Monday, July 27, 2009

Adieu Mr. Holliday

he following is written by David Kamoe, a life-long sports fan whose sister is a close friend. David is an avid A's fan, wen to to high school with Drew Gooden and can't believe that Giants commentator Mike Krukow used to refer to the right-centerfield expanse at Pac Bell Park as "Finley Alley," referring to Steve Finley who remarkably wore a Giants uniform for a season. David will likely be stopping by these parts a few times a month, so treat him right. And no sister jokes.

As news came across ESPN's ticker that the A’s had traded Matt Holliday to the Cardinals for 3B Brett Wallace, OF Shane Peterson, and RHP Clayton Mortensen, it wasn't something unexpected. Frankly, when the news came across the proverbial wire, my first thought was, “Well, about time.”

When the A’s traded Greg Smith, Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Alan Embree to the Rockies for Holliday in the off-season, I had mixed emotions. Gonzalez and Street were both two good young players with Street having been the 2005 Rookie of the Year. Smith was an up-and-coming lefty who was victimized by a lack of run support and Embree was a journeyman out of the bullpen. I didn’t think about the A’s not keeping Holliday through the end of his contract. Every media outlet did that. I just watched him play and wanted to see how good he was up close and personal.

At various points during the season, I felt as though Holliday was “lollygagging” on some plays. I can’t prove this any more than I can prove Newtonian theories. When it came out that Holliday had done a radio interview during which he said he’d like to be “on a contender,” I resented it. I understand that in the modern baseball era, players will think about getting moved in order to improve their chances of winning a ring. What got me was that Holliday never seemed to be trying to hide it.

Even during the A’s comeback against the Twins on Monday, even after hitting a game-tying grand slam, he seemed non-plus. Listening to Holliday be interviewed on the A’s post-game show, I had it crystallized. He sounded very much as though it was just another game. Now I know that he had played a crazy game with the Rockies against the Marlins where the Rockies and Marlins played a Coors Field special that ended something like 19-17. The fact is that when Holliday hit the grand slam and afterward, he seemed bored.

The old adage is: “Act like you’ve been there before.” Even if Holliday had been in a similar situation once, “Get excited!” as puppet Lebron James said. Maybe I’m too naïve, maybe I expect too much out of athletes. I just like to think that an athlete is capable of being overcome with emotion when something unexpected happens during a game, match, etc.

As usual, Bill Simmons on ESPN expressed this idea well, although he did in terms of the Red Sox. The 2009 Sox, he noted, were like Timothy Hutton’s girlfriend in Beautiful Girls. “A good solid seven and a half” but nothing that stood out. The A’s equivalent of this is Miguel Tejada. Miggy was an open show of emotion at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, I’m sure this pissed off various opponents and that he should have been more reserved. Holliday’s problem seems to be that he was only reserved.

And now he's back in the National League. Where he belongs.

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