Covid-19 Creates Unprecedented Societal Chaos

The global outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic that began in Wuhan China and has since spread world-wide has killed over 30,000 people so far, thus causing all sports and everything else in world-wide societies to be shut down for the foreseeable future. It has led to mass hysteria and chaos among people all over the world.

Due to the super contagious and rapidly spreading nature of this respiratory virus, families are being forced to stay at home and all non-essential businesses and education institutions have been shut down. My mom’s job as well as my sister’s and my colleges are currently operating via remote meetings and learning as a result.

In addition, this time of the year is normally one of the most exciting times for sports fans in the US and elsewhere.  The NBA (National Basketball Association) and NHL (National Hockey League) are usually finishing up their regular seasons around this time and professional baseball players are beginning their anticipated new seasons in America, Korea, and Japan. The English Premier League Soccer and American professional soccer is also often in-season now. Unfortunately, due to the deadly nature of the virus, all these professional sports leagues seasons have been postponed with no imminent plan for how and when they will restart.

Amateur athletes are also getting affected by Covid-19. Since the 1940’s, The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championship is played every year in the month of March which is where the phrase “March Madness” comes from. It has become a tradition for college basketball fans around the US to fill out their bracket predictions that are always never completely right due to the NCAA tournament’s propensity for upsets often featuring small-schools like Loyola-Chigago beating the more well-known schools such as Duke and Kentucky. Due to the unfortunate circumstances that this pandemic has created, this year’s tournament was cancelled for the first time since 1939, robbing teams like Dayton who were wanting to continue their miracle season. Not only that, but all collegiate athlethic conferences cancelled all spring sports, ending the seasons of baseball, softball and track athlethes abruptly. Spring athlethes may have a lifeline though as the NCAA is considering whether to offer an extra year of eligiblity to spring athlethes whose seasons were affected by coronavirus. Both Division I and II athlethes have already been granted an extra year of eligibility.

The summer Olympics were supposed to happen in Tokyo later this year, but in the past week or so, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) agreed to postpone the global games exactly a year in hopes that the coronavirus will go away by then.

Last Blog For a While

As I will be flying back up to school to start my sophomore year at Seattle University on Monday, this will most likely be my last blog post for a while.

The Oakland Athletics have managed to position themselves as one of the teams most likely to grab one of the two American League wild-card spots. They enter tonight’s final home series of the season in the first wild-card slot two games ahead of both Tampa Bay and Cleveland. The crazy thing is that the A’s have done so well this year despite their bullpen having blown 29 saves, the most in the American League. Their starting rotation has stepped up though, and in the process taken some of the pressure off of their inconsistent bullpen sans Petit and Hendriks. It could be fun watching the A’s overpowering offense and improving pitching go up against either the Astros or the Yankees if the A’s are able to win the wild-card game this year.

On the other hand, the San Francisco Giants will miss the playoffs in what is legendary manager Bruce Bochy’s final season. Bruce Bochy recently got his 2000th career win as a big league manager which further adds to his hall of fame credentials.

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Buster Posey is no longer the same threat as a hitter as he was before his serious hip surgery.  He is not the only Giant who hasn’t lived up to fans hopes this year as the Dodgers ran away with their seventh straight NL West division title. However, the Giants do have some promising young hitters in their farm system who they think will be essential to their next contention window.

In other news, the Cal Football team is off to a 4-0 start that has them ranked in the nationwide AP poll. Their elite defense has carried them to this great start led by superstar middle linebacker Evan Weaver and a talented secondary.

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On the other hand, the Cal offense, led by second year quarterback Chase Garbers, has not improved much at all from last year. They did stage a great two-minute drill drive to upset UW two weeks ago, but last week they were only able to score 23 points against a North Texas defense that had gotten shelled in the weeks prior.

Stanford is off to a surprising 1-2 start which could be because they have had to deal with a brutal schedule starting their season by playing Northwestern, USC, and then UCF.

In the NFL, the 49ers are off to their first 2-0 start since 2012, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger just suffered major injuries, and the Antonio Brown saga continues with new drama every day.

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Drew Brees

Last but not least, I want to mention my twin sister and her fellow players on the Wesleyan University Woman’s soccer team. They are off to a surprising 3-1 start that has featured an upset over nationally ranked (and 2018 NCAA Division III champion) Williams College, and a game in which they absolutely destroyed an inferior opponent scoring the most goals in one game in program history.  They look to keep their strong start going this weekend with back-to-back games against two NESCAC teams.

