Early Spring Indications

OK, lets start with the positives

Rich Harden shows that the stuff is still there. Notching up the K’s. Just hope he can stay healthy throughout the season. If so we could see some seriously stellar numbers from this guy.

Bradley, needs to produce to this level regular season, especially with MK’s absence due to the back op

Scoot, best backup in the league.

Piazza seems up for it, swinging the bat well in early spring.

Buck and Barton would appear to be pushing for late season places if there Sac form is up to something

Negatives.

Joe Kennedy. Two starts, two blowouts. Not what I wanted to see from this guy, who I believe should be the A’s 5th starter.

Chavez – Slow start, apart from last season no news there.

Johnson – Here is someone that needed a good spring and the early indications would indicate there are still some issues to be resolved. Does this mean the possibility of Durazo at first, or will Swisher get all his playing time there instead of the OF

Kotsay. Ouch, that hurts, makes the acquisition of Shannon that much more important

Embree, Gaudin, Street, Witasick all with 0.00 ERA’s which despite being recorded over too small a number of innings to count for anything, still bodes well for the bullpen

In the Shop

Captain America is dead! Not so big a deal when you realise that Marvel will find some way to bring him back in the near future

The comic adaptation of Se7en gets better and better. Retelling the story from the perspective of both the killer and the victims, it  acts as a nice companion to the film.

Ran a Warmachine demo in the shop last weekend, and although weathe rkept the turnout low, I can’t stress how impressed I am with this game. The system is great, figures are to die for, history of the world setting is well fleshed out but best of all sales are terrific. I played my first game of it and I am really looking forward to getting more involved.

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Spring Training – Game 1

Spring Training – The coaches know what they’re looking for where as those of us that only see box scores just see the numbers. Which always leaves a few of us wondering at some of the opening day 25 man squads. This year I’d say the batting lineup is fairly well fixed, although there are some real questions to be answered with regards both the bullpen and the rotation.

Seeing Kotsay jetting off for second opinions about his back hasn’t filled me with confidence either!

Spring Training, Game 1 @ Brewers: L14-8
Scutaro 2-3 (3B, HR, 4RBI), Merloni 3-3 (2B (2))
Halsey 2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 SO
Gaudin 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 SO
Apart from Flores the less said about the other pitching, particularly Windsor the better

In the shop we had the concluding part of Civil War Frontline which actually finished up being as good as Civil War, especially considering Civil Wars weak ending.
We also had the concluding part of Neil Gaiman’s Eternals.

My pick of the week however was the latest issue of Ron Matz’s The Killer

Spring Training

OK, so Spring Training is here again. Time for those not expecting to be on the roster come opening day to make a bid for a place.

The players I’m most interested in seeing over the pre-season games are
Dan Johnson: Last year-Sophomore Slump? Eye Problems? or rookie year flash in the pan?

Erubiel Durazo: The Holy Grail – Great numbers in winter league, will he challenge for a place?

Crosby/Ellis: Can they produce the numbers they are capable of, or will niggling injuries plague them once again.

Joe Kennedy: Here is a guy who I believe could become our #3 starter, rather than the current talk about whether he’ll make it as the #5

In The Shop
It has been all go with my partner, Jayne, trying to complete a refurbishment of the shop in four days. I’ve been at home looking after the kids so I have no idea what to expect when I go back to work on Thursday.

Boy, Have I been Lazy

How long since I last posted.

We were two and a half games back then, and have since taken a lead in the division (at one point  eight and a half games, currently five and a half).

Frank Big Hurt has continued to be the biggest steal of the year with regards contract. Who’d have thought we’d see a nigh on 40HR season and a lock in 100RBI season from the veteran. Chavvy gradually seems to be getting his stroke back, albeit without his usual power and the pitching (ignoring the starters in the last six outings) have been stellar. Loaiza in August…ouch!

I’ve taken the opportunity to watch a few more games recently, whenever the time difference has allowed me to get to bed prior to 5am. The team appear to have a ‘buzz’ about them reminiscent of when we made the playoffs with Giambi and co a few years back. The difference being this year being more of a team effort rather than a handful of stars.

The shop has been busy, although I’ve taken a few weeks off from running YuGiOh tourneys now the kids are back at school.

Comics to look out for:

Phonogram#1:
OK, heres another title that I’m not sure in which direction it is going to go. We have lead character, David Kohl, who has a ‘magical?’ ability to manipulate people that appears to tie in to music. He designates himself as a phonomancer.
The issue details his visit to a predominantly female frequented music venue, with his intention primarily to get laid. The visit goes horribly wrong, due to his encounter with ‘the goddess’
It looks like Image may have a bit of a sleeper hit with this one as is dead original and fresh.
And to help out those not aufait with various indy bands, there is a convenient glossary of terms at the back of the issue.
Worth a look, and there aren’t many Image titles I’ll say that about (Walking Dead, Invincible and Sam and Twitch beinvg the exceptions)

The Creeper #1 and #2
I loved Steve Niles’ work on 30 days of night and here we have him taking up the reins of a ‘lesser’ DC title. He really seems to have nailed it with regards getting inside the head of both the Creeper and Jack Ryder. I’m left waiting in anticipation for the remaining 4 issues of this mini series.

