Hi! I'm here as solely a throwback. I'm like a curled-up mustache, high socks or working sewage at the Coliseum. Some old dude who used to run this place for like the first five years of its existence although I asked for permission to be able to write a post here today. Hell I'm not one to force myself on the folks who've done the most incredible work here all year long.
Seriously as our A's dropped game after game and further and further in the standings, it seemed like this place got better and better. Small consolation? Yeah but it was great and helped me deal with the collapse on a daily basis.
I wanted to put up a bunch of random thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head since the insane collapse last night. Hold on for a Larry King-style bulleted column. Hey I said I was an old dude so my thoughts aren't as coherent as they once were.
- The A's barely held on to the Wild Card spot so the expectations couldn't have been great going into the game. Yet there was a small part of me that thought, "Hell it's a brand new season. It's a lottery and none bigger than a one-game playoff and the A's have Jon Lester going. All they need to do is score three or four runs and it's over." And that's part of what made the game so crushing. You also had to think, if the A's can somehow win the Wild Card game, then they face the Angels and if Brandon Moss is back (seemingly he was) I like the A's chances.
- I have an admitted man crush on Moss. I think he's the true straw that stirs the A's drink these days. Yes Donaldson is incredible and MVP-caliber but the team is a different team when Moss is being Moss. This also made the loss harder to take because Moss was clearly back and could've propelled the team's offense deep into October had the Royals not run wild on the A's last night.
- Speaking of running wild, the Soto injury was absolutely huge. It completely changed the game and made the A's vulnerable in a way that they might not have been with a capable arm behind the dish. I know much of it was on the A's pitchers (oh Dallas Braden where are you now?) but the dropped ball on the pitchout, especially, was a stake through the heart.
- The Royals are not a hateable team. They really aren't. The A's have played and lost to plenty of those. Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees but losing to the Royals makes it especially easy to channel that anger over losing back to where it belongs. The green and gold.
- Much has been made and will continue to be made about Beane deciding to "go all in" by trading Cespedes for Lester. I'll be the first to admit that it's tough for me to EVER be objective when it comes to Beane. He's become a good friend and I probably feel the worst for him today because I know that no one takes these losses harder than he does. As for going for it, I don't have any issues with it even though I loved Yo. Clearly the A's approach in the last few seasons didn't get them anything so the A's front office did what good, smart people do. They tried to stop banging their heads against the same wall and tried a different approach. It didn't work. And the other thing is, I firmly believe that if the A's hadn't done what they did with the Lester deal, they wouldn't have even had the one-game lottery chance last night. They likely would've been sitting at home watching the postseason. And I'll always take the lottery chance over not playing.
- To me the A's started to head down the drain when Brandon Moss injured his hip and they had to basically rely on Donaldson to carry the entire offense. The theory was clear. The A's had lost in the postseason for years because they had no one to match up to the Verlanders and Scherzers of the world. Bring in Shark and Lester and team him with Sonny Gray and there you go. You've got a rotation to stand up to anyone. Except of course if you wind up plummeting into a one-game playoff against a team that does nothing but run wild on the bases.
- I do want to thank Jon Lester for being a consummate pro in his time in the green and gold. While the A's tried acquiring a proven stud before in Matt Holliday and you could simply tell he was counting down the days until he could exit stage right from Oakland, Lester performed well and didn't seem to loathe the A's experience. Yes he didn't deliver when it mattered most but the A's wouldn't have been to the playoffs without him (they were starting to sink before the trade even happened). Good luck to him...at least until he signs for the Yankees or Red Sox (you just KNOW that's coming).
- I do think the A's have one more season to be competitive in the rapidly changing AL West before they're going to need to tear it down and rebuild. Maybe I'm wrong about that because I know Beane likes to be one step ahead but I think 2015 will be the final season of going for it before the team needs to go full Astros.
- Speaking of full Astros, I think that team is close to be a juggernaut in the division. The years of being a laughingstock DO pay off and getting all the high draft picks for years have it on a cusp of being the new Tampa Bay Rays. Possibly as early as 2015. But more likely starting in 2016. And all the jokes at the Astros expense for years will quickly be forgotten.
