Friday, October 12, 2012

We Didn't Get Enough Oakland A's Games

A Better Ending Than This One
First things first: congrats to the Tigers, who will get my not ironic, if not total and obsessive, rooting interest now in the American League playoffs, even if they wind up facing the underdog Orioles. (Why? Because it would make more people I know happy, and I only really know one Oriole Fan. Besides, 1983 still burns.) I bear the Tigers no ill will, do not think unkind thoughts about their fat corner mashers, and don't even hate their punk relief staff all that much. Go with God, gentlemen, and end the Yankee / Peter Angelos Threat. (Mostly Yankees.) You should probably clone that Verlander guy.

But having said that... man alive, do I hate the Tigers right now. Mostly because, through their unrelenting competence, particularly in the art of missing bats with thrown baseballs with starting pitchers that define their generation, they cost me more hours with the 2012 Oakland A's.

I could not get enough hours, pretty much as soon as the calendar turned to July, with the 2012 Oakland A's.

Next year, of course, *could* be very good. Four out of the five starting pitchers were rookies, after all, and health permitting, they are going to be pretty good on that side of the ball. While relief pitchers are fungible, it's a reasonable bet to assume that guys like Sean Doolittle (a position player until about a year ago, amazingly) and Ryan Cook will be fine. Yoenis Cespedes might turn into one of the American League's best outfielders, and maybe Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick won't wear down and pass out in the spotlight next year.

But realistically, way too much went right for the A's this year to be too sure that they will be better in 2013, especially given the money-printing machines in Texas and Anaheim to contend with. Seattle and Houston might still be doormats next year, but the best bet for this team is the 85 to 88 win treadmill, good enough to contend for a wild-card, but no real chance to win a division.

And sure, maybe they can convince another 5 to 10K people to show up for games and give them a real home-field advantage for more than playoff games... but even that's far from a given, seeing how people really don't ever go to the Coliseum without a very good team bringing them in. And the Giants' deeper run (at least by one game and day) in the post-season is also going to cut them no ice, and neither will the fact that the new yard is still pretty much a pipe dream.

I'm just sad, is all. Next year's team could be fun, but this year's club was, with the possible exception of the 20 game streak that I got to see in person, the most fun. That's just the way it is with unexpected teams, and the special little consolation that MLB Minus Fans get, that MLB Plus Fans do not. Yankee Fan or Phillies Fan or Cardinals Fan or Angels Fan or Rangers Fan will never get the special joy of watching a bunch of men without pedigree or barbershop choosing skills can give you. And never will.

So thank you, A's. Thank you, Cespedes and Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris and Reddick and Coco Crisp. Thank you, Grant Balfour and Doolittle and Cook and the baby starters. Even the players who clearly need to be replaced for this team to get better have a place in my heart.

I just wish I had more games with them. 

And somehow, I don't think I'm alone in that wish.

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