 

The A’s Could Be Good for a Long Time

This week, the A’s began their week-long Texas road-trip with a huge four game series against the first place Astros by showing their incredible resiliency and offensive potency. After getting blown out 15-0 in the first game of the series, the A’s rebounded yesterday by returning the favor annihilating the Astros 21-7. Every member of the A’s starting lineup got at least two hits and drove in at least one run. Winning by 14 runs after losing by 15 the night before set a major league record. With the series now tied a game a piece, the A’s must win tonight to at least earn a split of the four game set because their longtime nemesis Verlander will pitch for Houston tomorrow. With the win last night, the A’s  continue to occupy that second wild card slot. However, they will need to keep winning the majority of their remaining games if they want to fend off the Indians and reach the postseason.

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Khris Davis and Mark Canha

I predict that the A’s will finish the season as one of the two wild card teams and will not only play but beat either the Rays or the Indians in the wild-card game. The A’s have the players, coaches, mentality, and perseverance that is needed to make a deep run in these upcoming playoffs. However, their starting pitchers must continue to produce quality starts and some relievers in addition to Petit and Hendriks will need to emerge as consistent options if they are to get far in the playoffs. Sean Manaea is the team’s X factor right now given how dominant he has looked in his first two major league starts since coming back from shoulder surgery.

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Sean Manaea

The A’s present is bright, but so is their future. Matt Olsen and Matt Chapman have emerged as two of the best players in baseball at their respective positions. This year, both have over 30 home-runs to go along with their excellent defensive play. They are under team control for 3-4 years to come and are prime candidates for extensions. Marcus Semien is another candidate for an extension given that the Bay Area native has firmly entrenched himself as the team’s leadoff hitter while having a career best season. Ramon Laureano has proven that last year was not a fluke, establishing himself as one of the core parts of the A’s offense as long as he can stay healthy. Sean Murphy, considered  the A’s catcher of the future, is quickly becoming the A’s catcher of the present thanks to the huge impact he has had since coming up. In his very first start, he hit his first home-run and caught a shutout, and then last night he hit two of the A’s six home-runs.

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On the pitching side of things, Manaea, Luzardo, and Puk along with Bassit and Montas could be a killer starting rotation if Luzardo and Puk can live up to their top prospect billing and Montas can show that he can still be good without using PEDs. As this blog has shown, now is a good time to be an A’s fan. So, in the words of the A’s TV announcer Dallas Braden, “Sit down and buckle up!” It promises to be a good ride to the end.

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Jesus Luzardo

 

 

 

A’s Final Push for the Postseason

Labor Day signifies the  final month of the regular MLB season. That means that for teams fighting for a playoff spot like the Oakland A’s, their performance in these final twenty or so games could mean the difference between making it to the postseason or coming up short.

September is usually an epic month of baseball thanks to multiple postseason spots often going down to the wire. For instance, in the A’s miracle run in 2012, they clinched a wildcard spot and then won the division the following day in what was the last series of that season.

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A’s 2012 Team

However, people who say that baseball is too boring or the games are too long often point to this month as evidence. During September, teams are allowed to expand their active roster from 25 players to as many as 40. Thus, teams frequently use this opportunity to bring up a couple of their MLB-ready, highly touted prospects as well as more pitching depth causing dugouts and bullpens to overflow with players. Managers, having more relievers at their disposal, often resort to multiple pitching changes in one game, which can make the game feel boring to those who prefer the constant action of a sport like basketball. However, this is about to change.

Since taking over as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred has focused on trying to quicken the pace of play. As part of this effort, this year is the last year in which teams can do mega roster expansion; next year teams will only be allowed to expand to 28 players in September. I think that this is a good rule as it will limit the amount of game breaks that come with pitching changes and will help ensure that those who get called up actually get to play rather than just coming to the big leagues to sit on the bench.

The A’s started off this critical final stretch with a win last night beating the Angels 7-5. Contributing to their success, Seth Brown continues to exceed expectations since he was brought up last week,  with two run-scoring triples in his Coliseum debut last night. This is a guy who came from some super-small school in Idaho and was not on any of the A’s top 30 prospect lists ever in his career; yet, this year he absolutely demolished Triple A pitching and is continuing to rake at the plate now for the A’s.

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Another new face to know is catcher Sean Murphy who would have likely been called up earlier had he not had some knee problems this year. His elite catching ability and power at the plate is why the A’s are so high on him. He will get a few starts in September and then could emerge as the A’s starting catcher next year if he stays healthy.

