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Blues Come to the Bay Area

Baseball: A's and Giants' fans cope with the elimination of their teams.


SAN FRANCISCO — What's the best cure for a baseball hangover around here? Uh, sourdough bread? Monday night football?

Baseball fans in the Bay Area woke up to a foggy, drippy, Monday morning with such massive headaches, why, it must have felt as though someone was dropping Big Apples on their noggins.

Both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's lost their division playoff series Sunday to New York teams, circumstances that not only ended the season but also began the second-guessing and depression.

The San Francisco Chronicle's headline, in all capital letters: BAY AREA STRIKES OUT.

Can you imagine the Dodgers and Angels losing in the playoffs and the headlines saying: SOUTHLAND STRIKES OUT?

Of course you can't imagine that . . . the part about the Dodgers and the Angels in the playoffs.

Anyway, they took the defeats pretty hard around here, especially the demise of the Giants, who began the playoffs with the best record in baseball and finished it by losing three of four games to the New York Mets and failing to score a run in their last 18 innings.

At least the Giants' Barry Bonds, a lightning rod for controversy whenever he messes up in the playoffs, found a new nickname in the process: "Mr. Choketober."

Giants' ownership was clearly disappointed, mostly because the owners lost a chance for at least one more sellout at Pacific Bell Park, which they financed privately. They would probably consider changing the team's uniform numbers to look like the dial pads on pay phones if it would generate more revenue.

As for the A's, they took the defending World Series champion New York Yankees to five games before losing. The Giants may be viewed as underachievers but that is not true for the A's, who had a remarkable run to the American League West title and may have the league's most valuable player in first baseman Jason Giambi.

On the other side of the bay, Jeff Kent, the Giants' second baseman, is a strong candidate for the National League's MVP award. So is Bonds, largely because the voting is conducted before the playoffs.

The Giants' team payroll of $53.8 million dwarfs the A's total of $32 million, but even if you combine them, they're still far short of the Dodgers' $98 million. Now that's what headaches are made of. Ask Bob Daly, the Dodgers' CEO.

If you figure the price of each victory, according to payroll, each win by the A's (91-70) cost about $352,000. Each victory by the Giants (97-65) cost about $557,000 and each Dodger victory (86-76) cost about $1.14 million. So you say you want to be an owner?

All the significant Giants are under contract for 2001 with the exception of outfielder Ellis Burks, who is expected to be taken care of financially as soon as his knees are taken care of medically. Bonds has one more year left on his deal and that is certain to be an intriguing situation, given the way teams are dealing with free agents-to-be these days (see Juan Gonzalez, Ken Griffey).

Oakland Manager Art Howe had his contract extended, but the contract of Giant Manager Dusty Baker expires Dec. 31. Baker expects to return, but probably not without a hefty raise from the $750,000 he made this year.

Both teams cleaned out their lockers Monday at their respective ballparks. Drizzling mist provided the perfect backdrop to a farewell to baseball in the Bay Area.

Said baseball junkie Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, "We arise this morning to the dead of winter."

That's better than what happened to the Dodgers and Angels, who woke up each morning to the dead of summer.

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