Spezza Spezza Spezza!!! I will have to get 2K8 when it comes out. Well, I still have to get 2K7 first. You know what would be awesome? If they had samples of Spezza's bleating lamb laugh just... everywhere in the game. Like every time you select an item from the menu, *bleat* *bleat* Or when they pan over the bench *bleat* *bleat*
Watched the Home Run Derby yesterday. I think my favourite part was them using those super high frame rate cameras to film the guys hitting home runs, like the kind they used in Planet Earth to film the great whites leaping out of the ocean to eat seals in South Africa. There's just something really beautiful about it. Umm, hitting home runs. Well, the sharks too. :P
More Dan Haren articles. Har.
Haren likes his delightful surprise
Susan Slusser, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Blown away by the notion that he had been named the American League's starting pitcher for tonight's All-Star Game at AT&T Park, Dan Haren was considering swiping a souvenir off the news conference podium.
"I want to take the little name placard thing up there,'' the A's right-hander said to a bunch of reporters after the official announcement was made on Monday. "This is so cool.''
Haren is appearing in his first All-Star Game, and he is pitching right across the bay from where he usually plays.
That's one reason AL manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers selected Haren -- he liked the idea of giving a local pitcher the honor. Had the game been at Cleveland, C.C. Sabathia might have been the choice, Leyland said, or Justin Verlander might have pitched at Detroit. The fact that Haren works in Oakland helped clinch things for the AL's ERA leader. Leyland called it "a nice little touch.''
Haren, 26, lives year-round in the Bay Area, too, making his home in Walnut Creek. He was thrilled just to make it onto the AL squad -- starting the game is a delightful surprise.
"I know there were a lot of deserving candidates,'' he said. "I could never imagine sitting up here and getting the start so close to Oakland, where I reside. ... Oakland A's baseball isn't out there much, so it will be great to wear the gray uniform with 'Oakland' across the chest and represent the organization.''
The opposing manager is more than familiar with Haren. Haren played for Tony La Russa in St. Louis before coming to Oakland in the Mark Mulder trade.
La Russa said Monday that his pitching coach, Dave Duncan, was such a fan of Haren's that his trade nearly caused a rift in their relationship.
"He was very adamant that Dan be part of St. Louis' future,'' La Russa said, mentioning especially how much competitiveness and toughness that Haren showed as a rookie with the Cardinals. "But make no apologies; we got Mark Mulder and he had a big first year for us. But we really liked Dan. Dave loved him. We're really happy he's had success.''
La Russa won't make it easy on Haren, no matter how fond he is of his former pitcher. La Russa said Monday that he is batting Barry Bonds second specifically to give the opposing starter something to think about right away.
Haren's response: "I'll try to keep (NL leadoff man) Jose Reyes off base.''
Bonds is 4-for-12 against Haren with five walks and one home run during the regular season. Haren recalls the home run, sort of. He thought it was career blast No. 720 for Bonds, while it was actually 719.
"I remember the whole thing,'' Haren said. "It was a 3-0 pitch and I made a mistake and laid one in there and he got me. I'll never do that again. I learned from those mistakes.
"He's obviously a tough out, and I think I'm just going to try to keep the ball down and away probably, but, you know, the scouting reports sort of go out the window --
"I'm sure my adrenaline will be pumping.''
In something of a neat twist, Haren is following in Mulder's footsteps in starting for the American League. Past Oakland All-Star starters: Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Dave Stewart and Bob Welch.
"It's a tribute to the A's, the GM and the organization,'' Haren said. "Obviously, they know where they're doing. I never thought I'd be in this situation.''
Oakland general manager Billy Beane turned that sentiment right back around, saying, "This is a testament to Dan Haren and how great he has been for us this year. He has turned into an unquestioned No. 1 starter. This is no surprise -- it's well deserved.''
