A few days ago, I looked back to see what I was writing back in the miserable days of May - when eight-game losing streaks were the norm, injuries were rampant, and the offense was almost nonexistent.
Back then, even Blez was a little downhearted, and people on this site were divided (remember the controverisal Optimists' and Pessimists' threads? -- I posted on both). In "How Low Can We Go?" he asked if this was the team's low point - ever. He got a lot of responses saying no, that it's been much, much worse.
On May 27, I wrote:
"This is nothing. This is a team that had a really good run and failed to win any big prizes. And now it's over. But there is talent on this team, even if it's difficult to see it clearly at the moment. And Billy Beane was right to trade Hudson and Mulder; the team had gone as far as it could given the budgetary constraints. (I'm less sure about whether we got the right guys in return, but Nico is correct to point out that the keys to those trades are Meyer - injured - and Barton - a teenager.)
The bigger question is how long it will take Beane to rebuild the team so it's competitive. I don't know, and it may take longer than we hope, but his track record speaks for itself.
It's difficult to adjust to a season without scoreboard-watching and a steady diet of losses. We've grown spoiled, and expected Beane to give us a contender against all odds. It hasn't happened, and everything has gone much worse than expected. It's no fun, but as mentioned above, it's been a lot worse."
On the fateful day of May 30, I wrote:
"With the exception of Kielty and Scutaro, the whole team has been a disappointment. Some of that can be blamed on injuries, the rest on poor performance.
These things happen. Sometimes everybody goes into the tank, and sometimes it lasts a lot longer than anyone expects. Beane's offseason moves haven't worked - not a single one of them, at least not yet. That doesn't mean they won't down the road, or that nothing is salvageable. There is obviously a psychological component to the team's ineptitude at the moment.
But I'm afraid it's going to a long road back, as this sort of awful season - if it continues - will have signicant ramifications (attendance woes, player defections)."
And then the Devil Rays game began, with Oakland falling behind early. I was watching the game and posting a lot that evening. Initially, I was posting nonsense, such as a lame riff on Tampa Bay starter Kazmir - a recitation of lyrics from Led Zeppelin.
It was one of those many evenings when the out-of-town fans were unable to follow the game closely because Gameday was running way behind. So everyone was posting play-by-play updates. And at the end, there was much rejoicing.
I still have my Chronicle from the following day, with the game story and a Gwen Knapp column quoting Billy Beane as counseling patience. "Temporary irrationality aside, I think this is the kind of situation where I need to be very rational," he said. Beane blamed injuries for the team's troubles, and said things would get better.
I never imagined it would get so much better. And while I still have my doubts that this is a playoff team, I certainly have enjoyed being proven wrong so far.