There once was a man called Suitcase. He broke into the big leagues as just plain Harry Simpson, but he traveled so often —five different teams throughout the 1950s — the nickname was a perfect fit. Ol’ Suitcase comes to mind as baseball prepares for Players Weekend, which will include, among other things, players wearing nicknames on their backs. Some will typify today’s unimaginative thought. (”Hey, there goes A-Rod with J-Lo.”) Some will reflect a bit more wit. There surely won’t be 21 guys named “Heinie,” which was the case in the early 1900s, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. But there will be yearning for more creative times. The great Stan Musial used to wear out the Dodgers, particularly in Brooklyn, and one day a fan at Ebbets Field greeted his at-bat with “Here comes the man.” From that day on, he was Stan the Man. Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean (there’s another good one) took to … [Read more...] about What’s in a nickname? Baseball has the answer
The New York Yankees came to Oakland on Tuesday night, at first glance battered, broken and barely recognizable. A second glance is required. It seems that everyone is either injured or recovering — and this team has the best record in the American League. There really is no semblance of a rotation — and comparisons are being drawn to the great Yankee clubs of 1998 and 1961. That’s what happens when you’re on a pace to win 107 games and, Bronx mythology willing, wind up in the World Series. It’s fascinating to think that the A’s could derail this grand plan. If they get to the wild-card game and win, with the Yankees holding down that best record, the two teams would meet in a Division Series you’d go well out of your way to witness. As they met in the opener of a three-game series at the Coliseum, the question was raised: Is it really a mismatch? Just for fun, we set out to make comparisons, by category: Motivation: The Yanks have a … [Read more...] about A’s win; are they in the Yankees’ league?
It’s the month of August on the baseball calendar, a time for crazy thoughts to muddle the tenets of logic, and here’s a real beauty: Could the A’s actually catch Houston in the American League West? A victory on Sunday would mean a four-game sweep and really jack up this conversation, but in an 8-4 thrashing of the Astros on Saturday, the A’s once again displayed the fresh dynamic of this matchup. The Astros’ lead has been cut to 6 ½ games, and nobody in an Oakland uniform seems terribly daunted by a team that “has had their way with us” in recent years, as A’s manager Bob Melvin said. Through three highly entertaining wins at the Coliseum, the A’s have outplayed Houston in a stylistic kaleidoscope. Thursday night was a 7-6 thriller featuring five A’s homers, two each by Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. Friday night brought a much-needed resurrection of the A’s bullpen (seven shutout innings) and a 3-2 win in 13 … [Read more...] about A’s win, and it’s starting to get interesting in the West
The Giants’ time machine slowed to a crawl Tuesday night. For once, the talk wasn’t about the initiation of unproven young players but established stars. As a theme for the first game of the Bay Bridge series, it was plenty refreshing — if a little bit deceiving. For so many years, particularly during the run of three World Series titles in five seasons, the Giants were known for their stability. Fans became intimately familiar with stars who stayed in the orange and black, with little or no fear they’d be moving on to other clubs. There would be transition, naturally, but not outright disruption. Five years removed from that 2014 title, there has been a radical shift in Bay Area baseball. Player movement has become a way of life in the Giants’ clubhouse and the A’s are the franchise standing for a more secure-looking future. As the Giants managed a 3-2 win at Oracle Park, featuring Madison Bumgarner’s stellar pitching and key hits from Buster … [Read more...] about The Giants’ stability has moved across the bay
Bruce Bochy was singing, ever so softly, as he strolled into the dugout Saturday morning to meet the press. For our dancing and listening enjoyment, the Giants’ manager had an old Captain & Tennille tune, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” going through his head and he didn’t mind sharing it. The way the Giants performed on the field, behind a surprising power display and Jeff Samardzija’s brilliance in a 3-1 victory over the Phillies, you got the sense that something might keep them together — or at least to hold steady in the National League’s wild-card race. The notion of a singing manager summons a number of crazy thoughts: Bochy grabbing a guitar and imitating Chuck Berry’s classic “duckwalk” across a stage. Bochy leaping up from his dugout seat and diving into the media crowd, mosh-pit style. Bochy and Mick Jagger in a wildly shimmying duet. Crashing back to earth, it’s more to the point that Bochy is truly enjoying … [Read more...] about Power and pitching: Like old times for the Giants