Sports

Homers down significantly for both the A's and Giants

Remember those soft summer Bay Area nights when you could go to a ballgame on either side of the bay and pretty much be assured of seeing at least one gargantuan blast?

Remember splash hits? Bleacher scrambles? The bash? Remember Barry Lamar Who Hit 'Em So Far Bonds? Way back, waaay back, waaaaay back, you can tell it goodbye.

That would be the Bay Area's Longball Era heading over the wall. Gone. Long gone. Or as one-career-ding-ding Duane Kuiper might bark, out-ta here.

Along with our gas shortage, you may have noticed a distinct power shortage at AT&T Park and McAfee Coliseum this season. Take an even closer look. Power plugs have been yanked at every turn, and the meager outta-here output is approaching historical lows.

For starters, the current face of Bay Area fence-busting is Jack Cust of the A's, who spent 10 years toiling in the minor leagues and whiffs nearly 10 times for every electrical connection. He has 20 homers. Not great, but compared to the rest of the cast, it seems like 43, and hey, even with all those strikeouts (136), at least he's trying.

Beyond Cust, the Bay Area has become a dinger desert. There are Mark Ellis and Emil Brown with 10 homers, and, and ... well, everybody else on both teams is still in single digits. That's right, it's August and nobody on the Giants has at least 10 home runs. How does that float people's boats out on McCovey Cove? Tough to say, but it has to be driving Willie Mays and Willie Mac straight out of the building.

As for the A's, they have just 79 homers in 2008.

They're on a pace for 117, which would be their lowest total since 1979 -- by far -- in a season not shortened by a labor dispute. They hit 108 in '79 and lost 108 games to boot, but nothing less than 142 in a year since ... until now.

But this season's Giants make this year's A's look like the '27 Yankees. The G-Men have a mere 61 home runs, putting them on a pace for 91, which would be their lowest total since knocking out a mere 85 (again, not counting strike years) in 1976.

While neither the A's nor Giants will likely threaten their own record-low outputs since moving West (94 for the A's in 1968, 80 for the Giants in 1980), they might threaten their all-time joint single-season low of 198 homers in 1976. Right now, the combined pace is for 209 by season's end.

Unconscionable but reasonable, particularly with the Giants on a season-long 10-game home run dry spell.

How pathetic is 209 home runs? Well, consider that the A's hit 239 all by themselves in 2000. The Giants hit 226, for a total of 465, or 122 percent more homers than we're likely to get in 2008. Holy HGH, Batman.

The Giants have hit a home run in just 45 of their first 107 games. The A's did it just 49 times in 107 games. The A's are averaging a homer every 47 at-bats, the Giants one homer every 60 ABs. In 2000, they both averaged a homer every 24 at-bats. Astounding.

Of course, it must be noted that home runs are down precipitously from that record year of 2000, when 5,693 homers were blasted out of parks across the steroid-fueled American baseball landscape. This year, the testosterone-toned (wow, say that fast three times) MLB pace is for about 4,700, or roughly a full 1,000 fewer homers than eight years ago.

But the Giants and A's are below even that dwindling curve. Well below.

The A's hit 171 homers just last year, the Giants 131. So we could see 100 fewer homers than we saw in 2007. No wonder Lew Wolff is suddenly hemming and hawing about Fremont. He's probably out scouting East Bay Little League park dimensions right now. Peter Magowan? He simply went bye-bye baby when the HR well went dry.

What happened?

Bonds, who hit 28 homers last year, was forced into retirement. Pedro Feliz, who hit 20, signed elsewhere. Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson, who combined for 40 home runs last year, were traded. Shannon Stewart, who hit 12, didn't re-sign. Eric Chavez, who hit 15, has spent most of the season on the disabled list. Bengie Molina, Randy Winn and Ray Durham, who combined to hit 44 homers last year, have just 16 this season (and Durham is history).

There you have it ... or don't have it.

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