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Kudos All Around In Friday's Fairytale Episode

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Phantom of the Opera?
Phantom of the Opera?
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

I thought everyone acquitted themselves beautifully in last night's game-turned-grudge-match-turned-fairytale. The tale began, of course, as Goldichado and the Three Tags: "That tag was too soft -- I'm safe! That tag was too hard -- that's unsportsmanlike! You should tag like this {whacks Derek Norris on the head with a bat a couple times}..."

All eyes were on Machado and Donaldson as they reunited on Friday night and the first heroes were the fans. Nothing vulgar, nothing nasty, just creativity and passion as they serenaded Machado with boos (not booze -- that would be "Goldilocks And The Three Beers") and spirited signage such as "Injury Report: Hurt Feelings". Even a set of Babychados sucking on a pacifier: All in good fun. I thought the fans represented Oakland with enough class, showing up and showing passion without stooping to the level of immaturity and petulance that began this strange odyssey.

And I have to tip my hate, I mean my hat, to Machado. No one was under more scrutiny than this 22-year old who had been publicly humiliated by his own actions, then privately humiliated by his own teammates, and now under the microscope in enemy territory. All Machado did was step up to the plate in a tie game and crush a laser beam of a clutch HR off one of the A's aces. A worthy villain if there ever was one. It's the stuff of which movies are made if you leave 30 minutes before the end. The villain triumphs! Or does he...?

Josh Donaldson. Wow. I was tracking his spot in the batting order from the time Machado homered and noticed that in the 8th there was a chance the A's could load the bases with 2 outs for Donaldson. But the 8th inning isn't good enough for Hollywood, nor was it good enough for this Grimm's-but-not-grim fairytale. So Oakland had to go down 1-2-3 in the 8th, leaving Donaldson's spot due up 3rd in the bottom of the 9th.

Which meant that for Donaldson to come up as the winning run both Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss had to reach against Orioles' closer Zach Britton. Naturally, Britton entered the game with a 1.30 ERA having allowed fewer than a baserunner per inning.

No worries. Cespedes crushed a dribbler up the third base line towards -- of course -- Machado. The young man who so recently had been forced to eat his words now had to eat the baseball. Then Moss shattered his bat, but in true fairytale fashion he became Paul Bunyan (and not Russell Branyan), muscling the ball beyond the helpless glance of Chris Davis and in front of Nick Markakis. A duck snort if there ever was one, setting the stage for pandemonium.

Nothing sets up pandemonium better than an Oakland A's crowd. Anticipation was in the air just before the ball, with the fans going pre-nuts with the deafening confidence of a group all too accustomed to improbable endings, ending probably in pie.

One pitch. That's all it took: A sinker above the knees to a slugger destined to come up in this very situation and practically ordained to seize the moment just as he did. Did Donaldson swing the bat, or did Bennett Miller cue Chris Pratt to mime a swing that could be blended into a Donaldson swing for the final scene? It was too corny an ending to be real, yet the look on Machado's face -- as I imagine it, anyway -- was reality in its cruelest, most poetically just form.

"...Jones to the track...to the wall...he will watch it FLY!!!"