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A’s Fan Fest Weekend

A few thoughts on the A’s Fan Fest, which basically marks the first official weekend of the 2008 season.

— So Jack Cust denied he used steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs. What else did you expect him to say? Baseball players have been borrowing variations from the “I didn’t juice,” handbook for years now, and Cust’s explanation was typical. Look, I like the guy as much as anybody on the A’s, and it was impossible not to get caught up in parts of his 2007 season, but like I’ve written so many times in the past, it’s impossible to believe anything a player says these days. Cust may well be telling the truth, but a player’s benefit of the doubt is a thing of the past.

— Regarding Cust’s explanation, it is interesting that we haven’t heard from one-time Baltimore Orioles outfielder Larry Bigbie in a while (looks like he’ll be playing in Japan this year). It is entirely possible, I suppose, that Bigbie was mistaken when he said he lockered next to Jack Cust during their Baltimore days. Or, it’s possible that maybe they were one or two cubicles down from each other, and Bigbie simply used the phrase “next to” in a general way. Again, that’s the problem with all the silence and all the lies. Getting to the truth is like trying to snag a foul ball amidst a crowd of 50,000 people.

—- Here’s why MLB.com is more a public relations tool than a journalistic site: The headline on their Sunday afternoon story was: “A’s annual FanFest a Big Hit.” Funny, only 12,000 people attended, the smallest ever for a FanFest at the Coliseum in the seven seasons they’ve had it there. First time ever below 20,000. I realize MLB.com is the way a majority of fans get their information, and there are great things about that site, but don’t ever mistake it as a bastion of journalism.

—- The story on the site pointed to the 35,000 single-game tickets the A’s sold on Saturday. I’m guessing that’s not going to push them over the 2-million mark when it’s all said and done.

—  Good to hear that the A’s are going to pour more money into scouting and developing, and that they may go higher with their signing bonuses for high draft picks. Don’t think for a minute that getting a Top 5 pick wasn’t on the “pro” side when general manager Billy Beane drew up his pros and cons for rebuilding.

— Finally, very ingriguing column recently by Ray Ratto regarding a possible punishment for the Giants, given their noteworthiness in the Mitchell Report. I believe Ray is right in saying that granting the A’s the rights to Santa Clara County would be the only punishment that would truly fit the crime. I don’t imagine any such thing would ever happen, though, even though A’s owner Lew Wolff goes back such a long way with commissioner Bud Selig. MLB never does anything that sensible.