Tag Archives: Oakland A’s

Sunday Column: Why We Should All Root For Cleveland In The N.B.A. Finals

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are two wins away from winning the franchise's first N.B.A. Finals. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are two wins away from winning the franchise’s first N.B.A. Finals. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

By Matt Noonan 

The 2015 N.B.A. Finals have been a real treat.

Unlike past years that have pitted squads with championship resumes, this year’s finals features two teams representing cities desperate for hardware.

Cleveland hasn’t celebrated a championship since 1964, the year the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts in the N.F.L. Championship.

Golden State – winners of the 1975 N.B.A. Finals – have come close to winning its fourth championship in franchise history, but have only appeared in the final round twice since defeating the Washington Bullets in four straight games.

Unlike Cleveland, Golden State, which plays its games in Oakland, has seen neighboring professional squads win titles. The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers have won Super Bowls since the 1970’s, while the Oakland A’s captured the 1988 World Series, sweeping the San Francisco Giants in four game. The Giants have won a trio of championships since 2010, including their franchise’s eighth World Series crown last fall.

The San Jose Sharks, however, are the lone Bay Area team without a championship. San Jose has appeared in the Western Conference Finals three times since the turn of the century, but suffered setbacks to the Calgary Flames (2004), Chicago Blackhawks (2010) and Vancouver Canucks (2011).

So, who needs this title more? The answer would be both Cleveland, right?

If Cleveland wins the title then it will probably call-off school, work and everything else the following day. Yet, if the series does go the distance, I guess school would be cancelled the following Monday, right?

The Bay Area has celebrated multiple championships. So, while Oakland and San Francisco would rejoice in the Warriors’ fourth franchise crown, it may not feel as special as Cleveland finally getting over the hump and winning a title.

Cleveland has seen its baseball team come close to winning a World Series title since capturing the 1948 World Series.

In 2013, the Indians attempted to extend its campaign to the round of eight, but lost to Tampa Bay in a play-in-game, 4-0. Cleveland concluded the game with nine hits – one more than the Rays – but could not muster a single run.

In 2007, the Indians fell to the Boston Red Sox – remember when they were good? – in the American League Championship Series and dropped a pair of American League Division Series in 2001 and 1999.

Cleveland did, however, appear in 1995 and 1997 World Series, but did not win.

The Indians saw its best chance to end the city’s championship drought in 1997 when they prolonged their championship series with Florida to seven games following a 4-1 victory in the sixth game. Yet, despite an early two-run lead in the final game of the Series, the Marlins rallied to even the game at 2-2 before plating the final run in the bottom of the 11th to win their first-ever crown.

As for the Cleveland Browns, they haven’t earned a postseason victory since 1989 after defeating Buffalo, 34-30. The Browns advanced to the Conference Championship following their win against the Bills, but fell to the Denver Broncos for the second time in three seasons by a score of 37-21.

Cleveland outscored the Broncos, 21-14, during the third stanza, but did not register a single point during the final 15 minutes. John Elway connected with Sammy Winder for a 39-yard touchdown strike, while David Treadwell kicked a pair of field goals during the final session to send the Broncos to the Super Bowl.

Since the turn of the century, the Browns have posted a pair of winning seasons, including a 9-7 mark during their 2002 campaign. Yet, similar to past years, the Browns fell in the playoffs, losing to rival Pittsburgh. Cleveland registered a 10-win season in 2007 – their most wins in a single-season since 1994 – but did not qualify for the postseason.

Let the debate rage on, who needs this championship? Cleveland or the Bay Area? I guess you would say, Cleveland, right?

Initially, I chose to Golden State to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, but after rattling off Cleveland’s frustrating postseason setbacks, I guess I have to root for the Cavaliers.

Enjoy the remainder of the N.B.A. Finals and consider rooting for Cleveland, so they can finally celebrate a championship for the first time since “Can’t Buy Me Love” by The Beatles was a chart topper.

The Grass Really is Greener on the other Side…

By Andy Lindberg

I love adventures, and any time I can couple an adventure with sports, it is the peak of the mountain for me.  This past week I decided to take an adventure to the West Coast, a place I had never even been close to.  From Sunday night, July 15 through Saturday night, July 21, I was in Oakland, CA devoting my time to rolling through the ‘hood and going to Oakland Athletics games.  I went to five A’s games, to be exact.

It didn’t take long for me to become enthralled with the atmosphere in the concrete monolith known as O.co Coliseum.  Never drawing large crowds, the passion for A’s baseball in Oakland is surprisingly palpable, made all the more entertaining for me by the fact that three ex-Red Sox make up the heart of the batting order.  Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, and a resurgent Brandon Moss have become starting-nine staples on the east side of San Francisco Bay.

Brandon Moss has hit a single season high 11 home runs since joining Oakland

I was not once bored with watching the 2012 Athletics.  They’re exciting, likable, and can they ever come up with timely hits.  To this point in the season, the Oakland A’s have 11 walk-off hits.  Brandon Hicks and Brandon Moss both had walk-off hits (a home run and a single, respectively) while I was in O-Town.  For a team that is 51-44 on July 24, tied with the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim (STILL the most absurd name in baseball) for the second AL Wild Card spot, the A’s sport a league-worst .228 batting average.  They are 27th in RBI with 344 and their batters have struck out 764 times, ninth most in baseball.