These new faces will certainly help as will the returns of injured outfielders Ramon Laureano and Stephen Piscotty. Laureono is expected back sometime this weekend against Detroit, while Piscotty’s return is far more uncertain. The A’s have managed to cope with the absence of two-thirds of their starting outfield thanks to the breakout play of Mark Canha who has filled in in center and right admirably while also contributing at the plate. Khris Davis breaking out of his season-long slump would also make the A’s more dangerous, although they have been able to stay in contention without the power production from him that they had gotten accustomed to. This is largely thanks to the consistently stellar offensive and defensive contributions of the two Matts–Olson and Chapman, and Marcus Semian. However, the A’s will not go far in the playoffs unless they get more consistency from at least one, but hopefully all three, of Trevino, Treinan, and Soria. Petit and Hendriks have been unbelievable this year, but they need help. If neither of the former three find their groove, the A’s could put one of their starters in the bullpen so that Manea can go into the 5-man rotation, or they could bring up Matt Harvey and/or Jesus Luzardo (their top pitching prospect) to see if they can be of help. Either way, the tight wildcard race between the Indians, Rays and A’s promises an exciting few weeks of baseball.

 

 

 

The Brutality of Football

A few days ago, Andrew Luck, the 29-year-old starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, shocked the NFL by deciding to abruptly retire. When Luck first entered the NFL as the number one overall pick of the Colts, he was seen as a generational talent who could succeed Peyton Manning and help lead the team back to the playoffs. Andrew Luck’s early retirement is just the latest example of an NFL player bowing out of the league earlier than expected due to the severe physical toll that one experiences playing football. In the first few years of Luck’s career, the Colts failed to provide him with a decent offensive line. Unblocked defenders thus were able to get constant bone-rattling hits causing Luck to develop a harrowing injury history. Given  this list of injuries, along with the fact that he has a Stanford degree and has made a whole lot of money in his career, makes his tough decision seem a little simpler. Football players put their bodies on the line every game in order to wow the fans and help their team win the game. However, at some point as Luck realized, your health is more important than your job. The Colts fans did not seem to realize that as they booed him walking off the field for the final time.

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The brutality of football is also noted in the fact that running backs have an average shelf life of three years largely because of how many times each game they get tackled by 200-350 lb men while running the ball. This often leads to injuries that can cause a decline in their strength and speed, which are the two most important attributes for a running back.  Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired following his Patriots’ Super Bowl win earlier this year, also came forward today saying that he had to have a liter of blood drained from his quad as a result of a hit he took in the Super Bowl. He, like many other NFL players, was able to make a mega impact on the game despite numerous injuries suffered. The fact that concussions are up, CTE has been discovered to be real, and youth participation in tackle football is down does not bode well for the future of one of the most popular sports in America.

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A’s Current Homestand

The Oakland A’s have an impressive record of 71-53. Over the past few weeks, they have been playing good baseball keeping themselves right in the thick of the wildcard race. The A’s current homestand, which began this past Thursday, is arguably one of the most important and challenging of the season given the teams they are facing  (Astros, Yankees, and Giants) and the fact that any loss coupled with a Rays win would push the A’s farther back in the wild card hunt. 

The Astros came to Oakland these past four days to kick off the potential season-altering homestand. The A’s, who prior to the series had not had much success against Houston this year, changed that narrative by winning the first three games of the four-game set. They won each game in a different way. On Thursday night, the A’s outslugged the Astros 7-6 in a game that felt like a home run derby. Each team bombed five home runs, but it was Matt Chapman’s tie-breaking and game-winning home run in the bottom of the 8th inning that was the most significant. Normally in Oakland, the ball doesn’t carry as much due to the marine layer and overall cooler temperature than other places. However, the weather on Thursday night was significantly warmer than most Bay Area nights which might explain why there were so many home runs. On Friday night, the A’s managed to win a game in which their longtime pitching nemesis Justin Verlander started. Recently acquired Tanner Roark held the Astros mostly in check and the A’s, in turn, got to Verlander for two solo home runs. Giving up home runs has been Verlander’s lone weakness this year. The game dragged on and on until finally, in the 13th inning, the A’s broke the 2-2 deadlock on a Robbie Grossman walk-off single–the first of his career. The following day, the A’s knocked around a pitcher making a spot start for Astros co-ace Gerrit Cole who was out with hamstring tightness. Amazingly, they managed to score eight runs and win 8-4 despite not hitting a single home run. To illustrate how much the A’s rely on the home run to win games, the win on Saturday improved their record to 3-26 for games in which they don’t hit a home run. Unfortunately, despite a Semien home run in the bottom of the 4th, the A’s came up short yesterday failing to complete the four-game sweep of arguably the most complete team in the American League.

