The A’s Magical Season is over; But Their Future is Bright
Oakland, Ca—First things first: the A’s lost to the Detroit Tigers behind a solid pitching performance from Justin Verlander. Yes, He had a CY Young strike zone at times. Yes, the Tigers didn’t make any friends in Oakland by celebrating on their opponent’s home field for more than an acceptable time period. But that is not what this article is about. This article is about the A’s season as a whole and what it has meant to their fans.
As with any team that starts winning down the stretch, there were plenty of bandwagon fans at Thursday night’s game. They were the ones with the Brand new hats. Or the ones that still had Jason Kendall jerseys from the last time the A’s were in the postseason. But with the A’s trailing 6-0 late in the game, those fans decided to bail early, leaving the players with the true fans. While Detroit celebrated on the field there was a smattering of boos that echoed throughout the Coliseum, but those boos quickly turned into an elongated ‘Let’s Go Oakland’ chant. The A’s players, moments after a difficult loss, stood by their dugout and saluted the fans. This team is special. I live and work in San Francisco (Giant’s Territory) and the past few weeks I’ve had many people say how amazing a recent game was and how they are pulling for the A’s. They are a team you can get behind. There has been a connection with players and fans this season that I have not witnessed before.
It stems from the right field bleachers where they embrace each player with their own catch phrase if you will. From Josh Reddick’s championship belt to Grant Balfour’s mosh-dancing and finally with the ever-popular Bernie Lean for Coco Crisp, these fans are just pumped to watch baseball, and they know their stuff. Even when attendance was low, these fans were there day in and day out to support their team.
Immediately following the loss to the Tigers, A’s manager Bob Melvin called the A’s radio station to say thank you to the fans for such a great season. This doesn’t sound like a man who’s just lost a season-ending game. This sounds like a man that knows they’ll be back in contention next year.
Let’s briefly discuss what is a very realistic possibility for an Oakland rotation next year: Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin. As someone who watched every televised game this year, that rotation is scary if healthy. Add to that the foursome of Blevins, Cook, Doolittle and Balfour and the bullpen is stacked nicely as well. Some of the A’s hitters struggled down the stretch due to increased playing time over previous years. With some better conditioning in the offseason, they should be less hit or miss and more consistent as well.
With the addition of the Houston Astros next season, and impending doom in Texas (and the biggest free agent on the market seemingly leaving their team), the A’s could very well take the division crown next year as well. The Angels underperformed all season, and without any help in their bullpen, they don’t pose much of a threat either. The Mariners are always a tough foe, but when push comes to shove, they are beatable. Don’t get me wrong, any team can come out of nowhere, but if the 2013 Athletics are anything like their 2012 counterparts, they’ll have some swagger too.
In leaving the ballpark tonight, and talking with friends who follow the team, there isn’t much lingering sadness about this season. Heck, it’s the only postseason that’s ended where I didn’t need a hug. A’s fans have their heads head high after an improbable season and have every right to do so. The only sad part about tonight’s loss is that we have to wait until March to root for them again.
By: Jason Burke
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