So why, pray tell, are the A’s a winning baseball team tied for a playoff spot in late July with a total payroll of  $54.5M?  The Red Sox are four games out of a wild card spot, yet have committed $173.2M to a team with a losing record (48-49) on July 24.

Along with timely hitting, the A’s have shown they can pitch, and pitch very well with young arms and an established bullpen.  Pitching wins, and it shows in Oakland and allows the A’s lineup to come up with timely hits and ease the pressure off of struggling hitters.  The A’s are fourth in baseball with a 3.37 ERA.  They have only allowed 769 hits (good for 4th in baseball), have only allowed 321 earned runs (also tied for 4th), have only allowed 77 home runs (good for sole possession of 4th), and have a WHIP of 1.23 (good for 3rd in baseball).  The A’s once again have a stockpile of young talent at the starting pitching position.

Twenty-five-year-old Tommy Milone is 9-6 with a 3.34 ERA and a 120 ERA+ (an ERA+ above 100 is considered above average).  Twenty-three-year-old Jarrod Parker is 7-4 with a 3.00 ERA and 133 ERA+.  Brandon McCarthy and Travis Blackley are both having exceptional years and 25-year-old Ryan Cook is enjoying his first All-Star season in the bullpen.

So what have the A’s done differently than Boston in order to win so much with a payroll roughly $120M LESS than the Red Sox’?  First and foremost, even with limited funding, the A’s have not pursued overhyped free agents nor have they committed to trading away young talent under team control for “win-now” rental players.

I think back on Theo Epstein’s tenure in Boston and yes, the man helped build a two-time World Championship team, but many of the moves he made were, for lack of a better word, atrocious.  Free agent pickups like Julio Lugo and John Lackey were and have been miserable.  One of the worst trades I can remember was trading outfielder David Murphy for Eric “Going, Going” Gagne in 2007.  Since 2007, Murphy has hit .280 in six years with Texas along with a .343 OBP and 106 OPS+ (again, above 100 is above average).  He has 66 home runs and 48 stolen bases.  After the trade, Murphy batted .343 for Texas for the rest of 2007.  Eric Gagne, however, went 2-2 for Boston with a 6.75 ERA in 20 games and was, mercifully, not a postseason-ender that year.  Carl Crawford is yet to be determined, but with how this season has gone and with rumors of Crawford being shopped for Hanley Ramirez, we can chalk that up to another poor Epstein move.

This offseason the A’s swapped outfielder Ryan Sweeney and closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox for outfielder Josh Reddick, a player I was screaming to keep knowing Crawford might not be 100% and also having that right-filed slot open.  To this point in the season Andrew Bailey hasn’t pitched in the big leagues due to a thumb injury and Ryan Sweeney has batted .267 with no home runs and 14 RBI.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, Josh Reddick has been taking baseballs to Pound Town.  While batting .271, Reddick has super-smashed 21 home runs and 19 doubles to go with 46 RBI.  Hmm, I see a discrepancy in production from Sweeney and Bailey in that trade…

Josh Reddick stares down a Roy Oswalt offering on Tuesday, July 17.

Let us not forget how the 2004 Red Sox came together as a team and gelled.  Their clubhouse chemistry was amazing.  This year, it is looking more like 25 players and 25 cabs.  In Oakland, the clubhouse chemistry could not be better.  Walk off’s are met with Reddick pies to the face and Gatorade baths.  The team fights for every run they can scrap.  The A’s are fun.  The Red Sox are likely done.

Maybe it’s time Goliath took a lesson from David…

Daily Noontime – August 26, 2011

The New York Yankees recorded three grand slams on Thursday against the Oakland A's in a 22-9 beat down in the Bronx!

Happy Friday, y’all and of course, happy birthday Matt Noonan, who is the creator of Noontime Sports! Here’s the Daily Noontime, so enjoy, as well as have an awesome, but also, safe weekend too! 

Headlines: 

* So, those pesky New York Yankees recorded three grand-slams on Thursday against the Oakland Athletics, which is rather frightening.

* Due to Hurricane Irene, which is giving everyone head aches, the MLB has made some schedule changes that’ll affect a majority of the east coast clubs.

* Well, it appears that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has taken a “step” backwards, which isn’t a good sign.

* Apparently the NFL is planning on donating $1 million to a new memorial in Washington D.C. that will honor Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall.

* According to sources, NBA regional meetings have continued in Chicago this past week, but again, the league remains locked out.

* The Cleveland Indians made a major acquisition on Thursday, as they acquired Jim Thome from the Minnesota Twins.

Games to Watch: 

* New York Yankees at Baltimore (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* Kansas City at Cleveland (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern

* Oakland at Boston (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

* Green Bay at Indianapolis (NFL Preseason) – 8:00pm eastern 

* St. Louis at Kansas City (NFL Preseason) – 8:00pm eastern

Video of the Day: 

Do you remember where you were when the east coast experienced an earthquake on Wednesday? Well, I bet Torrey Smith does, especially since it was videotaped. 

