’s $12 billion proposal would radically transform and improve the Oakland waterfront. In addition to the main attraction of the privately financed $1 billion, 35,000-seat ballpark, the development would create more retail and commercial space, hotel rooms, and public access to the waterfront. The project received another key vote on June 30 as the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (SFBCDC) voted in an overwhelming majority (23-2)  that the A’s could build on Howard Terminal after determining that it is not needed for any other purpose.

While this is good news for the A’s organization, the divisive project still has hurdles to climb. Among the biggest is a final city council vote, which is expected to happen in the fall. Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Carroll Fife have been especially outspoken in opposition to Howard Terminal. They both voted against approving the project’s environmental impact report in February. Gallo held a rally before today’s vote calling for the A’s stadium project to be put on the ballot for voters in November to decide whether or not the city should commit public funding to this project. As of last year, the A’s were seeking $855 million in taxpayer money to support the infrastructure associated with this ballpark.

Even if the Howard Terminal project moves forward, it remains unclear if a shiny new stadium will be enough to bring fans back to games after the A’s hideous start to the season in this first year of yet another rebuild brought about by owner John Fisher’s unwillingness to invest and keep key players. The team enters today’s game with a 25-52 record, the worst in the major leagues. They are on-pace for the worst home record ever, and their anemic offense is putting up historically bad numbers. At least the A’s dwindling die-hard fan base can rest assured that the team’s Oakland ballpark plan is still alive for now.



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While the action on the field is continuing to heat up, especially when it comes to the pennant races for the respective divisions and wild cards, off the field news is headlined by all the trade rumors pertaining to the upcoming MLB trade deadline. This year, the one and only trade deadline will happen on July 31st. Any trades announced past that day will not be accepted. This differs from years past in which MLB allowed for August waiver trades to take place.

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This year has so far seen fewer trades in the July days leading up to the deadline than in the last few years. The A’s are one of the few teams to have already made a deal. They traded for veteran pitcher Homer Bailey from the Royals. Bailey isn’t anything special at this point in his career. In fact, this past Monday, he got absolutely shelled by the Astros who are now leading the A’s in the division by 7 games.Yet, the A’s are still hoping that he can give them quality innings down the stretch.

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Homer Bailey

Pitching is once again the hot commodity for teams like the A’s, Yankees, Braves, and Astros who are seeking to reinforce their teams for the playoff push. Seemingly every contending team could use a fresh arm whether it be in the bullpen,  starting rotation, or both. Lucky for them, there are some rebuilding or underachieving teams who have some prime talent to sell on the block.

Ken Giles of the Blue Jays, Shane Greene of the Tigers, and Will Smith of the Giants are the three most likely impact late-inning relievers to be traded at the deadline. If teams are looking for soon to be free-agent starting pitchers, they will likely focus on Zach Wheeler of the Mets or Bumgarner of the Giants. However, in modern-day MLB, teams increasingly prefer controllable assets. Some controllable pitchers that might be traded are Stroman (Toronto), Boyd (Detroit) and Bauer (Cleveland).

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Madison Bumgarner
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Marcus Stroman

The Giants present an interesting case given that, after a mediocre first half, they have been one of the hottest teams in baseball the past few weeks. They have rocketed into the wild-card picture complicating their trade deadline plans. Now the Giants front office is faced with the tough decision of whether to keep their closer (Smith) and ace (Bumgarner) to attempt to make a playoff push, or trade them in order to get a huge prospect haul that will help reshape the future of the franchise.

The A’s have already made one minor trade, however, they still have major pitching questions. I highly anticipate that they will make a trade for a relief pitcher given that their bullpen has regressed a bit from last year. Their two previous stalwarts–Trivino and Treinen–are still trying to find some consistency as both are sporting ERA’s above 4. A’s head of baseball operations Billy Beane has already traded for one starting pitcher, but given that it remains a weakness, he might also try to reel in one of the bigger names mentioned above.

 

 


Over the past two weeks, I have been away from home on vacation. First, I visited my grandparents in Houston where we went to an Astros-A’s game, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, and a couple of theatre productions. This past week, I went with my family to the Lair of the Bear Cal alumni family camp in Pinecrest, CA. At the Lair. I spent a lot of time outdoors and with other people, but had just enough internet access to keep tabs on the sports world and the rest of American society.

