The familiar start had us down, but far from out.
In the long game, the White Sox were going through pitchers like I was going through my good luck gameday extra processed nacho cheese (actually, more like how the nacho cheese was going through me — but the less you hear about that the better).
However, even factually knowing that good things were happening, it was still disheartening to see the 3-0 deficit on the board so early, knowing the opportunities the A’s missed.
When Sean Murphy (Seanny Bench?) hit the home run, that changed everything for me.
The game was still a nerve-wracking, nail-biting affair, but it was starting to get fun. We got punched, and we finally punched back. And when Pinder had an actual hit with the bases loaded, I even allowed some cautious optimism to seep into my head. Prior to that, he was 2-for-37 with the bases juiced. A sterling .251 OPS. And he came through.
Meanwhile, the AL RBI leader, Jose Abreu, came up over and over with runners all over the bases, and left them stranded.
For once, the breaks went our way. For once, we were talking trash and celebrating in our house.
It had to be a winner-take-all game to fully get past the past Game 5 and wild-card memories. It became seemingly mandatory to say the A’s “exorcised the demons” in any recaps of the series.
I view it from another angle. Rather than darkness being removed, light was allowed to enter. The Game 3 win makes it ok (dare I say natural?) to feel positive, hopeful, and confident. If you’re any baseball fan with a pulse you’ll still feel a tinge of nervousness for playoff baseball. But this next round, it’ll be just a tinge. In the place of the weighty dread from years past, we can now say, “we’ve done this before.” More importantly, all the players and coaches in the locker room can say the same thing.
The A’s were never a franchise that needed or wanted a curse. Curses are hokey. They are for corny baseball traditionalists and they are lame explanations for losers; a way of adding cuteness to bad baseball teams. The Oakland A’s, birthed by Charlie Finley, are anything but baseball traditionalists. And they definitely are not losers.
It’s not an exorcism, because there were never any demons.
But those memories, and those numbers, had a way of dominating the space in our brains and in our hearts. Now they won’t, and that’s beautiful.