When it comes what the Oakland A’s accomplished this season, culminated by Wednesday’s division-clinching win, one words best describes it.
This was a team that was 13 games back in the division entering July. This was a team that had less than a one-percent chance to make the playoffs. And now not only is this team going to the playoffs, it’s doing so as AL West champs.
Not just any team, either. This team. We all heard it. We all read about it. Some of us wrote about it. The A’s weren’t supposed be a factor in the AL West because they have a payroll of a button and three sticks of chewing gum. Meanwhile the Rangers and Angels spent in excess of $120 million, which evidently nobody told A’s players was a lot more than what their team was spending. Jocks never were supposed to be good at math.
But the makeup of the A’s is most, if not all, of their charm. Part of the ******* craziness of the A’s miraculous turnaround is the fact that they’re doing it with an anonymous roster jampacked with no-names.
Josh Reddick? Who was he before this year other than an odd-man out in the Red Sox outfield? Boy, dontcha think Boston would have loved to have his 32 home runs this year?
Brandon Moss? Who was he before this year? He was just trying to get a gig overseas. And now he finishes the regular season with the club’s second-highest batting average at .291.
And then there was the rookie explosion. A total boon for the A’s this season. With the club hampered by injuries left and right throughout the campaign, it seemed as if rookie after rookie rose to the occasion and exceeded what would normally be expected of somebody with their novice status. (This isn’t hyperbole, either. The A’s were relying on a five-man rotation of all rookies down the home stretch of the season.)
Tommy Milone? He only went on to break the franchise record in wins by a rookie pitcher.
Sean Doolitte? The converted first baseman has been the A’s best lefty in the pen.
Jarrod Parker? Only the A’s most reliable and consistent starter at the ripe old age of 23.
Travis Blackley? The first person perhaps to ever become a rookie after being a veteran shook off a brief slump to get the W in A’s second game of the Rangers series this week.
Yoenis Cespedes? When he wasn’t hitting baseballs into the doldrums of the Coliseum like it’s batting practice, he led the team in batting average.
(The list can go on and on. But why do that here when I already did it here.)
The fans, obviously, have become familiar with this motley crew. Now it’s time for the rest of baseball to. Of course, people who think they know things will tell you all this inexperience isn’t a good thing in October. But do you really want to keep counting these guys out? Have you not learned your lesson? I’m still not convinced we haven’t been witnessing some Angels in the Outfield-type ****.
Moving forward, the natural reaction for A’s fans now is to get greedy, to expect a run deep into the postseason. And the proper time for that will come. But for now, with the next game not until Saturday, A’s fans should just marvel at how far this team has come. It’s been a trip.
Photo by Keith Allison