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Many NFL and college football teams’ training camps have just gotten underway the past couple weeks. The first NFL preseason event that took place last week was the annual Hall of Fame game that accompanies the induction ceremony for the newest elected members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

However, it was the MLB trade deadline that dominated the sports headlines, especially in the final hour  this past Wednesday. There was relatively little notable action until the last few minutes when the Astros pulled off a stunning trade with the Diamondbacks to acquire Zach Grienke. Grienke is in his mid-30s and owed a lot of money over the next few years, yet he is still one of the top pitchers in all of MLB. The Astros, with their potent offense and the addition of Grienke to their current top three pitchers–Verlander, Cole, and Miley, makes them even more of a favorite to win the World Series this year. I predict an  Astros vs. Dodgers championship series as they are the two best teams in baseball. That would be an exciting repeat from two years ago when the Astros prevailed.

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The Braves were another big winner last week as they fortified their bullpen by trading for two very good relievers. The Giants did well in getting rid of some superfluous middle relievers while managing to keep their two biggest pitchers on the team to help them push for a wild-card spot. The A’s traded for Tanner Roark, another dependable starting pasitcher who is quality most times out and should help them down the stretch as they try to secure a wild-card spot for the second year in a row.

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The Yankees, widely believed to be the Astros main competition in the American League, were strongly looking at trading for a starting pitcher to address their biggest weakness. However, much to the dismay of their fans, they failed to make a single trade for a top-tier starting pitcher.  The Twins also did not make as sizable a splash as they could have, especially considering that the red-hot Indians are closing in on their division lead. The Indians also made an excellent trade getting back needed outfielders in exchange for hot-headed star pitcher Trevor Bauer. A big reason why the trade deadline felt so anti-climactic was because teams like the Giants (Madbum and Will Smith), Rangers (Mike Minor), Tigers (Matt Boyd), and Mets (Noah Syndergaard and Zach Wheeler) kept their big-name players rather than trading them for prospect-rich returns.

In other news last week, the second democratic debate series took place. I did not have access to TV but sense that I didn’t miss much as the ridiculous number of candidates continued to cannibalize each other. However,  toward the end of this past week, the debates were completely overshadowed by the three mass shootings in Gilroy, CA, El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Mass shootings are becoming so commonplace in our society;yet, despite the majority of Americans calling for more severe gun control, no change seems to happen. I strongly hope that sooner than later, Congress will pass some form of stricter gun control. I also hope that our current president will acknowledge his role in fueling the white nationalism and targeted hatred and violence at the root of these mass shootings. Until then, we will continue to live in fear and MLB trades will seem increasingly inconsequential.

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With the number of sports teams in the Bay Area, there is always something interesting going on.

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This past decade has witnessed unprecedented success by the majority of the Bay Area sports teams. The San Francisco Giants were the most successful team in the major leagues the first part of this decade bringing home three World Series titles within a five-year span. The San Jose Sharks have been a perennial Stanley Cup contender; yet, despite making it to the playoffs every year including the final in 2018, they have failed to capture the prize. The Golden State Warriors have been the best team in the NBA the past few years. They have won three titles in the past five years thanks to the most loaded roster in the NBA led by the Splash Brothers (Curry and Thompson) as well as Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala.

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The Oakland A’s have sandwiched a couple years of last-place finishes between their current run of success that began last year and their success from 2012-2014. The 49ers almost won the Super Bowl in 2013 thanks to Harbaugh and Kapernick, but have not had as much success since then, while the Raiders have not had much to celebrate about at all this past decade.

Currently, the Sharks and Warriors are in the offseason. Both teams came up short in the playoffs this year. The Warriors specifically were affected by the injury bug which many believed gave the Raptors the slight edge in their upset of the Warriors for their first-ever NBA title. They lost Durant to a torn Achilles and then Thompson tore his ACL.  Now, many people are saying that the Warriors dynasty is over given that Durant left for Brooklyn in free agency and Thompson will miss the first few months of the season because of his injury. Yet, I still think that with Curry, Green, a healthy Thompson, and new addition D’Angelo Russell, the Warriors will be able to remain one of the top teams next year.

The 49ers and Raiders have started training camp and preseason games in preparation for the upcoming season. The 49ers are already starting to experience injury issues which was a major problem for them last year. Nick Bosa (the #2 overall pick and younger brother of Chargers’ Joey Bosa) has come down with a fairly severe high ankle sprain that puts his status for the start of the season in doubt. The Raiders, in addition to being the featured team on this year’s Hard Knocks, are having to deal with drama surrounding star wide receiver Antonio Brown who is refusing to play with a new helmet and reportedly suffered frostbitten foot in cryotherapy treatment.

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The A’s and Giants, on the other hand, are in the stretch run of their regular seasons. After a subpar first half of the season, the Giants have the look right now of a 500 club. However, they are only 3 games out of the second wild card slot so they can not be counted out of the race yet. That said, it will not be easy as they are crunched in a crowded group of National League teams that are all within a couple of games of each other.

The A’s not only have a better record than the Giants, but they also have less competition for a playoff spot. The A’s are mainly competing with the Tampa Bay Rays and whomever between the Indians and Twins winds up in second place in their tightly contested fight for the AL Central division lead. As a fan, I hope that the A’s can continue to win games, make it into the playoffs, and actually advance in the playoffs this year. They could become an even better team if they get pre-injury Khris Davis back, find a more consistent option than Profar at second base, get last year’s versions of Trivino and Trienen back, and receive positive help from Manea, Luzardo, and Puk, three very good left-handed pitchers recovering from various injuries.

 


The Oakland A’s have an impressive record of 71-53. Over the past few weeks, they have been playing good baseball keeping themselves right in the thick of the wildcard race. The A’s current homestand, which began this past Thursday, is arguably one of the most important and challenging of the season given the teams they are facing  (Astros, Yankees, and Giants) and the fact that any loss coupled with a Rays win would push the A’s farther back in the wild card hunt. 

The Astros came to Oakland these past four days to kick off the potential season-altering homestand. The A’s, who prior to the series had not had much success against Houston this year, changed that narrative by winning the first three games of the four-game set. They won each game in a different way. On Thursday night, the A’s outslugged the Astros 7-6 in a game that felt like a home run derby. Each team bombed five home runs, but it was Matt Chapman’s tie-breaking and game-winning home run in the bottom of the 8th inning that was the most significant. Normally in Oakland, the ball doesn’t carry as much due to the marine layer and overall cooler temperature than other places. However, the weather on Thursday night was significantly warmer than most Bay Area nights which might explain why there were so many home runs. On Friday night, the A’s managed to win a game in which their longtime pitching nemesis Justin Verlander started. Recently acquired Tanner Roark held the Astros mostly in check and the A’s, in turn, got to Verlander for two solo home runs. Giving up home runs has been Verlander’s lone weakness this year. The game dragged on and on until finally, in the 13th inning, the A’s broke the 2-2 deadlock on a Robbie Grossman walk-off single–the first of his career. The following day, the A’s knocked around a pitcher making a spot start for Astros co-ace Gerrit Cole who was out with hamstring tightness. Amazingly, they managed to score eight runs and win 8-4 despite not hitting a single home run. To illustrate how much the A’s rely on the home run to win games, the win on Saturday improved their record to 3-26 for games in which they don’t hit a home run. Unfortunately, despite a Semien home run in the bottom of the 4th, the A’s came up short yesterday failing to complete the four-game sweep of arguably the most complete team in the American League.

Tomorrow, trailing the Astros by 7 for the division and the Rays by 1-and-a-half games for the second wild-card, the A’s will welcome the Yankees for a three-game series. It will be the first meeting for these two historic franchises since the Yankees defeated the A’s in last year’s AL Wild Card Game. The Yankees, whom many believe are the Astros’ main competition in the American League, have had a fantastic season despite getting no contribution from big-money injury-prone slugger Giancarlo Stanton and injured ace starting pitcher Luis Severino. Despite losing one regular after another to injury, the Yankees just keep on winning. It will be another tough series and thus another chance for the A’s to prove that they can beat a potential playoff opponent while keeping pace or hopefully passing the Rays for that second wild card.

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To help out the bullpen, today the A’s promoted their 2nd best prospect: left-handed pitcher AJ Puk. Puk, a 2016 first-round draft choice out of the University of Florida, is a classic power pitcher who throws an upper 90’s fastball complemented with a nasty slider. Puk pitched well in spring training of 2018 and was expected to make his MLB debut last year, but unfortunately had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He has been rehabbing from surgery in the minors as a reliever to conserve his innings, but is expected to return as a starting pitcher next year.

I’m looking forward to an exciting series and hope fellow A’s fans show their support by packing the Coliseum to cheer on the green and gold the next few days. 

