It’s that magical time of the year when all across the country families come together to bring tension, dysfunction, baggage, and turkey to the table. My aunt Bertha will be rolling in Tuesday, and after her last diet didn’t take that might be literally necessary. Her weight is currently “5.1” because it is now measured on the Richter scale. Last week she announced she was going gluten free, and apparently I will be expected to embrace a family breakfast of “Shredded Quinoa”.
Cindi is excited to try out her new recipe for pumpkin pie, substituting acorn squash for pumpkin because it’s “basically the same”. Of course the crust has to be gluten free, which is why my aunt Bertha is bringing two extra boxes of Shredded Quinoa. I’m just thankful that my uncle Perv’s probation hearing will cause him to arrive a day late.
But I am thankful this Thanksgiving week, thankful to root for a baseball team that makes me proud even though it has never met an elimination game it could not choke away. Sometimes it’s good to step back and remember what matters, and whether you are looking at integrity, remarkable underdog achievement, or personality, when you get down to it we root for the team that is truly second to none.
My team uses garbage can lids to cap the sewage after it has been cleaned up in the clubhouse, not to cheat its way to an additional advantage with blatant disregard for the rules of the game. How sad to be Alex Bregman and not to trust your phenomenal ability enough to just play the game right. How wonderful to be a fan who roots instead for Matt Chapman. Bregman is a truly sensational talent and I wouldn’t trade Chapman for him to save my life.
My team’s closer spearheads anti-bullying campaigns and is known for his devotion to dogs. To the best of my knowledge he has used his hands only to fire fastballs, spin sliders, and pet adorable puppies, and not to perpetrate domestic violence only to be “shrewdly acquired” because he was an “undervalued asset” due to his criminal baggage.
In fairness, my team’s ace was popped for PEDs, though I have to say that as drug suspensions go, purchasing something over the counter at GNC in which the banned substance isn’t even listed in the ingredients seems like more of a referendum on GNC than on the customer. Even so, my team appears not to hire front office staff who go out of their way to use the situation to hijack a press conference, insult reporters, and then try to wiggle out of trouble by suggesting it never happened and blaming reporters for making it all up.
My team does not initiate or participate in beanball wars, like the World Series champion Royals seemed to come to the park eager to do. Yes, the Royals and Astros have trophies the A’s haven’t sniffed for, now, 30 years, but I have to tell you I would not trade my team’s integrity and character for 100 trophies.
All my team has done, on a lower-tier payroll, is win 194 games the past 2 years with all indicators suggesting that the best is yet to come. Every year I am stunned, and humbled, by the ongoing “perfect record” I have at spring training: in a sample of around 20 now, I have still yet to have a single A’s player decline an interview request, which is rather remarkable when you consider that I am literally nobody.
I am thankful that I root for the Oakland A’s, a truly remarkable group of people led by true leaders, lovable underdogs who win (until October, so far), a team that comes by its successes honestly and with integrity.
It would be easy to wallow in October failures and trophy droughts and forget that few fans get to see their team win as often, enter the post-season as often, and most of all get to root for people, and an organization, worth rooting for. If you ever forget it, look at the toxic organization currently standing in the A’s way. I couldn’t be more proud to be 10 games out, knowing that 97 wins might be the low-water mark for the next few seasons.
Happy Thanksgiving, all, and remember: If you add a little mint jelly and mustard to the table you will be dining green and gold, the best color combo on the planet.