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A’s lineup, pregame news for Wednesday

Red Sox legend Jim Rice popped into the A’s clubhouse and was chatting w/Nomar Garciaparra earlier this afternoon. You never know who you’re going to see from day to day, especially when the A’s visit a team with such a rich history as Boston … We’ve got some dark clouds hovering over Fenway at the moment. Batting practice was canceled for both teams as a steady rain fell earlier. But the tarp is off the infield right now. Weather.com says there’s anywhere from a 35-45 percent chance of showers around first pitch, and for the next couple hours after that.

On to the news: Reliever Jeff Gray, who knows the route between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento quite well, was recalled to take the 25-man roster spot of Dana Eveland. The right-hander has some nasty stuff, but he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to show it in two brief stints with Oakland this season. He was called up twice in May and retired the only batter he faced each time. Gray, 27, was 2-2 with a 1.99 ERA with Sacramento and was 11-for-11 in save opportunities.

Bob Geren’s phone buzzed w/a call from Dallas Braden while he was meeting w/reporters, but there’s still no word on whether the lefty will return to start one of the games this weekend in Tampa Bay … Brett Anderson will throw either Saturday or Sunday, w/Gio Gonzalez pitching the other day if Braden doesn’t go …

Jason Giambi gets his second day off in four games, with Bobby Crosby playing first and Jack Cust serving as DH. Giambi and Geren both said his body was in need of some overall rest, and he’ll get two days off with no game scheduled tomorrow. There might be a few guys who wouldn’t have minded taking tonight off with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield going for Boston. It can’t be too much fun gearing up for the heat that Josh Beckett brings, and then adjusting to Wakefield’s floating stuff 24 hours later. Now that I’ve written that, of course, the A’s will put a 10-spot on the scoreboard tonight …

The lineups, w/Trevor Cahill trying to snap out of a two-start slump for Oakland …
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B
Crosby 1B

Cahill RHP

Sox
Drew RF
Pedroia 2B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Bay LF
Ellsbury CF
Kotsay 1B
Green SS
Kottaras C

Wakefield RHP

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Goooooose

Hall of Fame day in baseball, which means only this: Barely a handful of questions will be asked to the honorees before the subject of performance-enhancing drugs will be brought up. Such are the times in which we live.

In 2008, there was only one electee by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and Rich “Goose” Gossage was more than gracious when, after only three questions, the inevitable came up. That’s not surprising: Goose is one of the best people in the game to deal with.

Would’ve loved to have heard Jim Rice’s response to such questions (Goose was asked if he had any advice for the voting members of the BBWAA in how they should determine who from the Steroid Era deserves votes), but the Red Sox legend was 16 votes short. He’s got one more year left on the ballot.

I have not served on the BBWAA long enough to earn a Hall of Fame vote —- you must have 10 uninterrupted seasons as a member, and I need four more —- so to critique the the final results as to whether they were right or wrong would be unfair, in my opinion. It’s an imperfect process for an imperfect place, and it’s worked pretty well since before I was hanging out in my mother’s tummy. So I’ll say what I say every year; the voters got it right.

Here are some of my individual thoughts on some of the players on the ballot:

—- Gossage: It’s about time.

—- Rice: His numbers become less impressive when juxtaposed against those of the Steroid Era, but he was a dominant force in his day, and his 1978 season was one of the most impressive you’ll ever see. He also was legendary for treating members of the media as if they were sub-human, and that could be coming back to hurt him now. 

Andre Dawson: I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think Hall of Famer when I think of Andre Dawson. Maybe because he played a lot of his career in Montreal, and perhaps because some of his best seasons for the Cubs came when Chicago was losing.

Bert Blyleven: Played on so many lousy teams that his won-loss record suffered, and that may forever be his Achillies’ heel. In my eyes, he was never the dominant starter on his own staff, and that’s more telling than his 3,701 strikeouts.

Lee Smith: He received 231 fewer votes than Goose, which is startling when you compare Smith’s career with Gossage’s. Goose gets Smith in most categories, but not by much.

Jack Morris: He received only 42.9 percent of the vote, so he’s got an uphill climb. For my money, no pitcher in the 1980s or early 1990s was better in a big game, and that should be worthy of something.

Mark McGwire: His 128 votes were the same as he received a year ago. Apparently, all we’ve learned about the Steroid Era in the past 365 days didn’t sway voters one way or the other.