The Monday Rundown

Now that I’ve emerged (somewhat) from my flu-driven fog from the weekend, I’ll say this. I have a newfound respect for the aches and sicknesses that athletes play through at times. Let’s get to the rundown:

Incredibly sad news about former Giants closer Rod Beck. Listened to the post game call-in show on KNBR yesterday, and to a man, folks wanted to talk more about Beck than they did about the Giants winning two of three from the Yankees. Not a surprise. Beck was a man of the fans, what with his less-than-perfect body, long hair and fumanchu mustache. He was one of the first baseball players I felt confident enough to talk with on a casual basis, because he was just so down to earth. My enduring memory. Watching Beck work out on an exercise bike in a hallway at Dodger stadium, cigarette in the corner of his mouth.

— The Giants series win says more about the Yanks than it does about the Giants. They remain a team with thin starting pitching (Mike Mussina threw slop, Roger Clemens is not the Rocket of old, and Chien-Ming Wang couldn’t protect separate three-run leads against one of baseball’s worst offenses), their bullpen is ordinary, and even their lineup hasn’t been great. They can forget about catching Boston, and they’re getting dangerously far behind the wild-card leading Indians, too.

— Speaking of being dangerously far behind, the A’s now trail the Angels by nine games in the AL West. They can probably forget about catching them, no matter what their second-half history may suggest. Wild-card is still doable, but it might not be in four days if they look as haggard as they did against the Mets. The A’s win by pitching and playing defense, and both phases of the game have been less than A-grade for the past week.

— Here’s how unusual the A’s performance in New York was this weekend? They hadn’t been swept in a series of three or more games in over a year.

Ken Griffey Jr.’s return to Seattle was a smashing success, and that struck me as ironic. My wife and I were driving through Seattle on a vacation back in the winter of 1999 when Griffey had been dealt to Cincinnati, and fans were ripping him all over the radio dial. Time heals, apparently.

— Who’s have ever thunk: Oregon State a college baseball mecca?