Results tagged ‘ Andrew Bailey ’

Role Players Pivotal To A’s Success This Year

My first observation following yesterday’s 2-1 win in Toronto:   Trevor Cahill (left) looks like the same guy who won 18 last year and earned All-Star honors—if not better. His ball still darts downward with a bite almost unfair to hitters.  And this, from a 23-year-old kid who still sports peach fuzz on his cheeks.

It took some courage from Bob Geren to remove him from a 3-hit masterpiece after eight innings and a 105-pitch count, but in the long run, I think they felt it was time for Brian Fuentes to notch his first save.  We don’t make a serious run at the AL West crown unless we’re clicking on all cylinders, and that means Fuentes,   Bailey and Balfour providing the final touches on A’s wins.  Same goes for sitting down David DeJesus in favor of Conor Jackson (left, below) and plugging in Andy LaRoche to rest the ear-infected EllisJackson and LaRoche will play vital roles on this team if we want to join the 90-win echelon of other playoff contenders.  This means specialists and backup players will need to step up and flourish when they’re asked to perform, whether it is an occasional start, a pinch-hitting appearance, or a summon from the bullpen.

The good news is they’re passing the early tests.  After a bout with a finger blister, Fuentes looked like his old self at the Rogers Centre, whipping that cross-body heater that can tie hitters up in knots.  Jackson has been nothing but sensational in his two starts this season.  Not only has he wielded a hot bat, he’s also more than held his own in the field.  His shoestring catch of a sinking liner off the bat of Adam Lind in the sixth inning today may have been even more impactful than his game-deciding RBI single was in the eighth.  And LaRoche, thrust into the unaccustomed role of utilityman, may have emerged as our most consistent hitter in the early season while starting at shortstop, third base and second base in consecutive games.

Yes realists, we are only 2-4 as we enter the frigid confines of Target Field.  But as I mentioned in my previous blog, this is a work in progress.  While expectations are high, and the early season schedule presents challenges, those wearing green and gold uniforms are focusing merely at the task at hand.  With 156 games left to the finish line, there will be many revelations in store as the season unfolds.  Today, the Twins christen their home season.  Brett Anderson will take the mound for the Athletics, aiming to spoil another team’s Opening Day in the same fashion King Felix did in Oakland last week.  As always, time will tell.

Matsui Mania Officially Begins In A’s Land

For a guy who
hasn’t even picked up a bat or thrown a ball yet,
Hideki
Matsui
is already
creating quite a stir in the desert. 
This morning, the A’s new slugger arrived at the team’s Papago Park
minor league complex to shoot a commercial for Japanese television.  The commercial is for Komatsu, a
Japanese-based construction company which used to employ Hideki’s father,
Masao
Matsui
, for 23
years. 
Ted Polakowski, our director of minor league
operations, and I looked on with amazement as a small village of people and
vehicles descended on the Papago complex this morning.  Equipment and food trucks, Winnebagos–even an
industrial forklift–and catering tents served as a backdrop to dozens of local
Little Leaguers who joined Matsui-san on one of the baseball fields for
filming.  However, by early afternoon,
the rains and winds came, and the shoot was cut short. 

 

Matsui.JPG

But Hideki’s
day was far from over.  With the help of
his long-time PR aide, former Japanese sportswriter
Isao
Hirooka
, we then made
Matsui available for his Spring Training debut to both the Bay Area and
Japanese media.  First, there were rows
and rows of Japanese photographers, lined neatly in a small space on the patio
outside the Papago administrative building. 
Clearly, Matsui is a real pro who has posed for these “photo ops”
countless times.  Under bright lighting
and in full Oakland uniform, he waggled his bat, smiled for the cameras and
took a few swings.  Then he switched to
his glove, pounding the pocket and striking a different pose.  I kept thinking, “man, this guy is a real pro.”  Then once the photographers were satisfied,
Matsui seamlessly moved over to one of the picnic tables on the patio.  He sat down and spoke to the Bay Area media
through an interpreter.  He could not
have been more accommodating for the Chronicle’s
Susan Slusser, Bay Area News Group’s Joe
Stiglich
and the other
media.  Then when that session ended, Matsui
moved over to another area on the patio, where he addressed a much larger Japanese
media contingent.  Talk about stamina!

