It’s the dawn of a New Era in Oakland.
Specifically, it’s the dawn of a very, very sucky era. Hopes for the future notwithstanding, the remainder of the 2008 season does not look to be a particularly enjoyable experience for anyone with an Athletics affinity and an unfortunate lack of masochistic tendencies.
But never fear! Every cloud has a silver lining! Behind every cloud there lurks a rainbow! . . . While I can’t think of any more, there are almost certainly several additional cloud-based metaphors out there that would make us feel better about rooting for a AAA team somehow snuck into Major League contention!
Specifically, I have eight silver linings/rainbows/unmemorable cloud-related literary tropes to illustrate why the last few months of the 2008 season will be, if not successful, at least kinda fun:
1) The entry of Alan Embree into the game is now less of a punch in the gut and more of a post-modern conceptual art piece – The Reliever Who Wasn’t. Heck, I’m rooting for All Embree, All the Time, just to see what kind of damage he can do without the burden of expectations. Give up consecutive homeruns to every member of the opposing team’s lineup? Bring down a passing airplane with a wild pitch? Rip off his mask to reveal that he was secretly Arthur Rhodes the entire time? Anything can happen.
2) This new era means rooting for Huston Street on a whole different level. I cheer for his every strikeout, not because it signifies one more out en route to an Oakland win, but rather as one step closer to some poor team taking him off our hands via trade. I cheer every save as another meaningless stat padding Huston’s resume for any passing GM with a hole in his bullpen and too many power-hitting corner infielders clogging up his farm system. I encourage all of us to do the same. A prize to the first A’s fan to bring a sign to opposing stadiums proclaiming “STREET! THE PERFECT FIT FOR A CONTENDING TEAM!” or “STREET! HE MAY JUST BE YOUR MISSING PUZZLE PIECE!” or “IS HUSTON STREET WORTH ONE OR TWO OF YOUR MORE VALUABLE PROSPECTS? BELIEVE ME, HE IS!!!” An extra prize for anyone who can work one of the prior slogans into a catchy chant.
3) Conversely, it’s time to root for Duchscherer to go straight into the crapper.
4) I, for one, welcome an era in which we no longer have to keep a constant vigil on the Anaheim score. It’s exhausting enough keeping track of one game per day – expecting a fan to live and die by every pitch in two games daily is cruel and unusual. I look forward to the Angels not even passing my mind until the inevitable day that Garret Anderson’s exploding kneecap makes the Sportscenter Top 10.
5) Jack Cust is the marvel of the age: a man who manages to OPS+ 122 while striking out 5 to 7 times a game. Some say that’s impossible. Others say it is possible, as evidenced by the fact that it is in fact happening. Still others say it’s very possible, just made slightly less impressive when considering his actual strikeout numbers and not the ones I just made up. Whatever the numbers say, he unquestionably proves, once and for all, that Moneyball doesn’t work.
6) Sometimes Carlos Gonzalez hits homeruns. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it makes you feel all sunny inside when it does, doesn’t it?
7) It was shaky there for a while, early in the season, but don’t worry: it’s still okay to hate Bobby Crosby.
8 ) A season of mediocrity gives us our first big chance to turn Michael Inoa into The Great Pumpkin: a supernatural, possibly-fictional savior whose velocity and pinpoint control will solve all our problems and make life worth living again. I foresee at least three or four seasons in which all of us can be Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch on Halloween, telling our respective Sallies about how while He didn’t come last year or the year before, The Great Pumpkin is sure to arrive any minute to pass out toys to all the good little children and lead Oakland into postseason glory.
Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like fun?