Stephen
Washburn

Hitting Reset

As an avid Oakland A’s fan I’ve seen or listened to almost every single game in the last three years. Considering that their last losing month was in May of 2012 I’ve had a lot of fun watching all those games. The way the team was playing, even in the games they lost, they almost always felt like they could win even if they were down big.

Unfortunately the last month has been a very different story. The early innings of games were filled with weak groundouts, shallow popups, and flailing or staring strikeouts. Even behind excellent starting and bullpen pitching, giving up three runs or less, normally a safe bet for a competitive game, felt like an insurmountable hurdle. After leading the American League Western Division and all of baseball for most of the season, the A’s fell behind the Angels of Anaheim in both.

Last week I got to attend the third and final game of a series against the Angels - an awesome birthday prsent that came with babysitting from my awesome sister in-law and brother in-law. After taking the first two games it looked like the A’s might be turning a corner, but they ended up losing big, and it was NOT a fun game to attend… Fast forward a week and things got even worse - which I didn’t think was possible - after taking two out of three and being lucky to do so against the lowly Houston Astros, the A’s once again faced off against the Angels, this time in Anaheim. What followed was the lowest point in the last three years for me as an A’s fan1. After four straight losses, the streak of months with a winning record was gone, the once six game lead in the division had been flipped into a five game deficit, and something needed to change.

That’s when the calendar flipped over.

Yesterday with the start of a new month, a return home to Oakland, a serious talking to from the A’s remarkably calm and even keeled manger, and a holiday sellout at the Coliseum for a new series it sure felt like something had finally changed. I wasn’t supposed to get to attend this game, in fact the tickets to this game were a gift FOR the same brother in-law and sister in-law that had given us tickets. Before the game even started the feeling in the sold out coliseum was one of positive anticipation, and with some great defensive plays in center field by Sam Fuld the top of the first went quickly and entirely the home team’s way. Fortunately that was just the start.

In the bottom half of the first is when things really got started.

With one out, Josh Reddick hit a ball well to center field, frankly a ball that could have and maybe even should have been caught, but unlike the last month when those catches were being made, this one was misplayed and Reddick was standing at second base. After Josh Donaldson failed to drive him in the newest member of the team came to the plate. The rest as they say is history.

When the dust had settled, after a two run homer by Adam Dunn in his first at-bat as an Athletic2 and several other clutch two out hits, the A’s had knocked the Mariners starter out of the game and scored five runs. The rest of the game passed quickly (which considering the heat in the right field bleachers where I was sitting was definitely appreciated) and while there were a few opportunities to score more runs that were missed, including a runner at third with less than two outs, the team continued to play solid defense3. Then, when the Mariners got on the board with a solo homerun in the top of the sixth, the A’s countered with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth, again requiring two out hits with runners in scoring position.

Almost lost amidst the five run explosion in the first inning was the fact that Jason Hammel once again pitched an excellent game. Allowing only one run on three hits he continued where he left off last week after a strong start against the Houston Astros that unfortunately netted him only a no decision. After what happened to Jim Johnson this year, it certainly wasn’t ideal for Hammel to struggle so much at the beginning of his career with the team, but it looks like he’s turning it around and the fans were clearly supporting him. Which brings me to my final point.

Sitting in the bleachers in Oakland puts you amongst the most focused, determined, and loyal fans I’ve ever been around. These are the fans who show up early to hang all the pictures and banners of their favorite players along the outfield wall. These are the fans who bring their own banners4 which they wave emphatically in support of the team. And these are the fans who come up with chants and catch phrases for the players: for Eric Sogard its #NerdPower, for Josh Reddick its WWE and SpiderMan, for Stephen Vogt its the awesome I Believe in Stephen Vogt chant. Yesterday, in the hot late summer sun, with two outs, and a full count on the batter in the top of the 8th, fans all across the Coliseum stood and began chanting “Hammel, Hammel, Hammel”. It’ll take more than one game, more than even one series, to know if this team has successfully hit the reset button and returned to the consistent quality baseball of the last three years, but for at least one hot holiday afternoon sellout, things sure felt like they were back to normal.

At the Coliseum

  1. Even lower than back to back division losses against the Tigers…

  2. The twelth player in Oakland history to accomplish that feat.

  3. Sam Fuld definitely lived up to his ‘Super Sam’ nickname.

  4. Some with a number and what I presume is their own name.

No. 3 Gun Turret

No. 3 Gun Turret

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T2i
Exposure: 1/500 sec at f/9.0
Focal Length: 300mm
ISO: 250
Flash: Did not fire
LightRoom Preset: Direct Positive

This was next on my list of photos to share, and it seemed fitting to share it today, on the day we’ve set aside to remember and honor those who sacrificed everything to defend our freedoms.

The USS Arizona was one of only two ships not to be salvaged at Pearl Harbor. She lies today where she came to rest that day in December 1941 and is the tomb of about 1,000 men. This shot is of the sign labeling one of the few pieces of the Arizona which is above the waterline, the foundation of the ship’s No. 3 gun turret. A beautiful memorial was established in 1962 which rests over, but not on, the Arizona herself. If you get the chance to visit Hawaii, I know that many feel Honolulu is a tourist trap and not necessarily worth the effort, but I would humbly suggest that the opportunity to visit the Arizona and remember the men who served makes up for any perceived faults of Honolulu.

In honor of Memorial Day here are a few other pictures. The first three are from Pearl Harbor: the USS Missouri was the site of the Japanese surrender which ended World War II and she now sits as a museum, in a position to watch over the Arizona and her sailors (the white structure in the background is the Memorial and sits perpendicular to the Arizona).

The second three photos were taken at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. Its a beautiful cemetery that is obviously meticulously kept and treated with great respect.

There is no adequate way to thank those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country, but places like these are a step in the right direction and should help ensure that we never forget what they did.

Manifold

Manifold

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T2i
Exposure: 1/60 sec at f/6.3
Focal Length: 300mm
ISO: 400
Flash: Did fire
LightRoom Preset: Old Polar

Walking through the WWII submarine on display at Pearl Harbor I found myself amazed and impressed by the machinery. I believe modern submarines have numerous computer systems that are used to run diagnostics and ensure systems are functioning properly, but back then everything was mechanical and it was gauges like this one that were relied on. Having grown up in such a computer dominated world I’m fascinated and awed by the level of precision that was required in the engineering of machines like this, and also by the faith, confidence, and bravery of the men who climbed into these “tin cans” and dove under the waves to hunt their enemy in defense of our freedom.

I love lamp

I love lamp

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T2i
Exposure: 1/250 sec at f/5.6
Focal Length: 129mm
ISO: 1000
Flash: Did not fire 

This was one of the first pictures I took with the rented EOS Rebel T2i in Hawaii as I was trying to familiarize myself with the controls. I tried playing around with the settings in Lightroom, tweaking the white balance and such, but in the end I just liked the way it looked better the way it was originally shot. I really like the gradient on the wall.

EDIT: I originally posted this last night, but due to a bug in the way my posts here get published to Facebook and Twitter it didn’t get published THERE because I posted 6, 7, 8 too quickly afterwards.

6, 7, 8

6 months

7 months

8 months

Better late than never, this posting of several months at a time is becoming a bit of a tradition…