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Remembering Why We Do It: How To Watch Baseball When You Hate It

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So the A's could probably lose the rest of their games this year and they still probably won't reach as low of a point as this moment right now, fresh off a four-game sweep by their hated division rivals. And there is a dawning realization as you realize that the anger you feel on a daily basis isn't even directed at another team, or another player, or the umpire this time, but at your own team. And that's the worst feeling of all.

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"Life turns on a dime. Sometimes towards us, but more often it spins away, flirting and flashing as it goes: so long, honey, it was good while it lasted, wasn’t it?"

― Stephen King, 11/22/63

There's a good chance that if you're reading this article on this website, you have put in an inordinate amount of time, money and emotional energy into the Oakland Athletics, and you probably have for years. You've lived through the good, the bad, and everything in-between. It's because of the lean years; the mid-to-late 90's, 2005, 2007 through 2010, where a single A's victory felt like a true accomplishment; where every single Spring Training hope sprang eternal until the team was out of the race by mid-June, that you can truly appreciate the A's run to success. We've seen worse A's teams. And still, I'm not going to sugar-coat it for you: This week was as horrifying as you remember, and as ugly to watch as a Game 5 playoff collapse, but yet...there is baseball tomorrow.

There are 14 teams out there who are already making their off-season plans. Fourteen fan bases who don't have any hope. It doesn't matter how well the team plays in their remaining games of the season, their year is over. Spring Training will be the highlight of of their next eight months. Who knows? Maybe Spring Training 2015 will be the highlight of the A's 2014 season. Maybe the All Star game was the peak of the A's season. Maybe losing Cespedes hurt the A's in more than just numbers. Maybe they should have picked up Nelson Cruz. Maybe they should have kept the team together. Maybe they should have bolstered second base. Maybe they...if only they...why didn't they. But they didn't. And can't. And there is nothing to do except play out the last month of the season with the team they have now, plus one Adam Dunn.

As it stands right now, the A's are five games behind the Angels for the Division lead. They still hold the first wild card, and if September is a different month than August (and it would be hard to repeat that garbage), there is a chance--maybe not a good one with the feelings we have right now--but a chance that they could earn a play-in game to the 2014 playoffs. I know that it's a big comedown from the best team in baseball for months. This season has spoiled us, which is why August was so particularly painful. We were making playoff plans, and the A's were systematically falling apart. And yet, the 2012 A's won the Division in one of the most dramatic fashions in their history, and still lost another Game 5. And the 2013 A's owned the West down the whole stretch...and still lost the exact same Game 5. Did we really want the playoff expectations of being the best team in baseball, anyway? I thought not.

It's a rare gift to sit down and watch a team you love night after night. Because soon enough, win or lose, playoffs or not, there will be a day where baseball is not on your television. It will be a cold winter for all but one team, and I know there's a day in November, January or February where you would give anything to have even bad A's baseball on your TV. And I'm not romanticizing this season; since the end of July, there's been nothing but bad A's baseball on your TV.

But tomorrow will dawn September the first and if I told you in the last week of March that the A's would start September within striking distance of the West lead, and would hold the first wild card, part of you might consider that a season success. Because there is a chance of an extended baseball season. There is a chance of October ball; long after the other teams have headed out on their golfing vacations, the A's might still be packing the Coliseum. No, it's not the way I wanted it; it's not the way the team, the fans, the coaches and the players wanted it either, yet here we are. We aren't looking back at August; we're playing one more month of baseball before our cold, hard winter. And we can conjure up Lady Luck, and pixie dust, and any remnants of magic that might be left from our season and we're going to try--against all odds--to extend our season.

And this time, not as the favorites, not as the unbeatable team, not with the swagger and confidence of a can't-miss team, but this time as the underdogs. No one expects the A's to win the World Series right now. No one actually expects them to score a run, but that's kind of beside the point in NewSeptember. If there's a team and a fanbase that thrives more as the underdogs, I can't name them. Underdog is our style, and we've never worn it better than right now. Here's to baseball--good or bad--for another month.

And here are some wise words from another long-time A's fan:

Sometimes...

Sometimes baseball is full of pleasant surprises.

Sometimes baseball is mean.

Unless you’re the Cubs. Then baseball is Satan with a Hitler mustache and Lucy Van Pelt curls.

Sometimes you lose your heart and soul before your first World Series.

Sometimes you win the whole damn thing anyway.

Sometimes you win the next year and the year after that, too.

Unless you’re the Cubs. Then you never win. Ever. Well, not for a very, very, very long time.

(I actually like the Cubs.)

Sometimes you bash your way to success and it seems as if nothing can stop you.

Sometimes one swing of a bat from a guy who can barely swing a bat can stop you.

Sometimes not even Mother Nature can stop you.

Sometimes you bash your way to success (again) and it seems as if nothing can stop you.

Sometimes Chris Sabo stops you.

Sometimes a “can’t miss kid” misses.

Sometimes the “can’t miss kid” finds something else to do with his life.

Sometimes we put too much trust in him.

Sometimes not enough.

Sometimes a 2-0 lead in the ALDS ends in heartbreak.

Sometimes twice.

Sometimes you win 20 games in a row and it seems as if nothing can stop you.

Sometimes Game 5 stops you.

Unless you’re the A’s. Then Game 5 is Satan with a Verlander mustache and Manny Ramirez curls.

Sometimes a 2-0 lead in the ALDS ends in heartbreak.

(Again)

Because Game 5.

Sometimes a five game deficit with nine games to go can still lead to champagne.

Sometimes Justin Verlander happens.

Sometimes Justin Verlander happens twice.

Sometimes in the same place.

That’s because Justin Verlander is a jerk.

Sometimes everything we think we know to be true, isn’t.

Sometimes everything we hope isn’t true, is.

Sometimes I can’t stand this game.

Sometimes I watch anyway.

Most times.

Always.

Sigh.

--Donald Marquez

We'll be here tomorrow afternoon with all of your action.