 

Of course, I
would be remiss not to share one other Matsui-related story that came from
today.  While he was entertaining media
at our Papago complex, three of Hideki’s new teammates were entertaining themselves back at the team clubhouse at
Phoenix Municipal Stadium this afternoon. 
Like a kid on Christmas morning, the irrepressible
Dallas
Braden
could hardly
contain himself as he awaited the delivery of a special gift he had ordered for
Matsui–a six-foot high inflatable Godzilla
replica.   As scheduled, it arrived
around 1 o’clock this afternoon.  Some of
the team clubbies inflated the plastic creature, then Braden and fellow
conspirators
Andrew Bailey
and
Craig Breslow
began their handiwork.  First, Dallas tossed
on the A’s alternative gold jersey–a tight fit, I must say–complete with the
word Matsui and No. 55 displayed on the back. 
Then Breslow suggested baseball cleats. 
Braden was delighted that he had one pair of Japanse-made spikes, which
he proudly fitted onto Godzilla’s feet. 
Then came the wrist bands, an A’s cap, and the
Pice de rsistance, a jock strap!  
Tomorrow morning, we expect Godzilla to meet Godzilla.  The world awaits.

BAILEY & THE LIP MADE A LOT OF PEOPLE HAPPY THIS WEEK

Leo Durocher, the former major
league manager, was fond of saying that “nice guys finish last.”  Well, this week’s Oakland A’s award winners may serve as
Exhibit A and Exhibit B in disproving Durocher’s claim. 

 

When Andrew Bailey (right) was named American League Rookie of the

Andrew Bailey.JPG

Year Monday
and then we learned Tuesday that
Keith Lieppman
had received the Chief Bender Award–baseball’s top lifetime achievement award
for player development–the reaction from friends and co-workers was the
same.  It was pure joy and
exhilaration.  It seemed everyone was genuinely thrilled to hear
the news, which in a way, may have served as the greatest tribute of all for both
men. 

 

For Bailey, we were flooded
with phone calls and emails from people he had touched on his path to the big
leagues. 
Shawn Touney, the media relations director at Single-A Kane
County, sent me a glowing note saying everyone associated with Andrew’s old
team was thrilled for him.  Even his old
coach and sports information director at Wagner
College (Staten Island, NY)
could not contain their excitement and felt compelled to contact us.  Of course, what’s not to like about a pitcher
who, minutes after learning he had won the Rookie of the Year award, is calling
many of his former minor league instructors to thank them for helping him win the award? 

Lieppman, Keith .jpg

 

And then there’s Lieppman (right) –he
shares the same nickname (“The Lip”) as Durocher–who may even be a nicer guy
than Bailey if that’s possible.  I just
got a phone call from
Monte Moore, the former legendary
A’s broadcaster.  He wanted to get
Keith’s email address so he could drop him a congratulatory note.

 

Monte, now semi-retired and
living in Porterville, shared one rather
incredible story about Lieppman that dates back to his Little League days in Kansas City.  “This is even before I started broadcasting Kansas City A’s games,”
said Monte.  “I was sports director of a
radio station in town and we held this promotion on the lawn called ‘Strikeout
Sam.’  We had this framed strike zone for
kids to throw the ball through.  We
invited all Little Leaguers in Kansas
City to participate and they all got 10 pitches.   And who wins the contest?  A youngster named Keith Lieppman!”  Little did Monte or anyone else know that the
Lip would eventually begin a long association with the Athletics that will
reach 40 years this spring.  Lieppman, a journalism
graduate of the University
of Kansas, began his A’s
career as a player in 1971.  Later he became
a manager in the Oakland
minor league system before becoming the organization’s director of player
development, a position he has held for 19 years. 

