In the winter prior the 2010 season, the A's signed Coco Crisp to a two year, $14 million contract. Coco didn't even qualify as a Type B free agent, meaning the A's weren't required to give up any additional compensation for him. It wasn't a big move, it wasn't a flashy move, and it checked in at the 16th priciest deal of the offseason. A fairly minor signing that turned into one of the best signings of the cycle and one of the current regime's tenure, and one that brought one of our favorite players to Oakland.
As A's fans, we're not often treated to long tenures in Oakland. It's a sad part of our fandom, even if it's not necessarily the wrong thing for the A's to do. Coco bucked that trend, staying here for nearly seven full seasons, through the good and the bad to be a fan favorite.
-11.9 fWAR total over his seven years (including the past two, which, whatever)
-The walkoffs of 2012, "What is happening in Oakland Ray Fosse, I have no idea Glenn Kuiper!"
-The greatest and most underrated catch of all time
-Bringing an amazing dance craze so easy to Oakland, even the most rhythmically challenged can participate
-Just being one of the more fun players in recent history to watch and root for
The Bob Geren lead A's of 2007-2011 were miserable. Coco came in in 2010, and while the A's weren't competitive (though they were decent), they were easily the best flavored team of that five year drought. In spite of Ben Sheets missing his target by five feet and repeated flashes to Bob Geren's consistently puzzled face, 2010 was entertaining largely thanks to the A's new acquisition. Coco was in prime form in center, snagging flyballs he had no business catching and at the plate, he was a quintessential leadoff hitter. Enjoyment in baseball at least partially restored.
Then came 2012. When the A's do win a World Series (and it will happen), it'll be joyous. But I know I'll have a slight twinge of sadness, wishing the 2012 team that deserved it so could have won it all, too. There's never been a team that deserved better in the playoffs, and Coco Crisp was a huge part of that team's success. He was the face of a group up overachievers, and Daric Barton, who put together the perfect regular season. Against the wishes of father time and uncle age, Coco continued to be a studly contributor through the A's three year playoff run, routinely giving us great moment after great moment.
To me, there's no greater Coco memory than when he went around the field after clinching the 2012 playoff berth, shaking hands, high fiving, and making the days of fans all over. Our love for Crisp transcends the game for moments because of moments like that.
Retirement in baseball is almost universally a painful exercise. There's the rare player who goes out on a high note, but for the most part, retirement is a rude push out the door by father time. Sometimes, players succumb to major injury, sometimes they just lose their form, and in rare cases, they bring their entire team down with them in an obnoxious manner.
Coco's fall off the edge of a baseball cliff was a sudden and sad injury based demise. People forget how recently he was great and how steep his fall was. In the first half of 2014, his wRC+ stood at 141. Then, the injuries struck, his bat suffered in the second half where he put up a 55 wRC+ and like that, the very good, age defying player we loved was forever changed.
Some injuries are random, Coco's are not. Is there any doubt that Coco's demise was a product of his giving his all for his team? Rarely a game would pass where Coco wouldn't crash into a wall and the constant refusal to give less than 100% eventually led to the downfall of his career. We should acknowledge and appreciate what he gave to us in Oakland.
This is, in my completely biased opinion, the best catch I have ever seen. I don't know how it's not talked about more nationally. Coco runs full sprint, times his jump perfectly, and robs a homerun from the great Prince Fielder. Skip to about 25 seconds into the video, cause some intern at MLB is a jerk.
Coco's prime has departed, but the flash is still in there.
This wasn't even with the A's, but Coco dodging big punch James Shields right hook is hot coco for my soul.
Arguably the best walkoff in the decade of great walkoffs
Coco's departure from Oakland was frought with even more ugliness than your usual, sad, over the hill career finish. The vesting option, long known to be a problem, turned into an ugly public dispute, fueling the fire already burning around A's ownership. Whether that was right or that was wrong, it was ugly and so very fitting with the way the past two seasons have gone.
But don't let it sway the needle on your love for Coco. It clearly didn't sway the needle in his love for you, and it's nothing more than a minor contract dispute. It's in the past now, and it doesn't take away the years of memories he gave us.
We'll miss you, Coco.