Tomorrow, trailing the Astros by 7 for the division and the Rays by 1-and-a-half games for the second wild-card, the A’s will welcome the Yankees for a three-game series. It will be the first meeting for these two historic franchises since the Yankees defeated the A’s in last year’s AL Wild Card Game. The Yankees, whom many believe are the Astros’ main competition in the American League, have had a fantastic season despite getting no contribution from big-money injury-prone slugger Giancarlo Stanton and injured ace starting pitcher Luis Severino. Despite losing one regular after another to injury, the Yankees just keep on winning. It will be another tough series and thus another chance for the A’s to prove that they can beat a potential playoff opponent while keeping pace or hopefully passing the Rays for that second wild card.

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To help out the bullpen, today the A’s promoted their 2nd best prospect: left-handed pitcher AJ Puk. Puk, a 2016 first-round draft choice out of the University of Florida, is a classic power pitcher who throws an upper 90’s fastball complemented with a nasty slider. Puk pitched well in spring training of 2018 and was expected to make his MLB debut last year, but unfortunately had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He has been rehabbing from surgery in the minors as a reliever to conserve his innings, but is expected to return as a starting pitcher next year.

I’m looking forward to an exciting series and hope fellow A’s fans show their support by packing the Coliseum to cheer on the green and gold the next few days. 

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AJ Puk

Bay Area Sports Update

With the number of sports teams in the Bay Area, there is always something interesting going on.

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This past decade has witnessed unprecedented success by the majority of the Bay Area sports teams. The San Francisco Giants were the most successful team in the major leagues the first part of this decade bringing home three World Series titles within a five-year span. The San Jose Sharks have been a perennial Stanley Cup contender; yet, despite making it to the playoffs every year including the final in 2018, they have failed to capture the prize. The Golden State Warriors have been the best team in the NBA the past few years. They have won three titles in the past five years thanks to the most loaded roster in the NBA led by the Splash Brothers (Curry and Thompson) as well as Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala.

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The Oakland A’s have sandwiched a couple years of last-place finishes between their current run of success that began last year and their success from 2012-2014. The 49ers almost won the Super Bowl in 2013 thanks to Harbaugh and Kapernick, but have not had as much success since then, while the Raiders have not had much to celebrate about at all this past decade.

Currently, the Sharks and Warriors are in the offseason. Both teams came up short in the playoffs this year. The Warriors specifically were affected by the injury bug which many believed gave the Raptors the slight edge in their upset of the Warriors for their first-ever NBA title. They lost Durant to a torn Achilles and then Thompson tore his ACL.  Now, many people are saying that the Warriors dynasty is over given that Durant left for Brooklyn in free agency and Thompson will miss the first few months of the season because of his injury. Yet, I still think that with Curry, Green, a healthy Thompson, and new addition D’Angelo Russell, the Warriors will be able to remain one of the top teams next year.

The 49ers and Raiders have started training camp and preseason games in preparation for the upcoming season. The 49ers are already starting to experience injury issues which was a major problem for them last year. Nick Bosa (the #2 overall pick and younger brother of Chargers’ Joey Bosa) has come down with a fairly severe high ankle sprain that puts his status for the start of the season in doubt. The Raiders, in addition to being the featured team on this year’s Hard Knocks, are having to deal with drama surrounding star wide receiver Antonio Brown who is refusing to play with a new helmet and reportedly suffered frostbitten foot in cryotherapy treatment.

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The A’s and Giants, on the other hand, are in the stretch run of their regular seasons. After a subpar first half of the season, the Giants have the look right now of a 500 club. However, they are only 3 games out of the second wild card slot so they can not be counted out of the race yet. That said, it will not be easy as they are crunched in a crowded group of National League teams that are all within a couple of games of each other.

The A’s not only have a better record than the Giants, but they also have less competition for a playoff spot. The A’s are mainly competing with the Tampa Bay Rays and whomever between the Indians and Twins winds up in second place in their tightly contested fight for the AL Central division lead. As a fan, I hope that the A’s can continue to win games, make it into the playoffs, and actually advance in the playoffs this year. They could become an even better team if they get pre-injury Khris Davis back, find a more consistent option than Profar at second base, get last year’s versions of Trivino and Trienen back, and receive positive help from Manea, Luzardo, and Puk, three very good left-handed pitchers recovering from various injuries.