 

Suffice it to say, he spans virtually the entire A’s
history in Oakland,
making a profound impact on the lives of literally thousands of young men and coaches. 
In many ways, he is the Oakland A’s!  So congratulations, Lip.  It’s comforting to know that nice guys can
actually finish first!

LAST PLACE IS LAST PLACE, BUT IS
THAT A SILVER LINING WE SEE?

When you finish in last
place in the American League West, 12 games under .500 and 22 games behind the
division-leading Angels, there’s not a lot of wiggle room in explaining how
your team fell short. 

 

I guess the big question is,
which A’s team will show up next season–the one that fell out of contention
early or the one that went 38-38 and led the American League in doubles and
stolen bases and ranked third in both batting average and hits after the
All-Star Break?  There are credible
baseball people outside our
organization who believe we have a bright future.

 

In a San
Francisco Chronicle
story written by Susan Slusser in September, here’s
what some these sources said about Oakland’s
fast-maturing roster:

 

  • “It’s an impressive haul.  It’s one of the best collections of
    talent in baseball,”
    -Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus analyst

 

  • “I don’t think they’re far away from being a
    real good club.  All those young
    pitchers they have are learning on the job and they’ll be so much better
    for it.”
    -Dan O’Dowd, Colorado
    Rockies GM

 

  • “The Oakland
    A’s have become a big player in the international market.  Billy (Beane) is all in.  He’s never going to be caught in
    no-man’s land…if these guys stay healthy and continue to develop, you’ll
    see the fruits of the labor.  Fast
    forward a year and the picture will look so much better.” 
    –Brian
    Cashman, New York
    Yankees GM

 

  • “(Trevor) Cahill and (Brett) Anderson can fit into the top half of
    even a very good rotation.  And they
    hit on Andrew Bailey.”
    -Keith Law, ESPN.com analyst

 

Not to belabor the point,
but look at some of these numbers after the All-Star Break: 

 

Player                                     Post-ASB
Stats

Rajai Davis, cf                                   .325, 42 RBI,
30 SB

Ryan Sweeney, rf                              .319, 20 doubles,
31 RBI

Eric Patterson, lf-2b                          .302

Kurt Suzuki, c                                     .250, 10 HR, 51 RBI

Adam Kennedy, 3b                           .288,
32 RBI

Daric Barton, 1b                                .287, 23 RBI

Mark Ellis, 2b                                     .279, 7 HR,
43 RBI

Cliff Pennington, ss                           .279,
21 RBI, 32-game errorless streak

Brett Anderson, lhp                            6-4, 3.48 ERA

Trevor Cahill, rhp                                5-5, 4.59 ERA

Andrew Bailey, rhp                            16-for-16 in saves,
1.71 ERA

Craig Breslow, lhp                             7-3, 2.29 ERA

Michael Wuertz, rhp                           1-0,
2.25 ERA

Brad Ziegler, rhp                                1-1, 2.81 ERA

IT’S DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: ANOTHER IMPROBABLE A’S CLOSER

When he snuck into camp last
spring,
Andrew Bailey (below) wasn’t even Andrew
Bailey.  Say what?  We inadvertently listed him as “Drew” Bailey
in the

86224333.jpg

Non-Roster Invitees section of our 2009 media guide.  Weeks went by in the desert.  Bailey kept hanging goose eggs in exhibition
games.  But he was too shy to approach
the PR department and correct his first name. 
Finally, the old sage veteran
Russ Springer
came up to me and said, “Hey, Bailey’s first name is Andrew, not Drew!  I remember when I started out with the
Yankees.  They listed me as Russell
Springer, and damn, it took years to reclaim my name!”  Well, we quickly corrected it, and as you all
know, there’s no mistaking our rookie All-Star closer now (although there’s a
grassroots movement to, yet again, change his first name, this time to one of
affection:  Boom Boom Bailey).  


Bailey, perhaps the most humble professional
athlete I’ve ever met, is one of those success stories you’ve got to love.  A non-descript starting pitcher with a 12-22
career record in the minors, he’s converted to a reliever in the middle of the
2008 season with Double-A Midland.  Then
he just dominates in Spring Training with the A’s and lands a spot on the
25-man roster.  By late May, he’s our
closer and finishes the season by reeling off 21 straight saves. 


Whether his 6-3 record, 26 saves and 1.84 ERA
were enough to convince voters he’s worthy of the American League Rookie of the
Year Award will be announced this Monday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. PST by the Baseball
Writers Association of American (BBWAA).  The one person who’s probably most amused by Bailey’s improbable ascent–besides
Bailey himself–is fellow reliever
Brad Ziegler. 

It was Ziggy’s turn the previous year to rise
from obscurity into big league prominence. 
A’s fans are well aware of his sordid past when he bounced around with
six different minor league teams over six seasons, only to emerge with a new
submarine delivery that led him to a major league record 39.0 scoreless innings
streak in becoming the A’s closer last year. 
It was fun to watch both of these unassuming guys just take it all in
and enjoy the ride. 


While both figure
prominently in Oakland’s
2010 plans, you almost have to wonder what’s in store at the closer position
next season.  Does
Joey Devine return miraculously early from his Tommy John
surgery and become the next big story out of the bullpen?  Or does another anonymous pitcher come out of
nowhere to join Ziggy and Bailey as the newest member in the Good Luck
Club?  Your guess is as good as
mine.  As they say, “That’s why they play
the game.”

 

BEEP BEEP:  THE ROAD RUNNER IS
RECOGNIZED BY BASHOF

It was good to read a recent
Mychael
Urban
MLB.com story about last year’s
Hall of Fame inductee
Rickey Henderson, who is working
with the A’s 2008 first-round draft pick
Jemile Weeks (below) on
the finer points of

85305088.jpg

hitting and base stealing at the Papago Park Complex this
fall.  It must have been mind boggling
for Weeks to receive such personal treatment from the greatest leadoff man and
stolen base artist of all-time.  That Henderson story also made
me think of another great A’s leadoff hitter of the past. 


I’d like to give a loud shout-out to Bert “Campy”
Campaneris
, (below) who recently was voted into
the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.   Arguably the A’s first star player to wear anOakland uniform, “The Road Runner” played 13 seasons with the Athletics and
still ranks first in career games played, at-bats and hits among all Oakland
A’s players.  The Cuban native was a
six-time All-Star who led the American League in steals four straight years and
six times in an eight-season stretch (’65, 66, 67, 68, 70 and 72).  Of course, he was the leadoff hitter on three
straight World Championship teams (1972-73-74), too. 

Thumbnail image for 50812368.jpg


But what some people may not know is that
Campy–despite his small stature–had a penchant for hitting big home runs in big
games  In fact, he launched three of the
most memorable home runs in Oakland history during the 1973 postseason.  In Game 2 of the ALCS against Baltimore, he led off the
game with a home run.  Then in Game 3 of
that series, Campy opened the 11th inning with a game-winning home
run against the Orioles.  And in the 1973
World Series against the Mets, he laced a two-run home run in Game 7 that was
one of the key blows of that title-clinching game. 


I asked my friend Ron Bergman, the former long-time A’s beatwriter, if Campy belongs
in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, and he said unequivocally yes.  I also spoke with
Lyle Spencer, the Angels’ respected beatwriter for MLB.com and a
veteran baseball writer who also worked in New York. 
He agreed with Bergie’s assessment. 
Unfortunately, Campaneris received very little support from the national
writers when he became eligible for Cooperstown.  This,
despite the fact that of the 22 shortstops enshrined in the Hall, Campy would right
now rank second in stolen bases, seventh in games played, eighth in fielding
percentage, ninth in assists, and 13th in both hits and
putouts. 


