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Welcome to the Witching Hour

Clock just struck midnight, and if that doesn’t get your heart pumping for some ball, you must be in bed. Not here at Midnight Madness headquarters, however. The A’s open the 2008 regular season against the Boston Red Sox in about three hours. Joe Blanton on the hill against Daisuke Matsuzaka in a series that apparently has all the feel over there of Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals.

One underlying question regarding Matsuzaka is how long will he pitch. He pitched complete games regularly during his days in Japan, but had only two in his first U.S. season in 2007. His return home is probably the same as you could expect if Elvis walked back into the building, so he’ll be nasty. No doubt about that.

Anyway, if you’re up, chat at me during the game. If not, read all about it here when you get up this morning. In the meantime, since it is Midnight, time to update the Bay’s Ball brackets from last week.

HOME RUN DIVISION

1) Barry Bonds’ 756th home run (2007) d. (8) Mark McGwire’s upper-deck home run off Seattle’s Randy Johnson (1997) [There's only been one 756th home run, after all]

(5) Will Clark’s career-starting HR off Nolan Ryan (1986) d. (4) Scott Hatteberg’s  ”Win Streak to 20″ walk-off HR vs. Kansas City (2002): Any homer that conjures up the nickname “Thrill” gets the nod.

 (3) Willie Mays’ 4-home run day at Milwaukee (1961) d. (6) Jason Giambi’s walk-off HR vs. Yankees (2001): Say Hey, that was an easy one.

(2) Reggie Jackson’s home run off the light tower in Detroit (1971) d. (7) Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run (2001): Reggie’s dinger was the thing of myth.

PITCHING REGION

(1) Catfish Hunter’s perfect game (1968) d. (8) John Montefusco’s no-hitter at Atlanta (1976): No need to explain.

(5) Vida Blue’s Cy Young Season: 24-8, 1.82 ERA, 301 K’s (1971) d. (4) Mike McCormick’s Cy Young Season: 22-10, 2.85, 185 K’s: No contest.

(2) Juan Marichal’s 6 20-win seasons (1963-66, 1968-69) d. (7) Bob Welch’s 27-win season (1990): Without a great ‘pen, Welch doesn’t win 17 that year.

(3) Dave Stewart’s 4 straight 20-win seasons (1987-90) d. (6) Robb Nen’s 4 40-save seasons (1998, 2000-02): We’ll take Stew against almost anyone.

POSTSEASON DIVISION

(1) Rickey Henderson 1989 ALCS MVP (.474, 8 R’s, 7 BB’s, 3 RBI, 3 SB) d. (8) Kenny Lofton’s 2002 pennant-winning single against Cardinals: Rickey won that series by himself.

(4) Will Clark’s 1989 NLCS MVP (.650, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R’s) d. (5) Jose Canseco’s ALCS upper-deck HR against Toronto (1989): Again, the whole canvas of work vs. a singular moment.

(2) Barry Bonds’ 2002 postseason (.356, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 18 R, 27 BB) d. (7) Mark McGwire’s World Series walkoff HR (Game 3, 1988): Remember how good Bonds was that fall?

(6) Dave Dravecky’s 1987 NLCS (15 IP, 1 ER, 14 K) d. (3) Reggie Jackson’s 1973 World Series MVP (.310, 1 HR, 6 RBI): If the Giants could’ve just got Dravecky one run in Game 6 …

 MISCELLEANEOUS DIVISION

(8) Rick Langford’s 28 complete games (1980) d. (1) Barry Bonds’ 71st HR (2001): Hey, everybody was hitting HR’s when Bonds broke McGwire’s mark, but nobody before or since has had 28 CG’s.

(2) Rickey Henderson’s 130-SB season (1982) d. (7) Bill Swift’s 2.02 ERA for Giants (1992): Rickey’s mark may never be broken

(3) Kevin Mitchell’s barehanded outfield catch at Cardinals (1989) d. (6) 18-1 “Billy Ball” start for A’s (1981): Flipped a coin on this one.

(4) Dennis Eckersley’s Cy Young/MVP Season: 51 Saves, 1.91 ERA, 87 K’s, 9 BB (1992) d. (5) Jason Schmidt’s 16-strikeout game against Florida (2006): Give us Eck over Schmidt any day.

We’ll update the bracket later this week.

rhurd