I don't know about everyone else here, but I have a special soft spot for the A's 2006 run. Yes, I loved the 2000-2003 dominant run just as much as the next person, and yes, I loved and dearly miss the Big Three. But for many reasons, 2006 represented the true success of the A's current management (i.e., Billy Beane). I think I speak for at least a fair portion of the A's fans when I say that two of the common denominators of being an A's fan in the 21st century are that we root for Billy Beane to continue to live up to his brilliant reputation, and that we have rooted for Eric Chavez to live up to the mile-high potential he showed as a youngster. With those in mind, consider that: 1) '06 was the year when Beane's draftees and those who came through his trades were all over the line-up (compared to the earlier teams whose stars included Hudson, Giambi, Tejada, and Grieve, who were drafted before Beane took the helm), 2) our newest golden boy at the time, Nick Swisher, had what seemed like a break-out year towards perennial stardom, 3) Chavvy went into the year declaring that he would put an end to his slow-starting ways by training harder during the off-season, and promptly began the season by banging out 9 home runs and ops'ing over 1000 for the first month, causing many of us to declare in elation that Chavvy would finally earn his $66 million contract (little did we realize that it was the beginning of an end), 4) Haren and Calero confirmed that Beane was, indeed, a mastermind in getting better values in trade, 4) a risky in-season move of bringing Milton Bradley seemed to have paid dividends.
And, of course, starring smack dab in the middle of our last playoff squad was Frank Thomas, another product of Beane's unconventional move. He received, what, $3 million that year altogether for his 39 home runs and a 4th place finish in the MVP voting? I'll never forget when Thomas said during the locker room celebration after the game 3 win over the Twins that even though his heart would always remain in Chicago, 2006 was the most fun he had had playing baseball.
I realize this is an A's blog and Thomas is mostly a Chicago White Sox. But for that year alone, I couldn't help but feel a pang of wistfulness as I heard the news that Thomas was retiring.