Don't ever let anyone tell you that the Baseball Gods lack a sense of humor; it's simply not true. The collective funny bone is intact—the problem is that comedy doesn't tickle it.
Instead, it's cruelty that gives the diamond deities a case of the giggles.
Over the course of any team's 162-game season, a fan will see ample proof of this perversity. At the moment, aficionados of the Oakland Athletics are getting their eyeful.
Just as the 2010 Athletic campaign was taking on a very rosy glint, the Oaktown nine hit a pothole and began throwing rods. Those of you familiar with my dastardly deeds probably won't find it a coincidence that the going got rough almost immediately after yours truly sang the franchise's praises (and again here ).
In fact, some of the oil started leaking before the green and gold even made it out of the Bay Area.
The injury bug took a big ol' bite out of the team, felling several key pieces in Brett Anderson, Kurt Suzuki, and Justin Duchscherer (to name a few). For those unfamiliar with the Elephants, that's the starting catcher and two of the top three starters.
Not surprisingly, the pitching began belching smoke and not the good kind.
Ben Sheets suffered a regression—performance-wise—in his two turns on a foreign bump as he comes back from elbow surgery. Dallas Braden got knocked around in his first start post-mound-crossing and Trevor Cahill got shelled making his 2010 debut in Anderson's slot.
Luckily for Oakland , Gio Gonzalez bowed his neck on Saturday and managed to salvage the one game against the Blue Jays. The southpaw whiffed eight in 6 2/3 innings while conceding only two earned runs and five baserunners to Toronto.
On Tuesday, the Athletics will get an idea of exactly how bad the carnage's gonna get.
Vin Mazzaro will be pressed into duty against the Texas Rangers because of inflammation in Duke's left hip. Incidentally, that's NOT his surgically repaired joint nor is it a ding to shoulder, back or psyche—the maladies that limited the Oakland righty in two of the last three years.
Not sure if that's good or bad news regarding Duchscherer, but it certainly takes on an ominous blush if Mazzaro can't deliver quickly on a substantial bit of his potential.
And that's only the arms.
The hitting—never to be confused with the '61 New York Yankees in the first place—has seen some of the bloom come off Daric Barton's rose. His hot, multi-hit-per-game bat has cooled down considerably, causing his average to dip below .300.
Additionally, the loss of Suzuki's been felt as much on offense as it has on defense.
Happily, the state of the lumber is not all gloom and doom.
On the contrary, second baseman Adam Rosales put together a nice run with 10 hits in 21 road at-bats. Ryan Sweeney's in a nice groove, as is Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Cliff Pennington contributed a four-hit game in Tampa plus a three-hit contest in Toronto.
Furthermore, rookie catcher Josh Donaldson launched his first big fly in Canada and then put on a crazy hitting display in batting practice before Monday's game against the Rangers. My man isn't that big, but he was powdering the pill to all fields and displaying the explosive charge off the splinter that gets scouts excited.
Obviously, BP is not the real thing, but the kid stood out nonetheless.
In one final ray of sunshine, the American League West has been cooperating.
None of the residents has been able to grab control of the division. The Rangers, Anaheim Angels (sorry, Anaheim ain't LA), and the Seattle Mariners are all caught in the one-step-forward-two-steps-back waltz. So, despite the recent struggles, the A's still find themselves merely a loss off Texas' first-place pace.
Nevertheless, the Baseball Gods must relent if the Oakland Athletics are to have a chance at realizing their dream season. Sooner or later, somebody in the Junior Circuit's western group will rattle off a winning streak.
When that happens, the A's better be ready.
The disabled list must be cleared of critical components and those struggling pieces must cross over to the sunnier side of the street. Otherwise, the fat lady might come and go before August.
Of course, it might also help if I'd stop jinxing them...