A World Series ring? A win in a clinching ALDS game? A division crown? Contention? OK fine, it came down to this. “All I want for my birthday this year is to wake up to a 20-win team!!!!”
Well that only took a week.
I was born on a June 24th many moons ago, and I attribute my fandom to the fact that the day I was born the A’s won for the only time from the 19th to the 27th as they were losing 8 of 9. But they took one day off from their ineptitude to make sure I (literally) came out a winner.
Doctors said I came out clapping, “Let’s go Oakland! (clap clap, clap clap clap)” which is odd because it was the team’s last year in Kansas City. But my retort is that what I was saying, as a 5-second old baby, was “Let’s go to Oakland!” And they did!
Anyhoo, there have been some memorable June 24th games along the way, such as in 2012 when AJ Griffin made his big league debut and made a worthy showing, holding the Giants to 2 ER in 6 IP, but the A’s went to the bottom of the 9th trailing 2-1. That’s when newly called up rookie catcher Derek Norris crushed a walk-off 3-run HR off of closer Santiago Casilla.
That blast was arguably the turning point in Oakland’s magical 2012 season, as it followed 2 losses and moved the A’s to just 35-38 at the time. The A’s would go 62-27 the rest of the way to capture the AL West title on the season’s last day.
2017 was also a super funsies year to be born on the 24th of June. My 50th birthday will always be intertwined with not one, not two, but three players’ first major league HRs. In Chicago to face “Big Game James” Shields, apparently this game wasn’t quite big enough to hold Shields’ attention as he got lit up like a Christmas tree.
In the A’s 10-2 win, every Oakland batter had at least one hit in the 15 hit attack. Three of those hits were the first big league HRs for Franklin Barreto, Jaycob Brugman, and Matt Olson. How fun is that?
Now don’t get me wrong: June 24th is not always a magical day for the green and gold. For example last season they were unable to make the 24th one of their 5, count ‘em 5, wins in all of June, 2022.
But there is precedent for some “cosas especiales” so perhaps this afternoon Hogan Harris will spin a perfect game or Tony Kemp will spring for 3 HRs or Esteury Ruiz will swipe 2nd, 3rd, and home — maybe even on the same pitch!
Or perhaps a dramatic victory today will be the catalyst for Oakland to go 62-27 the rest of the season, which remarkably would still leave them under .500. It would also put them at 83-85, which is unlikely to happen for all sorts of other reasons.
Well, I’m just proud to be rooting for a team that enters my birthday part of the exclusive “20 win” crowd. In my heart I truly had a feeling they’d get there eventually. Probably.