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AJ Puk


A few days ago, Andrew Luck, the 29-year-old starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, shocked the NFL by deciding to abruptly retire. When Luck first entered the NFL as the number one overall pick of the Colts, he was seen as a generational talent who could succeed Peyton Manning and help lead the team back to the playoffs. Andrew Luck’s early retirement is just the latest example of an NFL player bowing out of the league earlier than expected due to the severe physical toll that one experiences playing football. In the first few years of Luck’s career, the Colts failed to provide him with a decent offensive line. Unblocked defenders thus were able to get constant bone-rattling hits causing Luck to develop a harrowing injury history. Given  this list of injuries, along with the fact that he has a Stanford degree and has made a whole lot of money in his career, makes his tough decision seem a little simpler. Football players put their bodies on the line every game in order to wow the fans and help their team win the game. However, at some point as Luck realized, your health is more important than your job. The Colts fans did not seem to realize that as they booed him walking off the field for the final time.

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The brutality of football is also noted in the fact that running backs have an average shelf life of three years largely because of how many times each game they get tackled by 200-350 lb men while running the ball. This often leads to injuries that can cause a decline in their strength and speed, which are the two most important attributes for a running back.  Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired following his Patriots’ Super Bowl win earlier this year, also came forward today saying that he had to have a liter of blood drained from his quad as a result of a hit he took in the Super Bowl. He, like many other NFL players, was able to make a mega impact on the game despite numerous injuries suffered. The fact that concussions are up, CTE has been discovered to be real, and youth participation in tackle football is down does not bode well for the future of one of the most popular sports in America.

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Labor Day signifies the  final month of the regular MLB season. That means that for teams fighting for a playoff spot like the Oakland A’s, their performance in these final twenty or so games could mean the difference between making it to the postseason or coming up short.

September is usually an epic month of baseball thanks to multiple postseason spots often going down to the wire. For instance, in the A’s miracle run in 2012, they clinched a wildcard spot and then won the division the following day in what was the last series of that season.

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A’s 2012 Team

However, people who say that baseball is too boring or the games are too long often point to this month as evidence. During September, teams are allowed to expand their active roster from 25 players to as many as 40. Thus, teams frequently use this opportunity to bring up a couple of their MLB-ready, highly touted prospects as well as more pitching depth causing dugouts and bullpens to overflow with players. Managers, having more relievers at their disposal, often resort to multiple pitching changes in one game, which can make the game feel boring to those who prefer the constant action of a sport like basketball. However, this is about to change.

Since taking over as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred has focused on trying to quicken the pace of play. As part of this effort, this year is the last year in which teams can do mega roster expansion; next year teams will only be allowed to expand to 28 players in September. I think that this is a good rule as it will limit the amount of game breaks that come with pitching changes and will help ensure that those who get called up actually get to play rather than just coming to the big leagues to sit on the bench.

The A’s started off this critical final stretch with a win last night beating the Angels 7-5. Contributing to their success, Seth Brown continues to exceed expectations since he was brought up last week,  with two run-scoring triples in his Coliseum debut last night. This is a guy who came from some super-small school in Idaho and was not on any of the A’s top 30 prospect lists ever in his career; yet, this year he absolutely demolished Triple A pitching and is continuing to rake at the plate now for the A’s.

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Another new face to know is catcher Sean Murphy who would have likely been called up earlier had he not had some knee problems this year. His elite catching ability and power at the plate is why the A’s are so high on him. He will get a few starts in September and then could emerge as the A’s starting catcher next year if he stays healthy.

These new faces will certainly help as will the returns of injured outfielders Ramon Laureano and Stephen Piscotty. Laureono is expected back sometime this weekend against Detroit, while Piscotty’s return is far more uncertain. The A’s have managed to cope with the absence of two-thirds of their starting outfield thanks to the breakout play of Mark Canha who has filled in in center and right admirably while also contributing at the plate. Khris Davis breaking out of his season-long slump would also make the A’s more dangerous, although they have been able to stay in contention without the power production from him that they had gotten accustomed to. This is largely thanks to the consistently stellar offensive and defensive contributions of the two Matts–Olson and Chapman, and Marcus Semian. However, the A’s will not go far in the playoffs unless they get more consistency from at least one, but hopefully all three, of Trevino, Treinan, and Soria. Petit and Hendriks have been unbelievable this year, but they need help. If neither of the former three find their groove, the A’s could put one of their starters in the bullpen so that Manea can go into the 5-man rotation, or they could bring up Matt Harvey and/or Jesus Luzardo (their top pitching prospect) to see if they can be of help. Either way, the tight wildcard race between the Indians, Rays and A’s promises an exciting few weeks of baseball.