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Bay Area Baseball

Such Is Life

There's no easy way to say this: "your" San Francisco Giants ain't what they used to be. I took in Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Brewers and Monday's 5-3 loss to the Padres, and it was like night and day compared to last year. Gone are the walk-off homers, fireworks and all but two rubber chickens. All that's left is the annoying seal, three-hat monte and the cable car races (which are rigged.) As I write this Monday night, the Giants are 3-10 against teams not based in Colorado, with 41 runs scored and 69 allowed. Kirk Rueter and Brett Tomko are as bad as ever. Jerome Williams is back in Fresno, and just five players under 30 are on the active roster: Noah Lowry, Tyler Walker, Yorvit Torrealba, Lance Niekro and Jason Ellison. Without Bonds, this team has nothing special going for it, and the 10,000 empty seats at SBC Park show that the fans know it. Until something changes, I won't write anything more about the Giants.

The A's are a little better, though their attendance is just dismal. Just 10,206 fans showed up to watch Barry Zito face off against the league-leading Chicago White Sox. Could it be because the A's haven't scored in 22 innings? Or that Zito has brought his ERA down to 6.60? At least Rich Harden has been extremely effective, Danny Haren has been average, and Joe Blanton has been lucky. Six-sevenths of the bullpen has been good, with Juan Cruz allowing more than half of the runs for the entire unit. The hitting has been hit and miss (swing and miss?) with all but Mark Kotsay and Marco Scutaro the only A's playing above expectations.

In the absence of interesting and exciting games, I've been looking at small miracles. Pedro Feliz has shown brand new plate discipline, with a walk every three games a rate that would make him an acceptable major league hitter and not just the second-coming of Tony Batista. Marco Scutaro, acquired very much for his plate discipline, showed little of it last year, but after not-so-gentle prodding from A's management, he now leads the teams in walks. On the other hand, Nick "walks are my middle name" Swisher has just two free passes in more than 60 plate appearances after leading the minor leagues last year.

So that's where this season is at. I'm paying attention to who's showing better plate discipline. There are no five-game winning streaks to get excited about and no tape-measure home runs on the highlight reels. Such is life.