After the passing of a loved one, it's an Irish tradition to throw a spirited wake instead of a somber funeral. It's how my grandfather said he wanted to leave this world. It's how I want to leave this world.* At a wake (at least, the way my grandfather explained it to me), there's no one dressed in black. There's no crying — except from laughter. There's no decorum, no rules, it's just a party honoring the good times. People drink, eat and share stories about the life of the recently departed.
*One rule, though: There will be good beer at my wake. No Coors Light allowed.
I figured, since the Oakland Athletics hold a special place in our hearts, a wake is more appropriate than a funeral at this time. The sellout crowd on Thursday night agreed. No one left the Coliseum sad. Well, we were unhappy that the crazy run of 2012 was over, but it was more like we were happy that it even happened in the first place.
One of my favorite A's moments happened right after the final out was recorded and the Detroit Tigers went crazy in celebration. Very few people left their seat. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to accept that this was over. We chanted a heartfelt, "Let's Go Oakland!" We didn't care that this was the Tigers' moment. This was our way of saying thank you to the A's for doing the impossible. I remember walking out of the stadium after the A's lost the 2003 ALDS to the Boston Red Sox. There was a lot of anger. Any silence was punctuated by depression. This was not like 2003 in any way. The fans that cheered for the A's, right through Detroit's celebration, were happy for the journey.
So I feel it's appropriate for A's fans to have a drink (hopefully of coffee or orange juice, unless it's past 5 o'clock in your time zone) and share their favorite memory from this season, instead of mourning the loss.
There were a lot to choose from:
— Watching Opening Early Morning against the Seattle Mariners from the California Room in the Red Lion Hotel in Oakland, thanks to the generosity of another A's fan.
— The Oakland debut of Yoenis Cespedes, and seeing that defiant blast past the left field bleachers into the cold night air.
— Finally beating the Giants at AT&T Park.
— The emergence of a rookie... pick one: Ryan Cook, Yoenis Cespedes, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Evan Scribner or any of the 15-plus rookies that wore an Oakland uniform this year. If not for Mike Trout, we'd be celebrating Yoenis Cespedes' Rookie of the Year award soon.
— Watching Oakland Oaks day with my brother and seeing an extra-inning affair that ended with Josh Reddick taking a pie to the face.
— Sweeping the Red Sox.
— Sweeping the Yankees.
— Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy. But here's my number. So call me, maybe?
— Josh Reddick looking like the hitter Oakland has so desperately needed for years.
— Can you Bernie Lean? I can Bernie Lean. I can, I can Bernie Lean.
—Thinking in early September, "Hey, maybe they could win this thing."
— Seeing the entire stadium engaged in a Grant Balfour ragefest during the final inning on Tuesday, Oct. 2, when the A's defeated Texas 3-1 and claimed a tie of first place in the American League West.
— The next day, watching Oakland fall behind 5-1, then come back to win, with a little help from the leather of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Again, no one wanted to leave the Coliseum after that victory.
— The leadership of Bob Melvin.
— The humor of Brandon McCarthy.
— The courage of Pat Neshek.
— Coco Crisp driving in the winning run of an absolutely insane ALDS Game 4, the 15th walk-off victory of the year.
— Knowing that Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson were watching that game from home. The A's had the second-lowest payroll in baseball (to the San Diego Padres) and stunned the big spenders in their own division.
What was your favorite memory of this season?