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Elman Swings
by Peter Elman

The Future is Now - 01/25/2001

It’s a cold rainy Thursday in late January, one of those rare Oakland days where you want to stay inside. I’ve turned my sprinkler off now that the mini-drought is over, and as I prepare for my annual parents’ meeting—I’m a little league coach for the fifth year—my mind drifts to another drought, the one the Athletics have been living with since 1989, when Eck (God I miss him!) ran to first base and, fittingly, made the final putout against our cross-the-Bay rivals. Next time maybe an earthquake won’t taint the victory, huh?

Hey, the Raiders gave us a thrill this year, and old Al, although not entirely off our s--- list, is certainly not at the top of it, where Eddie D., Bud Selig and Don/Chris Nelson/Webber, who ruined our Warriors (God give Dave Cowens strength) reside.

My baseball-crazed buddies are all asking the same question—will we sign Jason, or will he emulate some of his more selfish peers and hold out for a better deal? I sure hope not. All indications are that the MVP loves it here, and wants to be the one holding the trophy high next October. I can’t imagine Billy B. brought in Johnny Damon just to watch “G” jump ship. Beane is way too smart for that, right? Let us pray.

So, what exactly are we—the longtime A’s faithful—looking at in 2001? Plain and simple, the Championship. Not just conquer the AL West, which has seen the Angels lose Mo Vaughan and fortify their lineup with Jose Canseco (are they nuts?!), the Rangers who, despite giving A-Rod the bank still have horrible pitching, and the Seattle Mariners, who are simply not worthy of a pennant. Not just the American League—although payback to the Yankees will be sweet. You’re gonna tell me that the Mets or the Giants or some NL pretender is gonna take out the A’s? As Al says, just win, baby—this year.

But wait, how about all those lingering question marks, like the fifth starter, second baseman, right fielder, DH, or God forbid, a big injury to, let’s say, Miguel Tejada? Let’s all take a deep breath and count our blessings, or, in this case, our options. Omar Olivares is not that awful, and how about all these young arms the A’s picked up in trades? Surely there’s a number five in the bunch. Even if Jose Ortiz isn’t ready this year, Beane has Miguel Cairo, a seasoned pro, in the wings. As far as right field, does anybody doubt that Adam Piatt can crush the ball? And he bats from the right side, thank you. Believe it or not, John Jaha is numero uno on the depth chart at DH, and Olmeido and Jeremy are right there if Big John’s feet aren’t made for running.

Don’t pencil the Athletics in for 100 wins yet, but if we get through spring training reasonably healthy and the MVP signed, sharpen up the old #2 and get the lead out. We’re loaded, for Chrissake! Last year we were done in by one inning, an abomination that will not happen to a more confident team this year. Getting rid of Ben Grieve was a masterstroke, and getting Damon was utter genius, even if it is for just one year. Those of us who have seen him up close when he was with the Royals know that this guy is an athlete—strong, fast and tough. And like all serious jocks, he wants to win, a lot.

Whoops, time to go to that parents’ meeting and preach the gospel-- baseball is upon us!

by Peter Elman