.500 Can Mean Many Things In Eye Of Beholder

Okay,
A’s fans, your team is currently resting uncomfortably at the .500 mark after
32 games.  The rhetorical question is
this:  is that a good or bad thing?  Well perched at
.500 can have different connotations to different people.  For those who think our 16-16 record is
merely a continuation of last year’s team that carved out an 81-81 mark, maybe
the .500 mark is a negative.  And with
our early season bloated with superior pitching and anemic hitting, it’s no
wonder some frustrated A’s fans will declare “same old, same old.”

 

However,
my view is a bit more encouraging. 
First, the general feeling in the clubhouse, as well among our
fans,  was that last year we pretty much
maxed out by posting an 81-81 record and second-place finish.  This year, the vibe is much different. This
team expects to win and is clearly frustrated with a .500 mark at
this juncture of the early season.  I
think these guys know they’re a better club this season.  In fact, they knew it in spring
training.  And when you think about it,
the vital signs are more postive then you might think for a 16-16 team.  First, we sport a .500 record (8-8) on the
road, playing top-rate competition.  The
axiom that championship teams play .500 baseball on the road is true, so even
though we really haven’t consistently played good baseball this past month, the
fact remains that we’re getting it done on the road.  Then consider some other other omens.  We’re in AL West contention even though we’re
missing our All-Star closer (Andrew Bailey), Perfect Game starter (Dallas
Braden) and last year’s most valuable supersub (Adam Rosales).  And, we’re coming off a solid 4-3 homestand
against the defending AL champion Texas Rangers and baseball’s winningest team
this year, the Cleveland Indians, with recent wins triggered by the clutch
hitting of the three key offseason lineup acquisitions in David DeJesus (two
homers Wednesday), Hideki Matsui (walk-off home run Monday) and Josh Willingham
(game-tying homer and double Monday). Then add the apparent return of Michael
Wuertz’s devastating slider out of the pen and the recent dominating
performance of new starting pitcher Tyson Ross, and this club clearly is moving
in the right direction, .500 mark or not.

 

I
had the distinct pleasure to work with Dusty Baker for nearly 10 years when he
managed the Giants and Dusty always told me, “early in the season, the key
is to stick around .500.  If you can hang
around .500, eventually you’ll catch a hot streak and you can make your
move.  It’s the teams that dig a hole
early that have trouble getting into contention.” So folks, don’t
despair.  I know yesterday’s 12-inning heart-breaker
wears on all of us.  A win would have
clinched another series win and a 5-2 homestand.  But as my friend Dusty would also say, it’s
not a race, it’s a marathon.  So, we jet
to Kansas City, where I plan to grab some big league barbeque–some place called
LC’s, located in a former gas filing station (ambience, yes!)–and also expect
our boys to grab two or three wins (sauce optional).  Keep the faith, A’s Nation.  I think this group knows it can hit
better than it has.  And they also know
it’s up to them, and no one else, to prove it. 
Time, as it always does, will tell. 

 

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