(I admit the title is misleading if you think that by "to be first" I meant in the standings...)
Anyone who visits AN with any kind of frequency knows what I'm talking about - and the symptoms can be found anywhere on the Internet - there is a great desire to make your mark to be the very first to come up with an outlandish, wild suggestion that varies from the mainstream, in the opportunity that you may someday be looked back on as a prophet or a hero.
If I looked at the A's on May 1, put my finger in the air, and said, "Wow, this looks like it'll be a crappy month..." and "Oh yeah, Harden looks like he's going to be hurt for a while", I could probably have put that in my sig file, and would have been revered, if that were an actually valued quality.
So we've seen people jump to be the first to come to conclusions. If the A's fall behind 5-0 to the Tigers in the 1st inning, people post "The game is over." "I'm sick of watching this team." or "Billy Beane couldn't manage a Dairy Queen." But, though those seem like insurmountable odds, we know now that the A's actually won one of those two games in that situation. As people had given up on the game, the A's roared back with 5 of their own and won 9-5. In fact, in the game thread during the inning where the A's were scoring their five runs, people, with 2 outs, were saying "Wow, the A's should have gotten more than 2 in this situation," as if the final out had already occurred and the A's had fallen short.
So while we very publicly see a race to be the first to not only declare the season to be a loss, but that the team needs to be gutted, it's not so much a story of frustration as A's fans, but a sample of the bigger race to be first to say it. While calling for "Fire Macha Now" is now seen as trite, an AN inside joke, the call is now to "Fire Macha and Beane and 20 of the 25 on the roster". That's new. That's different.
We also see that race at the smallest of levels. "Dang, Crosby got a first-pitch strike. He swung through that thing. He's going to K." If I'm the first to say it, I'm a baseball analyst god. If I was wrong, then I say that about the next guy, and so on. I'm bound to be right sometime.
You see posters who are calling for the team's beheading after one bad game, a bad play, bad at bat, or a bad pitch. The idea behind being the first to make an outlandish claim, no matter how foolish, is that in the possibility you are right, people can look back at you and bask in your aura that you were right, and the first to do so. You're a friggin' prophet. And if you're wrong, make the same prediction the following day, and you just might get right the next time. By then, you are a hero who lives on the edge - albeit in the face of reality.
I'm not claiming the A's are going to win it all this year - though I certainly hope so, and will push them onward until they go home with a trophy or are eliminated. As an A's fan, it's my job to root for a great season. But we have to be resolute as fans that we don't live for the need to be first to give up early or to call for ridiculous measures and over-reactions. There will come a time in the next few decades, most likely, that this team could actually suck, not like they do now, but for real... it happens cyclically. And we aren't going to give up on this team, or this site. Surely, we are bigger than that.
So when you see people jumping to conclusions and trying to be first to make an outlandish claim or suggestion, at least you know, these aren't bad people... they just have a need for attention and this is their cry for help.