For those Bay Area fans who may
want to pay homage to the Road Runner, you will have an opportunity to do so on
Monday, March 22, when Campaneris is enshrined in the Bay Area Sports Hall of
Fame.  Tickets are on sale at www.bashof.org for the event, which will be
held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel at Union Square in San Francisco.  Joining Campy in the BASHOF Class of 2010 are
Olympic Gold Medal skater
Brian Boitano,
Oakland Raiders’ owner
Al Davis,
former University of San Francisco soccer coach
Steve Negoesco and ex-San Francisco 49ers great R.C. Owens.

IT’S DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: ANOTHER IMPROBABLE A’S CLOSER

When he snuck into camp last
spring,
Andrew Bailey (below) wasn’t even Andrew
Bailey.  Say what?  We inadvertently listed him as “Drew” Bailey
in the

86224333.jpg

Non-Roster Invitees section of our 2009 media guide.  Weeks went by in the desert.  Bailey kept hanging goose eggs in exhibition
games.  But he was too shy to approach
the PR department and correct his first name. 
Finally, the old sage veteran
Russ Springer
came up to me and said, “Hey, Bailey’s first name is Andrew, not Drew!  I remember when I started out with the
Yankees.  They listed me as Russell
Springer, and damn, it took years to reclaim my name!”  Well, we quickly corrected it, and as you all
know, there’s no mistaking our rookie All-Star closer now (although there’s a
grassroots movement to, yet again, change his first name, this time to one of
affection:  Boom Boom Bailey).  


Bailey, perhaps the most humble professional
athlete I’ve ever met, is one of those success stories you’ve got to love.  A non-descript starting pitcher with a 12-22
career record in the minors, he’s converted to a reliever in the middle of the
2008 season with Double-A Midland.  Then
he just dominates in Spring Training with the A’s and lands a spot on the
25-man roster.  By late May, he’s our
closer and finishes the season by reeling off 21 straight saves. 


Whether his 6-3 record, 26 saves and 1.84 ERA
were enough to convince voters he’s worthy of the American League Rookie of the
Year Award will be announced this Monday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. PST by the Baseball
Writers Association of American (BBWAA).  The one person who’s probably most amused by Bailey’s improbable ascent–besides
Bailey himself–is fellow reliever
Brad Ziegler. 

It was Ziggy’s turn the previous year to rise
from obscurity into big league prominence. 
A’s fans are well aware of his sordid past when he bounced around with
six different minor league teams over six seasons, only to emerge with a new
submarine delivery that led him to a major league record 39.0 scoreless innings
streak in becoming the A’s closer last year. 
It was fun to watch both of these unassuming guys just take it all in
and enjoy the ride. 


While both figure
prominently in Oakland’s
2010 plans, you almost have to wonder what’s in store at the closer position
next season.  Does
Joey Devine return miraculously early from his Tommy John
surgery and become the next big story out of the bullpen?  Or does another anonymous pitcher come out of
nowhere to join Ziggy and Bailey as the newest member in the Good Luck
Club?  Your guess is as good as
mine.  As they say, “That’s why they play
the game.”

 

BEEP BEEP:  THE ROAD RUNNER IS
RECOGNIZED BY BASHOF

It was good to read a recent
Mychael
Urban
MLB.com story about last year’s
Hall of Fame inductee
Rickey Henderson, who is working
with the A’s 2008 first-round draft pick
Jemile Weeks (below) on
the finer points of

85305088.jpg

hitting and base stealing at the Papago Park Complex this
fall.  It must have been mind boggling
for Weeks to receive such personal treatment from the greatest leadoff man and
stolen base artist of all-time.  That Henderson story also made
me think of another great A’s leadoff hitter of the past. 