The Boys #1 and #2
Garth Ennis at his best. The title to out preacher Preacher. Hard Hitting, dark, funny, brutal.
Go read it!

Civil War Delays
Civil War #4 and all related titles have been delayed till the 20/09/06. The best selling title in the shop and we get a 5 week delay. Add in the fact that the backlash is the Marvel rack is somewhat thin, this hurts. However all will be forgiven if Marvel meet the re-scheduled date and it continues in its top notch vein.

Change of Fortune?

Alot of things give me reason to be optimistic. The A’s have bagged six of the last 8 to move back within 1 game of a .500 record, 2 1/2 back from Texas. During this change in form a number of things have given us reason to be pleased. Thomas gives hitting roundtrippers, Dan Johnson appears to be getting some form back.

And then we come to Loaiza. I know its only one outing but his control the other night was awesome. I watched the game on mlb.tv and couldn’t believe how good he looked. HIs gameplan is simple, and with the speed of his fastball back up to 88-90, his cutter and changeup were now effective. He spent the whole game ahead in the count and to be honest cruised through his seven innings.

Streets stuff has seemed crisper over his last couple of outings and hopefully Kiko Calero is turning into a good setup man.

We were at the Yankee stadium last night with Haren facing Johnson. I watched up to the rain delay and we looked good despite the makeshift lineup. No Chavez, no Johnson, no Ellis, no Crosby. Rouse making his debut. Throughout the game Haren looked good exceptg for his high pitchcount. He ran into trouble by loading the bases when he was pulled, with teo outs but Gaudin bailed him out.

Ph_425452 Rouses ML debut will be one for him to remember, with him going 3-3 with a walk. Way to go minor league journeyman!

If we can stay with Texas with so many of our starters, both in the bullpen and starting lineup, oh yeah and Harden (back on the DL after 1 outing), then we should theoretically run away with it if we can get them fit again.

Away from Baseball I was happy to see that a strategy game that I thought had died, Battletech, is still alive and well with a different publisher. However it does mean that I’ve got a ton of publications to buy from the years that I’ve missed thinking it was now defunct. Looks like I can get my Kuritan forces out again, not sure when I’ll get the time to paint any new miniatures thoughDraconis_combine_logofull

In the comic shop, Civil War from Marvel , continues, quite clearly with the intention to surprise. It would appear that Spidey is going to unmask (way to go Russell for predicting this an age ago). Civil War Frontline looks like it’ll be a good title not just a riding the gravy train publication.

And finally I couldn’t go without mentioning the world cup (soccer). Basically we’re now going to be subjected to weeks of loutish behaviour, excused under the guise of patriotism. I’ll be pleased when its all over. On a better note though, I can watch the A’s on MLB.TV whilst the England game is on.

Count on Z

Ph_217096_1 Zito continues to pitch through May in the same vein he pitched the latter half of last season, top notch. His efforts, combined with a few of the A’s connecting with the lumber (we bagged 12 hits), meant the seven game skid is at an end and our streak now stands at W1.

The last thing we needed was to be staring down a win-loss ratio looking like last years, where despite an amazing run in the latter half it was always too little too late.

The new sign has arrived for the shop and my father-in-law will be fitting it tomorrow, which’ll be great, as the shop will now officially be The Grinning Demon, rather than Whatever Comics.

Hopefully I’ll have photos once its mounted.

Reading: Nothing, sorted a load of old 80’s Marvel stuff though, which’ll find its way to the sale bins.

Music: Mainly cheesy rock power stuff, was feeling nostalgic, so was listening to Heart, believe it or not.

Speed Bump becomes a hill

Now its seven straight with the A’s letting slide a lead for the second night running, however there are still positives considering how beleagured the bullpen is with injuries etc

Positives: Chavez fielding and batting / Thomas raising his average (finding his groove?) / Zito (back on the mound tonight (lets hope he gets the run support)

Negatives: Street, Johnson and recently Swisher suffering from Sophomore syndrome / Harden being out / Loaiza *******/ Injuries

Comics: Not much reading done in the last two days as the shop has been hellishly busy. Read the second issue of Skye Runner #2, the jury is still out, although the retailer incentive of issue #1 looks cool (Jim Lee)Skyerunner01_lee_1

Music: Listened to Bjorks Debut for the first time in an age, had forgotten just how much I like it. Although its not everyones cup of tea. Images_1