Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A's vs. Tigers Game Four: One And Eleven And Counting

Tiger Fan Strikes
That's the record of my baseball laundry in closeout playoff games since the year 2000.

Before today, it was 1-10.

In another two days, it's going to be 1-12.

I'd like to tell you that I don't remember details about nearly all of those games. I'd like to tell you that my enthusiasm for the game hasn't been more or less permanently dulled by Miguel Tejada not touching home plate in Boston. Or that I didn't know that Rich Harden's career was going to be a long slow ride into sadness when, as a callow youth, Trot Nixon took him deep with the help of Jebus Who Is My Personal Hitting Coach And Not Yours So Suck It. Or that so many things would have been better if Jeremy Freaking Giambi had slid against Jeter Magic, or if Terence Long hadn't failed against Derek Lowe, or if someone had just had Justin Verlander killed. (Small note: for cause, Verlander is my personal MLB hate object. He knows what he did.)

Well, you get the point. Oakland gives you months and months of happiness at being in the fan base. Everything from the goofy blue-color and below stadium to the recurring wizardry of the talent acquisition, to the comeback attitude and endearingly goofy East Bay diehards. I'm happy to be an A's fan.

Right up until the elimination games.

I mean, seriously, 1-11?

Today, the team had a 3-0 lead on a Tiger team that looked ready to roll over and die, with oddly dominant deep starter Dan Straily holding a no hitter and a 3-0 lead after shortstop Jew Lowrie went deep. Which is when Prince Fielder dunks a ball to left that Yoenis Cespedes might have gotten to if he had just sold out for it, but Yoenis seemingly doesn't do that. Victor Martinez adds another profanity-inspiring knock, and then disgraced PED convict and Guy That Even Tiger Fan Didn't Really Want To Cheer For Jhonny Peralta hits a bad mistake out of the yard. Tie game, life for Detroit, and a roller coaster ride to Closeout Losstown, Population 11.

There would be another 10 or 15 groin-tearing plays in this game before it finally ended with the tying run at the plate. After nearly four hours of Can't Look Away Even Though I'd Really Love To Having Seen This Movie So Many Times Before, Detroit had tied it up, my evening's workout was ruined, and we have a fresh mental DVR of plays that I can never un-see.

You have to love playoff baseball, you really do.

The magical thing about being an A's Fan is that you rarely get to root for a guy long enough to think that he should, or could, have avoided the playoff disaster moment. Straily makes less than $500K a year and rode the shuttle to Sactown four times this year, so when he spits the bit, it's more of a what took him so long moment, rather than true chokery. Josh Reddick swinging at a Max Scherzer 3-2 change that almost hits him in the shins is just credit to the likely Cy Young winner, rather than the reason why we will always remember Reddick's beard with regret, rather than whimsy. (Also, that the Red Sox wound up winning the Andrew Bailey trade, just because Reddick's career of fail in the playoffs wipes out any utility he's had in the regular seasons.) Watching Tiger Fan get his Jeffrey Maier on for the game-tying home run just means that we can hate the umps, rather than dominant until pressured lefty set-up man Sean Doolittle. And so on, and so on, and so on.

So now it all comes down to the year-old re-run of watching Verlander close out the A's in the one-game playoff in Oakland, with its fresh new opportunity to see who on the current roster gets to wear the goat horns. And sure, I suppose they could win, and this is no way to look at Game 167 with a team that doesn't quit even when they go from 4-3 to 8-4 in a half hour or rising Just Kill Me... but, well, 1-11 leaves scars, even if most of the current roster is only responsible for 0-2 of that.

And on the bright side, if they do lose, it means that they can't lose to the rested Red Sox in the next round, or have their yard invaded by the same Road Fan Scumbags that rooted on their death a decade ago, and gave me a permanent Red Sox hate that eclipses every other fan base, and always will.

Yeah, 1-11 kind of kills your ability to look at the bright side.

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