I’d like to give a loud shout-out to Bert “Campy”
Campaneris
, (below) who recently was voted into
the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.   Arguably the A’s first star player to wear anOakland uniform, “The Road Runner” played 13 seasons with the Athletics and
still ranks first in career games played, at-bats and hits among all Oakland
A’s players.  The Cuban native was a
six-time All-Star who led the American League in steals four straight years and
six times in an eight-season stretch (’65, 66, 67, 68, 70 and 72).  Of course, he was the leadoff hitter on three
straight World Championship teams (1972-73-74), too. 

Thumbnail image for 50812368.jpg


But what some people may not know is that
Campy–despite his small stature–had a penchant for hitting big home runs in big
games  In fact, he launched three of the
most memorable home runs in Oakland history during the 1973 postseason.  In Game 2 of the ALCS against Baltimore, he led off the
game with a home run.  Then in Game 3 of
that series, Campy opened the 11th inning with a game-winning home
run against the Orioles.  And in the 1973
World Series against the Mets, he laced a two-run home run in Game 7 that was
one of the key blows of that title-clinching game. 


I asked my friend Ron Bergman, the former long-time A’s beatwriter, if Campy belongs
in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, and he said unequivocally yes.  I also spoke with
Lyle Spencer, the Angels’ respected beatwriter for MLB.com and a
veteran baseball writer who also worked in New York. 
He agreed with Bergie’s assessment. 
Unfortunately, Campaneris received very little support from the national
writers when he became eligible for Cooperstown.  This,
despite the fact that of the 22 shortstops enshrined in the Hall, Campy would right
now rank second in stolen bases, seventh in games played, eighth in fielding
percentage, ninth in assists, and 13th in both hits and
putouts. 


For those Bay Area fans who may
want to pay homage to the Road Runner, you will have an opportunity to do so on
Monday, March 22, when Campaneris is enshrined in the Bay Area Sports Hall of
Fame.  Tickets are on sale at www.bashof.org for the event, which will be
held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel at Union Square in San Francisco.  Joining Campy in the BASHOF Class of 2010 are
Olympic Gold Medal skater
Brian Boitano,
Oakland Raiders’ owner
Al Davis,
former University of San Francisco soccer coach
Steve Negoesco and ex-San Francisco 49ers great R.C. Owens.

IN BAY AREA SPORTS HISTORY, THE SWINGIN’ A’S STAND ALONE

As the World Series reaches
its zenith this week–how about the 47% increase in TV ratings from last year’s
Fall Classic?–FOX broadcasters
Joe Buck and
Tim
McCarver
have made references about the
Phillies trying to become the first National League team to win back-to-back
World Series since Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine in 1975-76.  No question, if the Phillies were to rally
from a three games to one deficit and win the 2009 Series, it will be an impressive
achievement. 


Of course, here in the Bay
Area, we have been blessed with several sports champions over the years.  The San
Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Golden State
Warriors have all won one or more titles during their local histories. Yet none
of them can compare to the three-year run the Oakland A’s had in 1972-74.  Some 20 years before the NBA’s Chicago Bulls coined the phrase, “Three-Peat,” the
“Swingin’ A’s” reeled off three straight World Series championships–still the
only professional team in Bay Area history to accomplish such a rare
streak.  Future Hall of Famers
Catfish Hunter,
Reggie Jackson
and Rollie Fingers, along with American League MVP Vida Blue and perennial All-Stars Joe Rudi, Sal Bando and Campy Campaneris, comprised one of the most talented rosters in baseball history.  We should not forget their greatness, as those
pitching-rich clubs may very well provide the blueprint for future A’s
success. 


So, when you visit the Coliseum
next season and see those championship banners from 1972, 1973 and 1974, think
about this:  those A’s teams are part of
a very select group of professional sports teams to win three straight
titles.  They join the Boston Celtics,
New York Yankees, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Green
Bay Packers, Montreal Canadians and Toronto Maple Leafs as one of eight franchises in American pro sports history to smell such rarefied air. 

