While the A's haven't had so much to cheer about since around 2006, bygone days pre-2006 provide for many noteworthy highlights. As some of you know, I've been an NRAF since 2001 when I left for college. I witnessed, in person, a lot of bad baseball (sound familiar?) but then, in 1999, a curious thing happened. The A's unexpectedly ran off an 87-75 record, good for 2nd in the AL West. Everyone watching that year saw what I saw: that this was the making of a competitive team.
That last game of the season was a doozy, against these same Texas Rangers, who were in the middle of their dark all-hitting no pitching days. I know the exact seats I was in, too: first row, above the 362 mark, RF side. "My seats", at the time. Tim Hudson was in line for his 20th win, but inexplicably matched pitch-by-pitch by Ryan Glynn through 6. The A's would manage to push 1 across in the 7th on a Ramon Hernandez RBI single, then add two more on solo HRs from Randy Verlarde and Olmedo Saenz in the 8th. 3-0, going into the 9th.
Fast forward to 2000, and the A's would find themselves with a solid offense, led by Jason Giambi's OPS+ of 187, Eric Chavez's 117, and Ben Grieve's 116. The Big Three finally pitched together for the first time, with Tim Hudson having his first full season in the rotation, and Mark Mulder and Barry Zito both joining him by midyear. The prior year's trades for Kevin Appier, Greg McMichael, and Jason Isringhausen filled-out the team. That said, the A's found themselves on Memorial Day with a 25-26 record and in last place (though only 2.5 out of 1st.) They had a great June, mediocre July and August, an even better September though. The start of October found the A's clinging to a 0.5 game lead against the Mariners.
Jason Isringhausen came in, and of course, made it interesting. After giving up a deep flyout for the first out, Izzy allowed two consecutive singles, bringing the tying run to the plate in Scott Sheldon. On a 2-2 pitch, Sheldon popped out. Finally, with two outs and the Coliseum roaring like I had never heard it, Frank Catalanatto came to bat. Izzy got the count to 1-2. With the noise deafening, Izzy set and whipped out his secret weapon: the big 12-6 curve. It was a beauty, and Catalanatto was frozen. Strike 3! The A's streamed onto the field as tears streamed down my cheeks. They came out waving T-shirts above their head, hoisting (Jason) Giambi on their shoulders, and spraying the fans with champagne.
That Izzy strikeout is the highlight of my A's fandom. Now, it's your turn: What is YOUR favorite A's highlight? Were you there, or did you watch it on TV?