Athletics

Baseball the cool kids at the party for now

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Baseball the cool kids at the party for now

Its about mood and feel. Its always about mood and feel. In the Bay Area, it has always been about finding the coolest party, and right now, with all due respect to the opening of the NFL season, the coolest parties have baseball players running around on the dance floor.In one of those happy coincidences, the San Francisco Baseball Associates Limited Partnership and the Oakland Athletics Baseball Company are both neck-deep in pennant races for the first time in a decade, and even for outsiders whose allegiances arent already compromised by either other teams or chemical objections, they are as fun a diversion as there is in an area thick with them.And while this has been, is, and will always be a football-first area when all things are equal, all things right now are frankly not that equal.The 49ers are coming off their most rewarding season since 1981 rewarding because the best kind of championship is the surprise championship but its been a long time since they plied their trade in a real game, and excitement must be rebuilt slowly. The Raiders are so new that they may as well have moved to town from Jacksonville. The field is awfully crowded for Cal, Stanford and especially San Jose State, and has been for years. The Warriors are two months away, and the Sharks four, at the very least. The Earthquakes have the best record in MLS, but its MLS while the best European teams have begun their seasons so traction is a problem.In the meantime, there are the SFBALP and OABC. Their season has been compressed to one month, and even allowing for the more languid pace of baseball, nothing beats the adrenaline of daily results. The NFL is mostly buildup, but a pennant race is constant stimulation that the 21st century cannot help but embrace.You know, like every party that didnt involve a table and playing Cards Against Humanity with your sedentary and drunken friends.This may smack of a generation-past argument, but September baseball that matters is hard to beat. And to get it twice at the same time is the whole reason to have two teams close enough to argue about mythical territorial rights.Every game matters now in ways that 49ers-Cardinals could only hope to pretend to replicate. Every argument lasts only as long as the starting pitcher does, and every pitching move either exposes or extols the manager. No guess is not seconded, no move is too small to bitch about, and every inning comes with its own legal amphetamine supply.Counter that with one game, once a week. Two days, tops, of agonizing over the events of the game just done, three or four days of time-wasting (Hey, what do think would happen if Colin Kaepernick had Green Lanterns power ring?), then a day of discussion prep for the next game.This schedule shortens in November and December when the games become more important, but in September, football is mostly the opening act, when even the genuinely unwatchable teams havent been eliminated yet. Baseball in September is the headliner.And with any luck, we will go through September with four or five teams in each league in the race until the end. Front-running is dull, unimaginative, cheap and weasely. Daily uncertainty is better, and the chaos of multiple scenarios is best of all.So party down, kids. Football will always be there the NFL has seen to that. But for a month, baseball comes through us. Thats why two teams are better than one, thats why the As and Giants must coexist no matter what the Giants might want, and thats why every passing day makes us all cooler than the day before.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

Ryan Christenson has worked his way up the coaching ladder in the A’s farm system, and on Thursday he was named the team’s new major league bench coach.

The announcement makes Christenson, 43, the right-hand man for manager Bob Melvin and essentially the No. 2 man in the dugout. It also settles a position that was in flux over the course of the 2017 season. Mark Kotsay began this past season as bench coach but stepped away from the team in June to be with his family after his daughter, Sienna, suffered a serious eye injury.

Kotsay is expected to remain with the big league club in some form of non-everyday role. Chip Hale finished the season as bench coach but will now switch back to third base coach, a position he originally was hired for leading into the 2017 season. Hale also coaches Oakland’s infielders.

“At some point in time we knew Ryan was going to be here,” Melvin said. “He went through all the classifications (managing in the minors). He did well with a young group. It’s a good fit bringing him in, and he’s ready for the bench coach role. He’s done a lot of managing.”

Though the bench coach works in closest tandem with a manager throughout the game, Melvin also noted the importance of having a third-base coach that thinks right along with him and is on the same page. From that standpoint, he said having Hale in that role is important.

“Chip’s so good at third, that even though I’m used to having him on the bench, it’s tough not to use him (at third),” Melvin said. “Certainly this isn’t a demotion for Chip.”

It’s the first appointment on a major league staff for Christenson, who has spent the past five seasons managing in Oakland’s farm system, starting with low Single-A and working his way up to Triple-A Nashville this season. He led Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League titles in 2015-16, and his teams went 391-307 (.561) over those five seasons.

The rest of Melvin’s coaching staff will return intact in 2018. That includes pitching coach Scott Emerson, who took over that role midseason after the firing of Curt Young, and hitting coach Darren Bush. Like Christenson, Emerson and Bush both were promoted from within the farm system to their eventual spots on the big league staff.

All three men have extensive history coaching the large group of young players that are establishing themselves as the A’s core, and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the makeup of this staff.

Emerson, who assumed Young’s duties in June, will return as pitching coach despite the A’s staff posting a 4.67 ERA, highest by an Oakland staff since 1999. A’s pitchers also surrendered an Oakland-record 210 home runs.

“Similar to Ryan, he knows everybody, what we have here and in the minor leagues,” Melvin said of Emerson. “He’s been a good fit here and continues to be a good fit.”

Bush oversaw a group of hitters that showed improvement as the season wore on, scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League after the All-Star break. The A’s set a franchise record for strikeouts – in line with the rise in whiffs throughout the majors -- but also hit the fourth-most homers in franchise history.

Melvin’s staff is rounded out by first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach/catching coach Marcus Jensen. Steve Scarsone, who filled in as interim third base coach from June through the rest of the season, will resume his duties as a traveling instructor throughout the farm system.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts.