Are the A’s teasing me again?

Two seasons ago, I stuck my neck out in my 2009 Divisional picks by going with the Oakland A’s to win the West. We had just come off seasons where teams like the Angels, the Marlins, the Tigers, the struggling Cardinals, the Rockies and Rays had won pennants that confounded the experts.

So I thought “Why not go against the grain? If I am right with my pick, then I look like a genius.”

Then again, if the pick flops, then I look like a moron.

I had the 2009 Oakland Athletics winning the World Series.
They finished in dead last place, 22 games behind the Angels.

WHOOPS!

But now I am looking at this team, and I can’t help but wonder if I should pick them again.

They just added Brian Fuentes to the roster and he should make their bullpen pretty damn deep. Andrew Bailey, Grant Balfour, Brad Ziegler and Brian Fuentes in the pen?

Closing out a rotation of Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson?

(I am not going to include Rich Harden. Any day he is NOT on the disabled list is a bonus.)

Couple that with Hideki Matsui and a few other bats added to the lineup… Texas losing Cliff Lee and the Angels not being able to sign anyone and Seattle in flux…

Dare I do it?
Dare I make the pick again?

My 2009 picks of Oakland and Cincinnati doesn’t look so outlandish for 2011.

But can I pick Oakland?
Or are they teasing me.

Maybe I’ll pick the Mariners.

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What the hell kind of season is Dallas Braden having?

It is a strange season for him, no doubt about it.
He has had surreal controversy regarding A-Rod walking on his mound.
He had the heart warming Mother’s Day perfect game and his grandmother telling A-Rod to stick it.
He did a good job delivering a Top Ten list on Letterman.
He’s got 5 complete games plus 2 shutouts (which lead the AL).
So he has the aura of being a good pitcher.
But he has a losing record… and not just a hard luck Cole Hamels kind of losing record… he’s gotten BOMBED.
And tonight, with the A’s having a sliver of hope, and Texas already in the loss column… he coughs up 5 runs in a brutal second inning that takes the A’s out of it early and makes their wild 9th inning seem like desperation rather than a genuine comeback attempt.
And I thought Dice-K was tough to figure out!

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Is the pitching getting better or is it just me?

2010 has already had some extraordinarily special pitching moments and we’re not even in mid June.

Either the steroid era is really over or the pitchers are on something.
And it’s great for baseball in my opinion.

We have had Ubaldo Jimenez throwing a no hitter and putting up numbers that would be eye popping in a pitchers park let alone the zero G of Coors Field.

We have had Dallas Braden throwing a perfect game on Mother’s Day (and seeing his grandmother trash talk A-Rod to boot!)

We had Roy Halladay throwing a perfect game in Miami.

We had the Armando Galarraga spoiled perfect game.

We had Daisuke Matsuzaka nearly throw a no hitter.

We had Stephen Strasburg’s mind boggling debut.

We had ancient Jamie Moyer throwing a shutout.

We’ve seen Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester, Adam Wainwright, Clay Buchholz, Matt Cain and Josh Johnson all throw like aces.

We’ve seen Jaime Garcia, Mike Pelfrey, David Price, Phil Hughes, Mitch Talbot, Mike Leake and Mat Latos all blossom into top starters.

We’ve seen comeback seasons from Tim Hudson, Ervin Santana, Livan Hernandez and Carlos Silva.

There’s a surplus of Cy Young contenders and well pitched games with intriguing match ups are becoming more and more common.

Just today you have Toronto’s Shaun Marcum going up against Tampa Bay’s David Price and St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright is going up against L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw.

Not to mention Dallas Braden, Jonathan Sanchez, CC Sabathia and Clay Buccholz are all taking the hill as well.

Look, I know the home run is sexy and there is a sense that most fans just want to see a slugfest… but I don’t believe that.

I think that if you get a dominating pitcher facing a kick ass hitter, it makes for a confrontation unlike any in sport.

How exciting is a home run into the upper deck when the pitcher is a scrub just up from AAA, or a middle reliever who barely has a job, or Kyle Farnsworth?

Maybe this IS the end of the steroid era for hitters… the slugger happy AL hasn’t seen a 40 home run hitter since A-Rod’s 54 taters in 2007.

And perhaps when someone says “they are a 30 home run hitter” or “they are good for 95-100 RBI” it won’t sound like they are describing a platoon reserve shortstop.

Maybe we can expect some real dominating pitching. Maybe all the nonsense that we’ll never see another 300 game winner can end.

Maybe games will move quicker. Maybe runs will be at a premium and when a team falls behind by a few runs, it will make the game more tense instead of having everyone think “Ah don’t worry… this will be a 9-8 game by the end.”

It’s as if they are playing BASEBALL and not just playing home run derby!

What a novel concept!

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