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COHN: A's come up empty on opening night

  • The Oakland Athletics line up during opening day pregame festivities before their game against the Seattle Mariners in Oakland on Monday, April 1, 2013.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

OAKLAND - So, this is how it began for the Oakland A's, a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners. Starting pitcher Brett Anderson struck out the first four batters but lost his location in the top of the fifth, unable to throw strikes. He gave up two runs and that was enough for Felix Hernandez and the Mariners.

Anderson is only 25 and he is the A's best starter and he came back last August from Tommy John surgery. He can throw fast and he can throw slow always with a high leg kick and a perfect follow-through. And the A's are careful with him and took him out after seven and replaced him with Chris (Bebop) Resop.

We must talk about tradition for a moment. Baseball's opening night is all about tradition, about the start of the long season, a narrative teams write day by day. For opening night, the A's put the bunting across the facing of the lower and middle decks, and for opening night the A's sold out the old place, standing room only.

And for opening night the A's had left the small yard in Phoenix and came to the big building next to Highway 880 and they had something to defend — their 2012 American League West championship.

Before the game, A's manager Bob Melvin said opening day "always has a playoff feel to it. There are more nerves on opening day."

And he said the mind-set for the opener is, "Go out there and take something from somebody." Not that the A's did any taking Monday night.

Linger over the idea of opening night — or opening day in most cases. Every other sport merely has the first game, but baseball has the opener. It means a door is opening and no one knows what is on the other side, where the long corridor leads and what's at the other end. But everyone wants to find out. It means something new is starting but this new thing reminds us of something old, older than we are.

The opener reminds us this is the A's 46th season in Oakland, a place they want to leave and can't. It reminds us the Oakland A's have won four World Series and 15 AL West titles.

And it reminds us only nine players on this year's roster were on the team opening day 2012. Ten others were on the team at some point last year but didn't suit up for the first game. Only seven current players played for the A's before last season. People come and go around here.

And there is something else and for this pay attention. Coming into Monday night's opener, the A's had lost eight openers in a row. That's a lot of losing. Call it a tradition of a sort. Losing the previous eight openers tied the Washington Senators (1963-1970) for the longest opening-day losing streak in American League history.


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