As a method to cope with my hangover upon the A's exit from the post season, I wanted to address an issue that's been on my mind for awhile. During this ALDS and ALDC, words like "hunger" and phrases like "fire in the belly" were thrown about by fans and sports writers. The A's apparently demonstrated that "hunger" through out the series with the Twins. Then, upon winning the third game against the Twins, the ESPN announcers declared that the once hungry A's had "swagger." At the same time, some baseball fans felt that the Tigers demonstrated a higher degree of hunger and passion as they rolled through the Yankees and eventually the A's.
The 2006 A's were labeled by some as not demonstrating enough "fire." And, hence, many fans pointed toward Bradley as a valuable asset because of his obvious displays of fervor. And he further demonstrated that quality during the fourth and last game in Detroit.
And does is it come down to pride? After getting knocked out of the first round of every post season during the 2000's, the A's had to prove that they were no fluke - that they deserved to be in the playoffs - that they were a formidable post season opponent. As the A's were making the transition into the 2006 post season, in addition to shaking off a disappointing post season history, they were also going up against a Twins team that looked unbeatable. Similarly, during the 2006 season the Tigers had to prove that were not the last place team that they had been for so many years. And because they imploded during the last couple months of this season, the odds were stacked against them as they limped into the post season.
So did the Tigers have more to prove once they faced the A's in ALDC, and thus demonstrated a higher degree of zeal and drive? Did the A's have less to prove during this last series, and thus showed a lower degree of hunger? Do fans value explicit displays of emotion because that player clearly demonstrates the he cares about the game? Is a pitcher, who doesn't pump his fist in the air and let out roar after striking out the side, less passionate about the game? Do more emotionally reserved players, like Eric Chavez, have less fire. Do players that don't necessarily wear their passion on their sleeve, have less "fire in their belly"? I don't know.
Qualities like hunger, pride, and fire are ultimately intangible and arbitrary. But these same terms as applied to individual players and whole teams add drama to the game. It's why I follow baseball, and why I love the Oakland Athletics. I just thought I'd pose the question.