 

LEFTOVER ACORNS
FROM OAKTOWN…

When Craig Breslow (below) was claimed off waivers from Minnesota
at midseason and joined us during a Tampa
Bay series in St. Petersburg, I realized he would be
stereotyped as “the bookworm.”  How could
you not be when you majored in
molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale?  I wasn’t sure how self conscious he might be
about his brainiac image–The Wall Street Journal called him the
“smartest player in the major leagues.”–but thought it best to use an obvious
strategy as an ice-breaker.  We discussed
the merits of great pizza!  Let me
explain. 

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Craig Breslow.jpg


While Craig and I were in the
security line to board our team bus after the game, I simply asked him, “Hey
Craig, how about a Pepe’s garlic clam pizza right about how?”  His face broke into a wide grin.  “How do you
know about Pepe’s?,” he asked.  I
explained to him that I had lived in Greenwich, Conn. for two years and had heard about Wooster Street,
this Italian two-block section of New Haven, where the pizza was better than the famed pies of New York
City.  Pepe’s, no question, was the Godfather
institution of all pizza joints on Wooster. 


As we got to know each other during the
remaining months of the 2009 season, I found Craig to be a very thoughtful yet
unassuming person, someone who did not wear his Ivy League degree on his
sleeve.  However, he clearly is a “doer,”
both on and off the field. 


So it should
be no surprise that he is hosting the
2nd Annual First Pitch Celebrity Gala this Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Conn.  It’s a fundraiser for his own “Strike 3
Foundation,” which Craig founded to heighten awareness and raise money for
childhood cancer research.  This
foundation is very personal for
Craig. 


At age 14, he and his family were
informed that his sister had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  While he was devastated by the news, he also
became extremely curious on what causes cancer and how do we cure it.  Fifteen years later, his sister is officially
a survivor and living a normal, healthy life.  
But it was that sobering diagnosis in 1994 that sparked Craig’s interest
and led to pursue a future career in medicine. 


Now, Craig is using his fame as a major leaguer to help any way he can. Some
of Breslow’s buddies are among the luminaries scheduled to appear at Saturday’s
event, including A’s teammates
Andrew Bailey,
Nomar
Garciaparra, Jack Cust, Rajai Davis
and Vin Mazzaro, plus Minnesota Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey and University of Connecticut women’s basketball
coach
Shea
Ralph
. 
For more information, go to his website, www.strike3foundation.org….


Before I close, let me share this funny tidbit from my early baseball
days.  With apologies to Breslow, Brett
Anderson, Dallas Braden, Jerry Blevins, et al, it’s a quick story about a
lefthander.  It was during my college
days at Pepperdine and involved my buddy,
Harry Miller,
who wrote for the campus newspaper covering the Waves’ baseball team. 


There was a big lefthanded pitcher on the
team.  As a junior, his impressive
talents were on display at USC’s Dedeaux Field when he threw a shutout to
eliminate the Trojans from the NCAA playoffs. 
Scouts took notice and were out in force the following season.  He was a large kid with nasty stuff, but he
had a reputation of being a little on the emotional side.  Psycho may be a little strong, so we’ll leave
it at emotional.  Anyway, he was
projected as a high draft pick heading into his senior year. Unfortunately, he
went into the tank early in the season, started pressing and he had something
like an 8.23 ERA late in the season.  You
could just see that big, fat bonus shrinking to pennies on the dollar.  Then my buddy, Harry, notepad in hand, comes
up to Tony and asks the $64,000 question: 
“Tony, you must be disappointed with the way things have gone this
year.  Do you think it’s mental or
physical?”  Tony shook his head, paused for
a moment, and then replied:  “You know, I
just don’t know.  I think that’s what confuses me.”

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