If I had a Neuralyzer to selectively use on myself, I'd block out all baseball memories from June 2014-November 2015. Not that time I peed myself in kindergarten. Not that time I peed myself in fourth grade. Just the shitshow that was A's (and the rest of the majors) baseball for a two year span.
In spite of a disastrous season, there are still some wonderful moments to be relived from 2015. After all, it's still a beautiful boyhood game being played for the love of the beautiful sport, and maybe for some dollars.
Aaron Brooks was a bit of an afterthought in the Sean Manaea acquisition. Thought to be a sixth starter at best, Brooks didn't sniff consistent playing time in a Kansas City rotation poised for playoff success. Things were a bit different for the A's, a team that started a staggering 13 different pitchers over the course of the season. Brooks promptly made his A's debut 3 days after being traded and with the A's trading away their best player while being long out of contention, interest was at a season low.
So how did he do? He dominated, of course. Brooks threw 7 innings of 4 hit ball, striking out 5 and walking none. He allowed a single run and thanks to a fine day by the Oakland offense, an A's win was a foregone conclusion. The A's new righty even had the foresight to be sent out for an 8th inning of work, allowing for a proper ovation when he was removed from the game after getting one more out (and allowing one more hit).
We all know how Brooks' season progressed after this start, but that doesn't matter. If only for a night, Brooks had pinpoint control over both the strikezone and the crowd, winning over the Oakland faithful with each out he recorded. Aaron's succeeded in a mix of different ways, inducing numerous groundballs and flyballs to retire the Indian lineup. With a little luck, or maybe the help of the baseball Gods aware of how much a fanbase needed something, Aaron gave us arguably the best moment of 2015.
Being a starting pitcher in baseball might be the most lonesome experience in major sports. Sure, relievers can lose an entire game in one pitch and goalkeepers can give up a valuable goal in a matter of seconds, but neither compare to being isolated on the mound from the first pitch of the game with all eyes on you. Brooks was effectively making his first start in front of a new crowd and a new (bad) defense. In spite of being all alone on the mound, hardly knowing a soul in his new, plumbing deficient home, he absolutely dazzled.
Obviously, we need to talk about Aaron's mother. I don't actually know anything about Mama Brooks but her emotion is infectious and she was just as important to this moment as Aaron. Seeing Aaron pitch a beaut was just the start of her wonderful night. Mama Brooks took in every part of the beautiful scene, appreciating the crowd's response to the newest A. An August game for a last place A's team draws some of the most passionate and understanding fans in baseball, making the ovation even more authentic and valuable. Aaron earned every bit of that moment and Mama Brooks made it even more special.
Brooks' place on the A's in 2016 is still up in the air. But no matter what happens, we will always have that beautiful moment to remind us what baseball is all about.