Bear with me for a minute. I just wanted to share with my online family how I'm looking at this 2005 A's season because it seems like a lot of people are jumping off the A's ship after a very tough homestand.
The A's have made their way back from oblivion. To borrow from an ANer's screen name, this team was authoring the book Beane and Nothingness on May 30th. It was one of the worst teams in the majors because of a sputtering, nonexistent offense, average to below-average pitching and a rash of significant injuries.
But the team then went on its sports world-renowned 40-10 run to put itself in first place alone for a total of one day. I imagine there must be a psychological letdown after finally climbing to the top of that arduous, improbable journey. It's like getting to the top of Everest and then realizing there isn't any shuttle service to help you get down.
So, which team is this one? The error and the mistake-prone team that took the field over this last homestand that couldn't score runs against a team that it recently score 27 runs against in two games? Or the team that scored more runs than any other team in the majors after the All-Star break until this last homestand? The answer is likely somewhere in the middle. If this A's team wins, and wins this season, it will be because of its great young pitching, both in the starting rotation and in the pen. The offense just needs to find a way to score four runs a game. If it does, the A's will win. Yesterday was more of an aberration than reality.
I am concerned about Duke breaking down a bit over the last portion of the season because he's been used so much this year. And I've expressed multiple times my concerns about Blanton and Haren pitching around 200 innings for the first time in their careers.
But the offense needs a kick start and it could soon get one in the form of Andre Ethier, Matt Watson or Daric Barton around September 1. They won't be the saviour though. So don't expect them to be.
The beauty of this team in this 2005 season is that it wasn't originally built to win this year. Beane said several times that this team was designed for the future. He openly mentioned 2006 and beyond several times in interviews. And the best part is that with so many expensive players coming off the books for next year, including Dotel, Durazo, Hatteberg and Rincon, you have to suspect that Billy Beane will dive into the market to get the power that this team desperately needs. A certain San Diego Padre will be a free agent at the end of the year and we all know that Billy Beane has wanted him for years.
What about this year, you ask? I want to win and this year the American League seems as wide open as any time in recent memory. No team is a dominant team in 2005. The Red Sox, Yankees, Angels and White Sox all look vulnerable in one aspect or another. But the fact that this team is in contention is miraculous. Remember we had little to talk about before this recent run other than whether or not this team would beat the Ray Ratto prediction.
Youth can be a maddeningly frustrating attribution for a sports team. The team can look like the reincarnation of 27 Yankees one night and get beat by the Kansas City Royals the next. To me, everything is building towards something great. This is going to be the worst team of the next five years for the A's.
So no matter what happens the rest of the season, I'm going to enjoy what's happened so far in 2005. This team was dead, resurrected and now needs to get back on life support again. Remembering that will help with any struggles this team has for the rest of the year. I know it's helped me to gain a perspective that's tough to maintain when the team drops two of three to the Royals. But remember that same team also swept the Yankees earlier in the year.
Anything can happen the rest of the year. And I, for one, look forward to following it. If this was our rebuilding year, it's already been a better rebuilding year than any I could've hoped for, especially after one of the worst months in baseball I've ever seen.
That's just my take on it. I'd want nothing more than for this team to make the playoffs and win a World Series this season. But if it doesn't happen, I realize that this team is growing up much like it was in 1999.