Pitching, Defense and the Three-Run Jimmy Jack...
Elephants in Oakland started in 2002 during the A's run of 20 straight wins. The concept was pretty simple - there wasn't another A's blog out there. It seemed an opportunity to put forth some ideas and observations I felt were lost in traditional media.
What's in a Name?
At the time Elephants in Oakland (EiO) started MLB was cracking down on any blogs, websites, podcasts, e-zines, granola bars or quiet conversations in the hall that involved "licensed and copyrighted names, logos or material of MLB or MLB teams". In short, if you wanted to write about baseball you had to come up with a name that did not involve your favorite team, post a logo of that team or in anyway provide free advertising or grow the brand of MLB. So, I chose Elephants in Oakland based off the A's singular mascot, the white elephant, and the proud but impoverished city that the team calls home. Years later MLB.com began offering fans their own blogs from their website. Go figure.
Official Home of the 'PLAYER TO BE NAMED LATER FAN CLUB'.
One of the more curious traditions of Oakland A's baseball was the banners that festoon the bleacher section in the outfield. There have been literally hundreds of different banners that have hung there in the last 40+ years. Most were based on A's players and very homemade. Often, even after a player was traded or otherwise left the organization the banner would still make a curious appearance on game days. The 'Player to be Name Later Fan Club' was a nod to this tradition. In part because the 'player to be named later' was a recurring theme in Billy Beane trades and I would never have to change the banner. There was talk of a '...AND CASH CONSIDERATIONS FAN CLUB' but that would have cost time and money that wasn't available at the time.
"It's Called Tough Love, Get Used to it."
It was a line uttered by Bill McNeil, a character played by the late Phil Hartman on the under-appreciated TV show, NewsRadio. It captures what the spirit, panache, theme, attitude, je ne sais qoui...whatever. It's how I approach Oakland A's baseball. I am often critical, brutally so, of the front office, manager, coaching staff, tv commentators, ticket takers, groundskeeping crew and players. I don't expect the A's to win every game and go 162-0. I expect the A's to find a way to win 163 games. I'm a fan, short for 'fanatic'. I root for the name on the front of the jersey (Oakland) not the back (player's last name). I care more about what is better for the A's organization than the feelings of any player or how fans feel about a player. Baseball is a results oriented business and game. So is life. Produce and produce well or find another occupation elsewhere. Sure, I have my favorite players like anyone else. But I temper that with things like statistics and reality.
Statistics as a Means to an End (of the Argument).
I am bound by the need for statistics and their meaning. Meaningful statistics. Not the curious trivia, but actual data that can drive decision making by a organization or manager. EiO is closer aligned to Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs than to ESPN.com and MLB.com.
Why are you yelling?
There is nothing more aggravating than listening or reading the ridiculous cliches, old wives tales and flat out lies regarding baseball. One of the worst purveyors of this tragedy is Ray Fosse, color commentator on Oakland A's TV and Radio broadcasts. Fosse is also guilty of being a 'homer'. Not the good kind of Homer that lives at 742 Evergreen Terrace in Springfield. No, Fosse is the kind of broadcaster who openly roots for the A's and defends all catchers. Fosse supports all decisions by the front office and the manager. Of course, Fosse can't tell you the what the difference is between a cutter, a slider or a change-up and a curveball. But he once got bowled over by Pete Rose...does that mean we need to be punished?