A's manager Bob Geren had spoken to Leyland recently, lobbying to get Haren the start. Told that Haren will get the ball, Geren said, "I'm really happy for him. His work ethic is incredible and he had a real desire to be our No. 1 pitcher -- I know I'll be watching the first pitch now. I'm really looking forward to it.''
Haren gives catcher Jason Kendall a lot of credit for his success this year, but Kendall said by phone Monday, "I just make suggestions. He's the one making the pitches. This is awesome, good for Dan, he should be very proud.''
No mention of Zito! *gasp* Also, "delightful surprise" sounds really dirty. :(
All-Star Game: Before delivering a pitch, A's Haren hopes to end up with autographs
By Joe Stiglich
A's pitcher Dan Haren will be running with some elite company over the next two days. He doesn't know many of his American League All-Star teammates, so he's a bit uneasy, but he intends to make the most of this experience.
"I'd like to get a couple of things signed, some memorabilia," he said recently. "I feel really uncomfortable going up to people, even on our team, asking for autographs.
"It's going to be tough, but I think I'm just going to have to swallow my pride for a second. It's two days that I'll never forget."
Few deserve their place Tuesday more than Haren, a 10-game winner and the American League's ERA leader at 2.30. It seems no one will appreciate it more either. This is what Haren mapped out for himself after last season, when he knew Barry Zito was likely to leave Oakland as a free agent and a new staff leader would need to emerge.
A's Manager Bob Geren was deliberating on an opening-day starter when he had a conversation with Haren during spring training.
"When he revealed to me what his goals were and what he wanted to do, and how long he wanted to do it, that helped influence my decision," Geren said. "There's something about an ace. It's like being a closer. You have to really want to be that."
It raised some hackles when the A's traded Mark Mulder to the St. Louis Cardinals for Haren, reliever Kiko Calero and minor leaguer Daric Barton before the 2005 season. In hindsight, the A's could have come out ahead getting only Haren. The right-hander won 14 games in 2005, and 14 more in 2006 - Mulder won 22 in that time - and at 10-3, he should top the 16 Zito won last season.
"I think we had a group of guys who were willing to step up with Barry leaving," A's assistant general manager David Forst said. "But Dan's performance has allowed him to really step out front and be the guy. He's got the personality to do it, where he doesn't have to be the most vocal guy. But you watch the way he goes about his business, and other guys immediately respect that."
Haren, 26, dedicated himself to a strict off-season conditioning and throwing program, which allowed him to hit the ground running when spring camp opened. His improvement has been obvious to opposing hitters.
Seattle's Richie Sexson, asked the difference in Haren, said: "I think his ability to throw any pitch in any count for a strike. He'll throw you a 3-1 slider, when a lot of times (in the past) he might give you that fastball to hit. Now you just don't know exactly what he's going to throw."
Sexson said he doesn't know Haren, but he appreciates his demeanor.
"He doesn't show anybody up when he competes. That's important from the other side, that you don't have a guy that's out there being cocky," Sexson said. "You get a lot of guys coming up thinking they've got the game licked. He's not like that."
But Haren is intensely competitive, A's catcher Jason Kendall said. One of Kendall's biggest challenges is getting to know the personalities of his starters - who needs a kick in the rear, who responds well to advice during a game.
"Half of the time I don't need to tell him anything," Kendall said. "It's his third full season, but he acts like he's got 15 years in."
That poise might go out the window as Haren tries to mesh with his All-Star teammates over the next two days. While speculation grows about whether A.L. Manager Jim Leyland might pick Haren to start the game Tuesday, Haren just wants to soak up the experience.
He has already instructed A's photographer Michael Zagaris to snap a shot of him with New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter perhaps in the background.
"I'll definitely be in awe," Haren said. "It's going to be cool when I get on the mound with the defense that's on the field behind me. I think that's probably going to be the coolest part."
There's that Zito mention. Aww, fanboy!Haren.
Speaking of Zito, the official player representative for the All-Star FanFest, he bailed to go meditate and chat with his dad in SoCal. Swisher's going to replace him today, heh.