Oakland Athletics: Women in baseball, ALDS or bust

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 12: Boog Powell
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 12: Boog Powell /

Each day I’m tasked with providing a fan’s perspective on all things Oakland Athletics.

I watch the games. I soak in as much commentary, blogs, write-ups, podcasts, and television exposure as I can. If it has the Oakland Athletics name on it, I take it in.

I do it because I love the game. I write because, for me, it’s cathartic and presents the opportunity to share my baseball perspective with like-minded fans.

Today, I’m going to take a bit of a different route with this blog. We’re going to get to the A’s and the starting rotation issues that presented themselves in Houston, but first I feel compelled to talk about a dark cancer that plagues the game that I love.

If it’s not your cup of tea, I understand. Simply move down to the first subheading and you’ll be right into the baseball speak. If on the other hand, you believe the game of baseball should be free of blatant bias and discrimination, please, continue reading.

I watch and write about baseball because I have a need to be a part of something bigger than myself. It’s not just about the A’s, or even just about baseball. It’s about the people we watch on the field. It’s about the people we meet and talk to in the stands.

It’s the life stories we wrap ourselves up in. It’s about the connections we make with others. Baseball is it’s own culture, and like any culture, you must be accepted into it.

I’ve been accepted. Ashamedly, I was born into it. I’m a male and I’m white. I can freely write or talk about baseball and as long as my insight demonstrates a working knowledge of the game, the only opposition I’m met with is a differing opinion.

This isn’t everyone’s story though. Far from it in fact. Deep within the fabric of our game lies an archaic, unjust belief that a woman isn’t intelligent enough to understand or write about a “man’s game.”

For Emily Waldon, and other female journalists in baseball, being experts in their field, even today, doesn’t buy them an uncontested seat at the table .

Waldon is a National Prospect writer for The Athletic (MLB).  Late last night she posted a series of tweets detailing her journey into following prospects in the lower levels of baseball.  Those tweets can be read in their entirety here. Below are excerpts that illustrate the contemptuous nature some men in and around baseball still have towards women.

Death threats… and along with them messages degrading Waldon for being a woman and having an educated, well-founded opinion in a man’s world. It’s misogynistic and highly repulsive to me. It creates a conflict on a personal level because I have difficulty embracing a game that doesn’t reflect the ideals and morals with which I live my life.

I’ve never met Waldon.  I know her body of work. I read her articles. She is an excellent storyteller full of insight about the game I love. Her colleagues have left comments on her Twitter feed indicating she is full of humility and works harder than most.

I also know she’s chosen to dig around in the shadows of Minor League Baseball in order to bring prospect stories to light. Being a minor league player is a brutal, harsh experience at times. I can only imagine that being a writer in this arena is equally as difficult.

Today, this blog serves as my effort to call attention to the inequality women face who choose to live out their baseball dreams.  Imagine being good enough, or better than most, at your craft and still be discounted simply because of your sex. It just doesn’t cut it anymore. It never did.

Taking a risk and working hard is enough. That’s all anyone, male or female, of any race, should be measured by. We can do better. We must do better.


The Oakland Athletics have to win the division. And I don’t mean in the context of being a crazed A’s fan saying “I’ll die if we don’t win the division.” I mean, if our team, as its currently constructed, is to make any headway in the playoffs, we must win the division. We need the forgiveness a best-of-five series would provide us.

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A single elimination Wild Card game is simply too risky without a true ace on staff. I’m not unhappy with the way the Athletics played in Houston, but it was clear the Astros exposed weaknesses in our starting rotation. None more prevalent than the lack of a stopper.

Over the three game series at Minute Maid Park, our starting rotation pitched the following innings:

Brett Anderson – 2.2 innings pitched

Edwin Jackson  – 4.2 innings pitched

Trevor Cahill      – 3.1 innings pitched

The Astros hit us hard and they hit us early. The Oakland Athletics road-map to victory is dependent upon starters throwing five to six manageable innings until the strength of our pitching staff, the bullpen, can take over and lock down the game.

It failed to happen even once during this three game stretch and we lost the series. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a worse three-game performance from the starting rotation this season than what we witnessed in Houston.

Throw in a possible season-ending injury to Sean Manaea as well as Brett Anderson hitting the 10-day disabled list and the ship appears to be taking on water.

If the season were to end today, the Oakland Athletics would play one game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium for the right to move on to the American League Divisional Series.

The Wild Card 1-game playoff is a heavyweight fight where each team marches out their shutdown ace. For the Yankees, Luis Severino will be on the mound. For the A’s, it would have to be Mike Fiers taking the ball at this point.

Severino has made twenty-seven starts this season. Sixteen of those starts are of the QS (quality start) variety. Over 165 innings pitched Severino has blazed to a 3.27 ERA, 3.10 FIP, and averages 10.3 strikeouts over nine innings.

On May 8th of this season at Yankee Stadium, Severino held the Athletics to one earned run over six innings pitched in a game the Yankees would win by a final score of 6-2.

Severino is a true ace, he’s the stopper that our rotation lacks. His velocity on his fastball actually increases during a game.

I’m not saying that Mike Fiers doesn’t have the stomach to walk into Yankee stadium and hold the Yankees offense until Trivino, Rodney, Familia, and Treinen can take over.

What I am saying is that as an Oakland Athletics fan, the 2014 Wild Card game against Kansas City is still fresh in my mind. I can’t handle another one-game heartbreak. I don’t want to see this journey end simply because Sevy shuts down our offense ONCE.

We don’t have a starting pitcher who can match Severino throw for throw.  Winning the division and securing a five-game ALDS series where the strength of our bullpen can shine over a several game stretch is the only option.

28 games left

As is normally the case with this blog, and as so many of you are quick to point out, it isn’t productive to criticize our pitching staff without also providing a solution. How do we win the division?

We are really late in the game here. The waiver trade deadline is tomorrow at 11:59 PM EDT but General Manager David Forst has already told Susan Slusser it’s a “really difficult time of year to add from outside the organization.

That leaves one option. The starting rotation must do better. They have to start pitching deeper into games.

Daniel Mengden and Frankie Montas have been brought up to take the spots of Manaea and Anderson. This is no longer a drill. It’s the real thing. A playoff race in September, in Oakland. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, both for the players and for the fans. Each of them needs to hit the ground running.

If the starting rotation doesn’t come through once the calendar flips over in two days, the bullpen will be overworked heading into the playoffs. That’s a consequence we can’t afford.

Next. New stadium plans should feel all too familiar. dark

The work begins tonight as the Athletics take on the Mariners for four games at the Coliseum. The M’s are currently five and a half games back of the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card spot. Let’s see if we can do some dream crushing of our own.