Baseball in Septmber is when heroes and goats are made, and when every game takes on the ultimate importance, as the air turns crisp, the kids return to school, and we challenge for the playoffs, on the cusp of sport immortality!
What? Not so much? Not this year?
Each season has 162 games, and each game is likely going to go nine full innings. Sometimes, they even go more, and occasionally a little less. This means by the time 2008 is in the history books, the A's will have seen about 9,000 outs, and tens of thousands of pitches. Tens of thousands of times to run out a play, and tens of thousands of times to decide whether to swing, or to take.
Even writing that tires me out. But for those of us left seeing the A's play out the string, we expect them to run out every play, to give their fullest efforts to snare the line drive, to chase down the foul ball, and to take big cuts at pitches when they were in the zone.
But does this go both ways? Are we giving our fullest efforts as fans at this point?
Last week, I attended the A's/Twins game, bringing our 10-week old twins for the first time. We saw a great game, with Suzuki banging a solid hit off the wall in the 9th to win the game in a walk-off. But not many people saw it. The announced attendance was over 12,000, but I'd bet it fell way short. There were no lines at the bathrooms or at the concession stands. There were banks of empty seats.
That's because being fans of a team that's not doing well is a hard chore. It's not fun seeing what we see to be the same failures day in and day out. It's hard to get excited about a possible comeback if we're down by double digits in the fifth inning, or if it seems like we could exchange lineups with the team's AAA club and possibly do better. And for some, this strain means they flat-out stop going, stop caring, and stop watching.
I believe on AN, we have a different breed of fan. We know how to look at the stories behind the headlines. We understand long-term goals and short-term sacrifice. We understand the players as much as we do the statistics. It feels like it's been a long time since a game really meant something, but it's also been a long time since the A's were so far behind come September. I know the players are going to keep running hard to first until the last out is made, and the Coliseum gets torn up by the Silver and Black. We can take a few dozen losses for the betterment of the team. Just look at these Royals, who we'll be tangling with in a double-header this afternoon. Where is their tomorrow? At least, we know, we have a plan.