The Oakland A’s are firmly within their current competitive window. The 2020 season was one we’d been waiting years for, with some core stars in their primes and some new top prospects arriving. Unfortunately, the season ended in the ALDS round last week, as the green and gold were knocked out of the 2020 MLB postseason.
It was a successful summer in many ways. The A’s earned their first AL West division title since 2013, though it remains to be seen how history will look upon such records in a season shortened by coronavirus. They also won their first playoff series since 2006, after missing six straight chances at advancement.
But surely everyone’s sights were set on a ring this time, in Oakland’s third year in a row in the postseason. Their .600 win percentage would equal 97 victories in a full campaign, the same as the previous two summers. It’s possible to be happy with what they did, but also bummed that they couldn’t make it further — especially when the elimination came at the hands of the dreaded Houston Astros.
As you would imagine, the players themselves are every bit as disappointed. Mark Canha had the following to say after the game Thursday.
Canha: "It just hurts a lot. It felt like this was our year. I was reading on social media and stuff about the numbers and what we did and didn't do. When I reflect back, I'll look inward on my shortcomings and try to improve. It was a failure. We wanted to win the World Series."— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) October 9, 2020
But as the saying goes in baseball, there’s always next year. And with the sorrow came determination, to get up, dust themselves off, and go win it all in 2021.
Mark Canha (con't): "That's kind of the message I was trying to tell everyone in the clubhouse is just learn, learn from this. Don't just go down in the dumps. You have to take these failures and learn from them." (2/2)— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) October 9, 2020
Ramon Laureano offered a similar mix of emotion. He had an especially big day in Game 4 despite the loss, hitting two homers and at one point giving Oakland an early three-run lead, and he also received credit for keeping team morale up during their Game 3 comeback win.
Laureano got a little emotional when talking about his feelings after that loss: "It's a bad feeling. Hopefully, it doesn't happen next year. We have to keep our heads up and keep working. Keep dreaming moving forward to win a World Series."— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) October 8, 2020
Falling short of the title is never anyone’s goal, but the A’s did make progress this year. And while the team may look different next summer, with several big names reaching the ends of their contracts during an especially uncertain offseason, there’s an extremely strong core to build around one way or other.
So chin up, Athletics Nation. Let’s be happy there was a season at all, fleeting as it was, after months of following pandemic news and labor disputes. The A’s packed a lot of exciting moments and positive memories into two-plus months, and they will be great again next year. Keep the fAith!