- Stop fighting against the people who don't understand what the book Moneyball was about and just agreed with them that it's flawed. It makes it much easier and quicker to get out of there.
- The baseball postseason system sucks. Look the A's got what they deserved. That strike zone last night was heavily tilted towards the Royals and had it been called both ways, I imagine Lester would've been unhittable. But clearly the ump went full Leslie Nielsen. This isn't an excuse. If the A's wanted similar treatment, they should've won the division and forced the Angels to play in Kansas City with the home cookin' strike zone. That's on them. But the umpiring in baseball remains my biggest pet peeve in all of sports. It almost makes the sport unwatchable. I watch all the other sports too (hey it's my job) and really, baseball umping is the most impactful on the result of a game of any refereeing (strike zone y'all).
- Injuries seem to hurt the Athletics every year. And if there's been one repeated theme through all of the A's success since the Beane era started it's that if a player puts on green and gold, he's likely to get hurt. I don't know what this means because the A's have overturned their approach to injuries several times and yet it's yielded the same results. John Jaso is an outstanding hitter who hasn't been a part of the team when it counted most for two years running. The Moss hip issue. Even Donaldson seemed hobbled. And don't get me started on Coco (that is to be expected though). Gentry too. Not to mention the two big injuries at the beginning of the season that led to the eventual trades for Shark and Lester (Parker and Griffin). I don't have an answer for why this happens. I just know that maybe someday, someway, the A's will enter a postseason with maybe one or two injuries instead of a dozen.
- As much as this team has ripped my heart out, stomped on it and stuffed it in a Coliseum sewage pipe, I still love them. The last two months of baseball weren't fun. They were painful in a way that we've seldom known in Oakland. Usually the A's are the team that is average (at best) in April and May and then becomes a juggernaut for the rest of the season only to falter in the playoffs to big spending, rich teams. 2014 became the year of a totally different script which made me think that maybe the green and gold is just cursed. I've run out of explanations for it. The crew has changed from Hudson, Mulder and Zito to Haren, Zito, Harden and Blanton to Parker, Colon, Anderson to Lester, Gray, Shark and yet it's always yielded the same result. Failure when it matters the most. It's hard to make this assessment when looking at a one-game playoff that could've essentially gone either way (and should've gone the A's way when they had a 7-3 lead) but as many sports folks will tell you, this is a results-oriented business and the results have continued to be the same. Regardless of people calling it "Chokeland" and "Moneybawl" and all the clever little monikers people on the Web amuse themselves with, I'll bleed green and gold until I die. Just make like the old A's mantra through all the early 2000s issues. Wear it. Loud and proud.
- That being said, can we officially kill the champagne baths for everything accomplished in baseball? I get that baseball is long and is a ridiculous marathon/war of attrition but the A's celebration of the Wild Card berth now seems just silly. Especially when they were cruising towards something much greater for 2/3rds of the season and barely squeaked in. It was survival but I do believe that baseball is the only sport where the champagne showers has become a "thing" after everything involving the postseason. Maybe we can reserve it for, you know, winning the ALCS and World Series alone? Wow I AM sounding like an old cranky guy.
- I just wanted to again thank the front page folks at AN for making this the best season ever on this site. Alex, Nico, BBG, Jeremy, Lev, Zonis, Scott, Bill and everyone...the work you did here in 2014 was incredible and I know that it was NOT easy, especially the sputtering end of ridiculous lows. You've made AN a must read place 24/7/365 and it's beautiful.
- I watched the Royals comeback through a Darth Vader mask. Yes my son Alex decided that the eighth inning of a one-game playoff was the right time to bug me to play Star Wars with him. And yeah, I obliged (one of the reasons my tweeting pretty much stopped during that timeframe). You know what? I'm thinking that the Galactic Empire brought some bad luck to our A's. I might have to burn that Vader mask now.
- One final thought...I'm looking forward to my next interview with Billy Beane if he's kind enough to grant me one. Although I imagine that even if BB had outgrown his throwing-chairs ways that he didn't revert back to that last night. Honestly, I couldn't blame him.