The standard and oft-overused line around these parts whenever the Home Nine has done something exceptional goes a little like this: "Who are these guys and what have they done with my team?"
Well if the A's keep this up, they're going to render that phrase obsolete. If anything, our A's have officially entered watchability status. So they're a wee bit tardy. It happens.
Forgive me if I am a little giddy in the wake of a five-game winning streak that has come at the hands of two lineups that would never be mistaken for Murderer's Row, but having been a fan for a long, long time, I know these two things to be true:
- I don't care if it's against St. Mary's School for the Blind, outscoring your opponent 35-8 over five games is the right kind of awesome.
- I take my giddiness however I can get it.
Things have gotten so out of hand of late that the A's don't even care if I show up to the Coliseum, as I did last night. (First things first, I stayed for a few songs, ok? Girl's got pipes on her, I'll give her that). I took my 18-year old god-daughter Brittany to the ball game. It's been awhile for her. When she asked where we were sitting, I told her third deck. She said "Oh." Um, yeah. When we got to our actual seats in Section 122, we sat on the end, usually reserved for my niece Christina and her family of four. "We'll sit here until they show up", I said. To my surprise, my oldest brother Ernie came in their place, with his wife and brother-in-law (visiting from Korea) in tow.
Playing the hermano mayor part to the fullest, Ernie came in shouting, and forced me out of my chair. This prompted a visit from Ruth of Guest Services to check my ticket. As I reached for my stub, I asked her, "Do you know who I am? I write for AN. Call Blez; he'll straighten this out."
To witness Williams with a bat would be to watch Ruth with a badge. She moved with the grace of Mays in and out of aisles, making sure everyone was in their proper place. Can't have all those empty seats taken up by imposters.
I kid you not, twice the Ticket Nazi asked to use my brother's binoculars, to check on people in the right-field bleachers. Ernie wondered if she got ready for a game a la Rickey, standing naked in front of a mirror, saying "Can I see your ticket?" over and over. (Not a pretty image, I assure you). Meanwhile, Brittany asked if her uncle to my left ever stopped talking, to which I replied, "Pot, meet kettle."
Ah, but I digress. Allow me to think outside the boxscore for a moment.
The A's simply look like a different team right now. I don't detect a swagger of any sort, but there is surely a hint of confidence building. Not to challenge Matt Holliday's dedication but he doesn't make that diving catch two weeks ago. On back-to-back nights, Orlando Cabrera has jumped on the first pitch of the game for a base hit, and has come around to score. Setting the tone the way a leadoff hitter should. And my colleague Nico hit it on the head when he called Giambi's bases-clearing double a "defining moment".
I also enjoyed this quote:
I know plenty of fans don't buy into "Braden's fearlessness" and "Giambi's clubhouse presence" being relevant to individual or team success, but it was interesting to hear Ken Korach tonight talking about what an impact Giambi has had in teaching/developing a "winning atmosphere" with the young players - meaning teaching them what it means to play to win, keeping on them to play hard and play to win, etc.
Now Ken is a pretty darn bright guy and he's with the team every day - I would hope his observations, especially when he is so vehement, would hold traction with some of the more skeptical folk.
Yes I realize intangibles are nigh impossible to measure but I agree with his Blogness on this one, just as I agreed that a little hustle and encouragement and accountability can make a difference, albeit a small one.
I remember earlier in the year when Taj feared that the A's were creating a losing culture, and I shared the same concern, although I had hoped guys like Holliday and Giambi would counteract that mentality. Well, they're starting to.
Blez preached patience last week, reminding us that the season is marathon, not a sprint. In a perfect world, the big bats that were supposed to alleviate the pressure from the young guns would have come out swinging from the start. It doesn't always happen that way. But as Jack Cust stated after Friday's win:
"I said at the beginning when people were talking about the offense that it just takes time. That's why you have batting averages. It's an average of a full season of at-bats. Guys are going to do what they do."
And suddenly they are doing what they do all at once. Couple that with the A's answering Nico's memo, and you got yourself a winning streak, and more importantly a completely different vibe in Oakland.
A little more of this and we won't have much to complain about ‘round here.
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Game time is 1:05. Thread to follow.