The 25-man roster, as currently constituted and probably as constituted the rest of the season, is not very good; I get that. I'm not asking for Jack Hannahan to suddenly catch up to mid-90s fastballs and I'm not asking Bob Geren to produce long winning streaks from a combination of young pitchers, old hitters, bad hitters, and Kurt Suzuki.
Here's what I do want:
* I want the A's to run out every ground ball and every fly ball as if they secretly know an error is going to be made on the play. Even if they're wrong almost every single time, it's the way baseball should be played and it brings energy to a team to see that kind of hustle 100% of the time.
* I want every player in the dugout to acknowledge a teammate's hard slide, or alert tag up from first, or "hustle double," in a way that is visible to the teammate out on the field, and as a result to every fan, and I want the manager to be the first one out to the front step clapping and leading that acknowledgment.
* Every "productive out" - sacrifice fly, bouncer to second that advances a runner to third with one out, successful bunt - I want every player in the dugout to greet the batter before he gets into the dugout, in a way that lets every fan see that every player appreciates that a "productive out" is better than a "non-productive out," and I want the manager to be the first one the hitter gets to on his way to the dugout.
Do you get the picture? Everything I'm asking for as a fan is fully within the control of any team, no matter how talented or untalented the players are, no matter what the score. I'm asking for energy, intensity, and liveliness, things that won't necessarily produce more wins but will necessarily send the right message about how the game is supposed to be played. And I want my manager to lead, at every turn, insisting that the team play with life and intensity, and insisting that everyone acknowledge these qualities when they see them.
Is this too much to ask? Because personally, I think if the A's focused on just this, the team would start playing better. Not a lot better, but a little. And a little can lead to a little more, and every bit helps. Energy is infectious and intensity is a habit. Guys, you're 18-29 doing it your way and you're heading south fast. But I'll proudly watch a team that plays with passion, and I'll support that team through thick and thin.
Can you guys just do that much? Starting, like, now?