Lindberg: Thoughts on the Sox

By Andy Lindberg 

The Sox seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday, June 4 with a ninth inning debacle that saw the Oakland Athletics score four runs to tie the game.  The A’s took the lead in the 11th only to see Boston claw back with two outs in the bottom of the frame when Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the tying run.

In the 14th inning came J.D. Drew, whose previous four at-bats saw him swing for the Golden Sombrero. Drew hit an 0-1 pitch sharply into right-center to score Carl Crawford from second and the game was won.

Saturday’s game was pretty much the week from Boston. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and in other games were forced to claw out of a hole in an effort to put up a W in the AL East standings.

Boston went [3-3] for the week, first getting swept by the White Sox, and then sweeping the Athletics. The offense looked terrific overall, but the pitching was suspect, especially from the bullpen. If it’s not a save situation, I would seriously reconsider putting Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. While he thrives in tight game scenarios, non-save situations actually seem to give him trouble.

This week saw the Red Sox lose Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill, both until late next year. In Matsuzaka’s case, maybe never again. One would be safe in assuming Matsuzaka never pitches in a Boston uniform again given the rehab he will go through. Not to mention by July of next season, the Red Sox will have a set rotation because they have to compete. Don’t be shocked if Boston makes a few moves for a capable #3-4-type starting pitcher in the near future.

This week also saw preliminary All-Star votes come out. Don’t even get me started on how stupid fans are because they should NOT be allowed to vote for All-Stars, plain and simple. There’s no reason Mark Teixeira should be leading over Adrian Gonzalez. There’s no reason Russell Martin should be leading over Alex Avila and there’s no reason Alex Rodriguez should be leading over Alberto Callaspo or even Adrian Beltre.

If you even TRY and tell me Derek Jeter should be leading over Asdrubal Cabrera at this point, I will mentally smack you in the face. The only Yankee who should be leading at his position is Robinson Cano, because the AL second base field isn’t as great as it has been in prior years. Cano to this point is the most well rounded second baseman statistically.

Now, I do not vote for All-Stars until voting is nearing its end to give the players time to accumulate more stats. However the stats right now once again show dozens of players getting the shaft. But I digress. Expect a podcast on this subject later this week.

Coming up Tuesday night, the Red Sox for once play against the Yankees during the week. History has shown Boston own the Yankees in the first seven to eight games played against them, so look for the Yankees to throw down now.

On Friday the Sox stay on the road against Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays, who have played the Sox tough in Toronto this season, but overall, it’s going to be a hard week for the local nine.

Lindberg: Thoughts on the Sox

By Andy Lindberg 

Sunday was “Sweepday” in Boston.  The C’s threw down on the Knicks, (although it was far from pretty) and the Red Sox took it to the Angels (a very pretty series).  With a game every day this past week, the Red Sox went [6-1] in grand fashion.  The starting pitching was spectacular, especially from Daisuke Matsuzaka, who allowed no runs on one hit in seven innings to the Blue Jays on Monday and no runs on one hit in eight innings against the Angles on Saturday.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s not one run allowed on two hits in 15 innings pitched by Matsuzaka this past week.  He was effective, kept his breaking ball low in the zone and threw several of his pitches with confidence, allowing him to spot his fastball more often and throw a wider array of pitches deeper into the count.  The lone blemish of the week was the first game at Oakland, but John Lackey pitched very well, only giving up one run in six innings.  Lackey pitched even better against his old team today in Anaheim, going eight innings without allowing a run.

Carl Crawford has picked it up this week as well, knocking his first home run of the season today.  The pitching and the hitting are both coming together at the same time, and in the most obvious and obnoxious statement of all time, the rest of the league should be on notice.

There’s not much more detail I can get into about the wins this week, as the Red Sox played well-rounded baseball in nearly every game, not to mention Jonathan Papelbon was outstanding, pitching in three consecutive games and earning a save in each.  Kevin Youkilis has encouraged me as well, going to the opposite field for power for two of his home runs on the season, including Saturday at Anaheim.

What does still irk me, however, is the catching situation.  I do not think it is any coincidence that Jason Varitek being behind the plate for Josh Beckett and Matsuzaka has seen both hurlers off to a run of extraordinary pitching.  The staff is quite comfortable with the captain catching.  Since both catchers on Boston’s roster aren’t hitting at all, there’s no controversy over who gets playing time.  At this point, anything they provide at the dish is a bonus.  But a team cannot win with a vacant hole in the lineup and Varitek in all likelihood cannot remain in tip-top condition starting consistently.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia has to show he can perform and be disciplined at the plate.  To this point in the season Saltalamacchia has struck out 13 times while walking only three times.  This is from a player whose plate discipline was highly touted.

In 2007 Terry Francona stuck with Dustin Pedroia, who was hitting below .200 at the time and the faith paid off.  Boston can only hope history repeats itself with Saltalamacchia, as catching depth across the league is minimal.