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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sports: Bracing the A's

By Dani Leone

I went to Oakland because it's easier than going to the avenues. A nice young man there thought my legs looked good. He wasn't hitting on me. He was fitting me for a custom ACL brace, so I can get back in the game.

"You look good," he kept saying, looking at my knees. "Your legs look good." Some people with my kind of injury, their legs go wonky, he explained. And he showed me his. His knee. Yep. Wonky.

Kaiser would cover the surgery, but they won't pay for the $428 brace that may well make me not need the surgery, according to at least two of their surgeons. Not medically necessary, they say.

So, to review: knee surgery, medically necessary. Brace so you might not need surgery ... not medically necessary.

Turns out it's worth $428 to me to at least try to not need the surgery that I need, so, OK. Got it. Texted Hedgehog from the elevator: Wanna play racquetball?

But she was in L.A. and I knew it. Looking for work ...

It was so balmy and beautiful on the street that I took the longest way possible to BART. And then when I was on it I realized this was Wednesday and the A's were at home. That's a $2 ticket. Game time: 12:35.

It was 11:30.

I got off BART at West Oakland, switched sides of the track, and went to the Coliseum for lunch. I didn't want to, I had work to do at home, no money, no hat or sunflower seeds ... But you can't not go to a baseball game, day like this.

The Cincinnati Reds. My age is no secret, I remember the 1970s, when the Reds and the A's were the powerhouses of baseball. And it could be that way again. It isn't, but it could be. Two very goddamn good teams, only now they are sneaking up on people. Because they're not the Giants or the Yankees or Red Sox, or even the Texas Rangers or the Braves. Or Dodgers. They are not the big-money teams.

Nevertheless, as we approach the All-Star Break, baseball season's halftime, the A's are in first place, and the Reds are in the thick of things in the very tough NL Central. I think their record is almost the same as the A's's, but because of the St. Louis Cardinals . . .

A's went up 4-0 in the fourth on an RBI double by Brandon Moss and a Josh Donaldson 3-run homer. Moss's hit never really left the ground, although it never exactly touched it either. In all my baseball life I have never seen anything like it. There was never any question of it going over the fence; but it did cross my mind that it might blast through it. Frozen rope, is the expression, but it doesn't do this one justice. This one laser-boinked off the base of the wall in deepest right field so quickly after being hit that the runner on second was barely able to score. From second! On a double!

Donaldson's home run, by contrast, towered up and away, majestically, rockets-red-glaringly, deep into the left field seats.

So: boom and boom. Back to back. Moss and Josh. But the real hero of the game was Jed Lowrie, just for being Jed Lowrie. Nah, he only had two hits, and only one of them was a double. The real real hero was A.J. Griffin, who threw his first ever complete game in the majors, and it was a beauty: a two-hit shutout against one of the better-hitting teams in baseball.

Mixing his marvelously mediocre not-so fastball with a bottomless changeup and a loping curve, he kept the Reds off-balance all afternoon. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, the meat of the Cincinnati order, both went oh-fer, with Jay Bruce looking particularly silly in his golden sombrero. (That means four strikeouts in four at-bats, yo.)

Yeah, and I think I deserve me a game ball, too, for managing to lazy through a warm-afternoon ballgame juiced on barbecue and back without forgetting my new $428 knee brace under my seat, miracle of miracles.

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