 

Life, Society, and Sports Update

Over the past two weeks, I have been away from home on vacation. First, I visited my grandparents in Houston where we went to an Astros-A’s game, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, and a couple of theatre productions. This past week, I went with my family to the Lair of the Bear Cal alumni family camp in Pinecrest, CA. At the Lair. I spent a lot of time outdoors and with other people, but had just enough internet access to keep tabs on the sports world and the rest of American society.

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Many NFL and college football teams’ training camps have just gotten underway the past couple weeks. The first NFL preseason event that took place last week was the annual Hall of Fame game that accompanies the induction ceremony for the newest elected members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

However, it was the MLB trade deadline that dominated the sports headlines, especially in the final hour  this past Wednesday. There was relatively little notable action until the last few minutes when the Astros pulled off a stunning trade with the Diamondbacks to acquire Zach Grienke. Grienke is in his mid-30s and owed a lot of money over the next few years, yet he is still one of the top pitchers in all of MLB. The Astros, with their potent offense and the addition of Grienke to their current top three pitchers–Verlander, Cole, and Miley, makes them even more of a favorite to win the World Series this year. I predict an  Astros vs. Dodgers championship series as they are the two best teams in baseball. That would be an exciting repeat from two years ago when the Astros prevailed.

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The Braves were another big winner last week as they fortified their bullpen by trading for two very good relievers. The Giants did well in getting rid of some superfluous middle relievers while managing to keep their two biggest pitchers on the team to help them push for a wild-card spot. The A’s traded for Tanner Roark, another dependable starting pasitcher who is quality most times out and should help them down the stretch as they try to secure a wild-card spot for the second year in a row.

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The Yankees, widely believed to be the Astros main competition in the American League, were strongly looking at trading for a starting pitcher to address their biggest weakness. However, much to the dismay of their fans, they failed to make a single trade for a top-tier starting pitcher.  The Twins also did not make as sizable a splash as they could have, especially considering that the red-hot Indians are closing in on their division lead. The Indians also made an excellent trade getting back needed outfielders in exchange for hot-headed star pitcher Trevor Bauer. A big reason why the trade deadline felt so anti-climactic was because teams like the Giants (Madbum and Will Smith), Rangers (Mike Minor), Tigers (Matt Boyd), and Mets (Noah Syndergaard and Zach Wheeler) kept their big-name players rather than trading them for prospect-rich returns.

In other news last week, the second democratic debate series took place. I did not have access to TV but sense that I didn’t miss much as the ridiculous number of candidates continued to cannibalize each other. However,  toward the end of this past week, the debates were completely overshadowed by the three mass shootings in Gilroy, CA, El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Mass shootings are becoming so commonplace in our society;yet, despite the majority of Americans calling for more severe gun control, no change seems to happen. I strongly hope that sooner than later, Congress will pass some form of stricter gun control. I also hope that our current president will acknowledge his role in fueling the white nationalism and targeted hatred and violence at the root of these mass shootings. Until then, we will continue to live in fear and MLB trades will seem increasingly inconsequential.

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MLB Trade Deadline 2019

While the action on the field is continuing to heat up, especially when it comes to the pennant races for the respective divisions and wild cards, off the field news is headlined by all the trade rumors pertaining to the upcoming MLB trade deadline. This year, the one and only trade deadline will happen on July 31st. Any trades announced past that day will not be accepted. This differs from years past in which MLB allowed for August waiver trades to take place.

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This year has so far seen fewer trades in the July days leading up to the deadline than in the last few years. The A’s are one of the few teams to have already made a deal. They traded for veteran pitcher Homer Bailey from the Royals. Bailey isn’t anything special at this point in his career. In fact, this past Monday, he got absolutely shelled by the Astros who are now leading the A’s in the division by 7 games.Yet, the A’s are still hoping that he can give them quality innings down the stretch.

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Homer Bailey

Pitching is once again the hot commodity for teams like the A’s, Yankees, Braves, and Astros who are seeking to reinforce their teams for the playoff push. Seemingly every contending team could use a fresh arm whether it be in the bullpen,  starting rotation, or both. Lucky for them, there are some rebuilding or underachieving teams who have some prime talent to sell on the block.

Ken Giles of the Blue Jays, Shane Greene of the Tigers, and Will Smith of the Giants are the three most likely impact late-inning relievers to be traded at the deadline. If teams are looking for soon to be free-agent starting pitchers, they will likely focus on Zach Wheeler of the Mets or Bumgarner of the Giants. However, in modern-day MLB, teams increasingly prefer controllable assets. Some controllable pitchers that might be traded are Stroman (Toronto), Boyd (Detroit) and Bauer (Cleveland).

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Madison Bumgarner
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Marcus Stroman

The Giants present an interesting case given that, after a mediocre first half, they have been one of the hottest teams in baseball the past few weeks. They have rocketed into the wild-card picture complicating their trade deadline plans. Now the Giants front office is faced with the tough decision of whether to keep their closer (Smith) and ace (Bumgarner) to attempt to make a playoff push, or trade them in order to get a huge prospect haul that will help reshape the future of the franchise.

The A’s have already made one minor trade, however, they still have major pitching questions. I highly anticipate that they will make a trade for a relief pitcher given that their bullpen has regressed a bit from last year. Their two previous stalwarts–Trivino and Treinen–are still trying to find some consistency as both are sporting ERA’s above 4. A’s head of baseball operations Billy Beane has already traded for one starting pitcher, but given that it remains a weakness, he might also try to reel in one of the bigger names mentioned above.

 

 

Recap of the All-Star Break and Look Forward to Second Half of Season

This week has been the annual all-star break for Major League Baseball teams. This year, the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby were held in Cleveland at the home of the Indians. The atmosphere was festive and electric as it is every year at these annual events. This past weekend also showcased the future of professional baseball. The first-ever High School All-Star game was held on Saturday consisting of the best baseball players in the 2020 class. Then, the Futures game, featuring the top minor league players across all 30 MLB organizations, was on Sunday. The Giants had their top two prospects Joey Bart (catcher) and Heliot Ramos (outfielder) partake, while the A’s representative was super-fast shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo. Mateo, acquired in the Sonny Gray trade a few years ago, is having a great year so far at Triple A. As a result, he is likely to make his major league debut sometime before the end of the season. 

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Jorge Mateo

The youthful infusion of talent carried over to the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. The Home Run Derby on Monday night featured eight of the brightest young sluggers in baseball. Each superstar put on a show in front of the Cleveland crowd; however, a few stood out the most. Going into the event, everyone was excited to see Vlad Gurrerro, Jr. of the Blue Jays and Pete Alonso of the Mets, and boy did they not disappoint. Vlad Jr. is not only the son of Hall of Famer Vlad Gurrero, but also entered the season as one of the most hyped prospects ever since they started ranking and analyzing young talent. Pete Alonso has been one of the few good things for the Mets so far this year as the rookie slugger has already hit an impressive 30 home runs. These two young stars met in the final with “Polar Bear” Pete ultimately prevailing after Vlad got past second-timer Joc Pederson in an epic semifinal. Braves’ phenom Ronald Acuna also impressed with his performance. Overall, the sheer number of home-runs hit in the 2019 Home-Run Derby reflects the homer-happy current state of baseball. 

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Last night in the All-Star Game, the American League came out on top 4-3 winning for the 7th year in a row. Most of the players wore #45 pins in tribute to recently deceased active pitcher Tyler Skaggs.  Also, in the 5th inning, there was a special moment of appreciation for Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco who is fighting leukemia. 

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The All-Star Game further showcased all the special young talent that is sprinkled around MLB these days with many players from both leagues (Bellinger, Yelich, Acuna, Bregman, Chapman, Trout, etc) likely to be All-Stars for many years to come. The SF Giants’ representative Will Smith (reliever) didn’t fare so well giving up a home run to Rangers’ fearsome slugger Joey Gallo on the first pitch he threw. From the A’s, Liam Hendriks gave up a home run but otherwise struck out the side in his one inning of work.  Matt Chapman drew a walk, scored a run, and played some innings on defense in what is likely his first of many All-Star appearances. 

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The second half of the season begins on Friday. Expect the Giants to trade some major players to bring back young talent for their rebuild. Unlike the Giants, the A’s are in the playoff hunt. So, I hope that not only will the A’s continue to play well so that they can have a chance to make the playoffs, but also that they reinforce their starting pitching and maybe their bullpen in some way. This can either be through trading for a pitcher like Tanner Roark, or getting a positive contribution from guys such as Sean Manea or Jesus Luzardo if they are able to come off of the injured list at some point down the stretch.