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Is Oakland Good At Strikes?

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Oakland Athletics Photo Day
“You will watch me fly!”
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Oh you thought the headline referred to baseball? Silly goose. Before we get to baseball I have to let you know, in case you’ve been in a cave the past few days, that Oakland is the latest city in which the teachers have walked out demanding better conditions for themselves and for their students — especially the latter.

If you’ve never participated in a big union strike, let me tell you it is an experience like none other. Thursday (day 1 of the strike) and Friday, teachers, counselors, and myriad other support staff — and in some cases, students — stood outside our schools holding and waving signs for passing cars to see and honk if they wanted to show support. I imagine a honk is similar to a “like” on Facebook (I wouldn’t know), giving affirmation, and an endorphin rush that ranks somewhere between meth and cocaine. I mean, so I’m told.

My highlight so far? The couple that pulled in off the main drag, rolled down the window and the woman asked, “Are you guys on strike?” I thought maybe they had somehow not heard, so I said “Yes,” and the woman replied, “Cool — we have some homemade guacamole and chips for you.” She just wanted to make sure she had the right people.

The school district has yet to blink, but in the strike’s first 2 days school attendance across the district was roughly 10%, as most families opted to support the strike and keep kids either home or at “solidarity schools” set up throughout the city. It’s a game of “chicken” between underpaid teachers who are not getting paid during the strike and an allegedly broke district that is now losing state funding faster than Jorge Mateo can go from home to 3B.

The strike will resume Monday, when the forecast calls for pouring rain. In contrast to baseball, strikes have no rainouts so if you’re local feel free to buy some avocados and if you’re not feel free to root for children.

As far as baseball is concerned, and it should be very concerned, it is exciting to note how many players the A’s have accumulated that fit the description of “He can impact the game.” In the cases of Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano, we have already seen front and center the impact which can be made and those two are big league tested. We have seen glimpses from Franklin Barreto in between strikeouts, and today Jorge Mateo demonstrated that while he a lot to work on — namely, still everything — his “80 grade speed” can turn around a game almost literally in the blink of an eye. Mateo’s leadoff triple, which did not even roll all the way to the wall, helped the A’s break a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 8th en route to their first Cactus League win of 2019.

Then you scroll down the minors to Austin Beck and Lazaro Armenteros, check out Luis Barrera, Jorge Brito, Dairon Blanco, and realize you haven’t even considered the group of potentially electric pitchers that includes Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, and the pure athleticism, multi-tool talent, and high ceilings of about a dozen A’s youngsters bodes well for the future — if a few of them pan out instead of flame out.

It’s remarkable how fully the A’s have evolved, in about 3 years, from a team that “really needs to get more athletic” to one of the most athletic organizations top to bottom. Billy Butler, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Valencia, Ryon Healy...meet the next generation of Oakland Athletics who do the name justice. Not all will even reach the big leagues, let alone thrive, but even if only a handful do there are going to be some fun times ahead in Oakland, and not in a “holding soggy signs while you get drenched and not paid” kind of way.

Next up: A’s vs. Royals, Sunday at noon PDT behind Aaron Brooks and a gaggle of relievers.