* It’s finally here, Opening Night for the A’s. It doesn’t get much better than that for me as a sports fan.
* Yes, it sucked getting swept by the Giants in the final three spring training games of the year but the starting pitchers looked sharp and no one got hurt and that’s the most important thing to take into April.
* Kind of funny what a difference a few days makes. When news broke that the A’s effort to buy 860 AM was falling apart right before the start of the season, Twitter was alive with people ripping ownership and anticipating the potential shame of a radio-less season for the club. But now we’re sitting here on the verge of the first game of 2011 with a new 4-year radio home for the A’s at 95.7 FM with a better signal in the East Bay than 860 AM could ever deliver. The only thing I have to complain about is being exposed to country music if I tune in a little too early for a game.
* The top three things I’m optimistic about heading this season with the A’s: Brett Anderson having a healthy, dominant year, Gio Gonzalez taking the proverbial “next step,” Daric Barton showing some more aggressiveness and driving the ball when he gets ahead in the count.
* Three things I’m worried about heading into this season with the A’s: That damn injury bug rearing its ugly head, painfully dull manager Bob Geren shooting himself in the foot, Hideki Matsui’s bat speed which reportedly looked painfully s-l-o-w in spring training.
* One of the nice parts of the season finally starting for the A’s is that it helps push the franchise’s uncertain ballpark situation into the background. I love following other A’s blogs and Twitter feeds but after a while there’s nothing more tiresome and frustrating than reading about Lew Wolff, San Jose, Victory Court, territorial rights, redevelopment agencies and Bud Selig’s impotent Blue Ribbon Committee. Wake me when a final decision has been made and a shovel is finally hitting dirt at a ballpark site somewhere. My blood pressure can’t handle every annoying twist and turn in this drawn-out saga.
* Speaking of the A’s ballpark situation, Biz of Baseball’s Maury Brown makes a depressing prediction that by the end of the season MLB will still be dragging its heels on this issue. That wouldn’t surprise me one bit but it’s still a downer. Selig and his cronies need to get off their butt and make a call on the A’s future.
* I’ve missed hearing Ray Fosse get all excited about HD broadcasts on Comcast. Glad to have you back pal. I bet you’re going to love the return of yellow jerseys in Oakland.
* While I’m writing about A’s broadcasters I’ll take a moment to say that I still sorely miss Bill King.
* I know this is getting way ahead of things, but who the heck is going to be on the field for the A’s next season? I’m serious. Just look around the diamond and for the most part all you see are guys on 1-year deals. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Mark Ellis are only signed through this season. Same goes for the starting outfield of Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus. Designated hitter Hideki Matsui won’t be wearing green and gold in 2012 either.
If prospects such as Chris Carter, Grant Green, Jemile Weeks, Stephen Parker, Michael Taylor and Adrian Cardenas make major strides this season in the minor leagues you could see a lot of kids in white shoes playing ball in Oakland next year.
One way or another general manager Billy Beane will have a boatload of money and roster flexibility to play with when he heads into the offseason.
* Speaking of Chris Carter: Free Chris Carter! The man has nothing left to prove in Triple A and he has more raw power than anyone on Oakland’s roster. If the A’s really want to duke it out with high-scoring teams like the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees and White Sox in the American League they need Carter’s bat somewhere in the lineup.
* Anyone else getting tired of seeing occasional updates on how Rich Harden is doing? We’ve been through this before and it never seems to get better. He’s healthy for about 20 minutes and then he’s hurt for about 3 months. Repeat that a couple of times and you have a typical Harden season when he’s wearing green and gold. At least this time around in Oakland he’s just a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation and the last seat in the bullpen so a season spent on the disabled list won’t kill the team’s chances to make a run at the AL West title.
* If this ends up being Marl Ellis’ last season with the A’s I hope they can make it to the playoffs one more time so he goes out a winner. The guy is a total class act and the best second baseman of his generation to never win a Gold Glove. If Oakland’s out of the playoff picture when the trade deadline rolls around Beane should send Ellis to a contender so he can play in some meaningful games down the stretch. Philadelphia already looks like a perfect fit if Chase Utley keeps limping around on bad knees.
* Dallas Braden, still as entertaining as ever.
* And now, for your viewing pleasure, a little inspiration from the past: