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Big League Stew

Detention Lecture: Your 2011 Oakland Athletics

Big League Stew

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As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to detain their squads for the equivalent of a Saturday morning detention stay.

Up next in our series is our new pal Ben Koo, who works for a few outlets — Bloguin, Awful Announcing and Koo's Corner as a way to avoid watching his Oakland Athletics.

All right settle down, A's. Everyone take your seats. Actually, Brian Fuentes, I am going to ask for you to sit in the corner facing the wall. No, it doesn't matter what corner. Don't pout because at least you're being spared the dunce cap. Those Berkeley types frown on it.

Where are Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Rich Harden? The doctor? Well that's a surprise.

No, I don't need another note from them. Two-thirds of my desk drawers can't be a damn filing system of doctor's notes from you guys. It wouldn't surprise me if those guys have their own coffee mugs at the doctor's office.

Where is Daric Barton? The gym? As in lifting weights? That's not even remotely believable. I would have bought a lot of stories, but I guess that's the best a guy who went on the DL for diving into the shallow end of the pool can come up with.

Hideki Matsui, I don't know what you just said under your breath, but I don't need your translator to figure it out. You're right, I am being a little mean today, but it's due to frustration and not anger.

You see, this was the year you were supposed to revert back to a balanced contending team and make a dent into the local media and fan monopoly honeymoon stemming from the San Francisco Giants' World Series win. Let's be honest, with cheaper tickets and cheaper beers, all you had to do is play up to your potential to get some of the "too drunk to watch the actual game" fans to cross over the other side of the bay for some games.

This happened instead: {YSP:MORE}

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Don't be like local fans who bemoan and blame the marketing, sales and promotions the club offers. Two-dollar tickets? Free parking? Dollar hot dogs? I know the Bay Area has a lot of vegetarians and people who don't use cars, but come on. The reason the place was two-thirds empty for half of the season is because you stunk up the joint.

The Punishable Offenses: Let me take my ulcer medication before I get going. Yes, I am being serious. Are you guys getting defensive all of a sudden?

Funny that only now you're going to get defensive, as you went the whole season mucking it up in the field worse than a coed softball team. With five errors to greet the fans who actually came out for opening night, you have the unique distinction of leading the AL in errors from wire to wire. I never would have thought a team could match every beer I drink at a game with an error in the field yet somehow you made history there as well. We looked at bringing on Tom Emanski as a consultant, but he saw one game, said you were all terrible and that he couldn't win a single AAU championship with your defensive abilities.

Coco Crisp, congrats on leading the team in steals AND batting average. It's odd to go to a stat leaders page and see a guy with a .267 average being recognized as your best hitter, but that's just a unique perk of being on a team with unspeakable offensive atrocities.

Matsui, David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Kurt Suzuki, you were sold to me as "the offense" but NONE of you could crack .250. I am not even confident that a staff full of All-Star pitchers and relievers could have done anything with the run support you provided.

Pennington, are you trying to sneak out? Caught stealing yet again buddy. Get back to your seat. You were also terrible this year, but I guess when the opening day first baseman, second baseman, and third baseman are all replaced for meager offensive production, you're almost considered a success story. The fact that I'm torn on if you're better than Bobby Crosby is mind numbing.

Matsui, some people thought you might be another savvy Billy Beane veteran bat pickup, evoking the memory of Frank Thomas. The reality was probably closer to Mike Piazza, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi and Eric Karros. I must have missed the chapter of Moneyball where other team's discarded trash should be the picked off the street and put in as the centerpiece of your offense.

The injuries, the defense, and the hitting were the factors of what brought you to me today, but the truth is that they're symptoms of a bigger problem.

The team camaraderie, clutch hitting, general enthusiasm, and sense of optimism that past A's teams were known for was non-existent this year.

A lot of it traces back to you there in the corner, Fuentes.

You guys played like you expected bad things to happen in close games, and I can't blame you. With Andrew Bailey out, the dunce in the corner was entrusted as our closer and before the calendar turned to July, he had eight losses including four appearances in row with an L.

Deflating I would imagine, but no excuse for the lack of energy and competitiveness you guys showed during the multiple lengthy losing streaks that was the cause of death for this season.

It's the "we're in over our heads" mentality that was the root of the 11-25 record against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers. What happened to not being starstruck and intimidated by the baseball power elite? The Yankees can't step on your mound, but they're free to trot the bases anytime they want?

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Partners In Crime: It's actually good we're missing some people, as we wouldn't have enough seats. Ten of you started at least three games on the mound and out of everyone, only two of you have winning records. I don't want to hear about the lack of run support or how big Josh Hamilton's biceps are.

Almost all of you have tremendous upside and often show flashes of brilliance. The only reason I continue to care and not disown you like the Warriors is that once or twice a week, you give me nostalgic flashes of Hudson, Zito, Mulder and Haren.

I know you're probably just as enraged as me about the errors and the lack of runs, but you can't just mail it in for one or two starts every month. There are almost two dozen losses that are solely on you, as you showed up for work and said, "Mama said there'll be days like this," and mailed it in. If you're not going to win, I'd like to sit there and watch the whole game and not turn it off midway through in agony, down by seven.

You guys had the talent to stop the bleeding and keep the team afloat, but alas, you succumbed to the weight on your backs. You're better than that.

Something To Build On: If you feel that I am being a bit harsh, I can give you the same spiel your parents have given you a thousand times. I just want you to do your best.

A healthy Andrew Bailey and Brett Anderson coupled with strong comeback years from Tyson Ross and Dallas Braden will likely move the team's pitching to potentially a top-five or at least top-10 position.

It remains to be seen if Willingham, DeJesus, Matsui or Crisp will be returning, and who will be manning the corner infield positions. Lucky for you guys, Jemile Weeks is a beacon of optimism in the lineup. The prospect of having a .300 hitter with 100 runs and 30-plus steals is something that should help us sleep better during the winter.

While the offensive potency of Mr. Suzuki is a hotly debated subject, I'm sure many of you are thrilled that he'll be back to handle, and if need be, coddle you going forward.

Shape Up or Ship Out: A lot of you yokels are out of here as soon as the bell rings anyways, so you're lucky that you can flounder or flourish away from my watchful eye. The majority of you are a combination of cheap and young, making you hard to throw away.

The reality of being in this room is that you're all replaceable. It's an endless cycle here in Oakland. You either contend and put butts in the seats or we blow it up and start over again with younger guys.

You were supposed to be a contending team that was born out of another Billy Beane selloff, but for the laundry list of reasons above, you've failed. Your employer has shown that nobody's job is safe, and that nobody is beyond the scope of a trade.

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I hope that you'll take this to heart and that this will put hair on your chest, as nobody is safe if you were to fall into a black hole of ineptitude once again.

Either way, I don't expect you back here one-way or the other. I hope for both our sakes it's the better outcome, as I'd love to see you succeed rather than begrudging disappointment in your efforts.

You're all excused now. Even you Mr. Fuentes.

Principal Ben Koo
Awful Announcing
Koo's Corner

Read more of Big League Stew's Detention Lecture series here.

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