Think Juuuust A Bit Outside the Box, the A’s Play Major League


A little more than a month ago I wrote a very critical article about how 95.7 The Game was making a mockery of the Oakland Athletics, when they should be promoting the team.  One of the examples I cited was the promo likening the A’s to the movie Major League, complete with casting of a few A’s players as characters from the movie.  I felt like this was a pretty demeaning statement to make at the time, but as I continued to think about it I began to realize that on some level they were right.  It doesn’t excuse them for making fun of the team who they serve as a flagship station for, but it’s not as ridiculous a concept as I thought.

So I decided it might be interesting to examine the parallels between the 2012 Oakland Athletics and the fictional Cleveland Indians portrayed in the 1989 classic.  We start at the top, ownership, the ones who wield all the power.

Lew Wolff as Rachel Phelps

The two teams are very much alike in the simple fact that the people who are in control of the teams want to relocate them seemingly at any cost.  Rachel Phelps hatches a plan to tank the Indians after she took over the team in order to relocate to Miami (that aspect really dates the movie doesn’t it?), she assembles a team of true misfits with the idea that they will be so dreadful that no one will go to games and the team will hemorrhage money.  This will then open the door for their move to be approved because there’s obviously no way the team can succeed in Cleveland.

On the other hand, Lew Wolff bought the Oakland Athletics in 2005 and not long after unveiled plans to move the team down the road to the city of Fremont.  Those plans ultimately fell through, but Wolff’s efforts to get the A’s out of Oakland at all costs continued.  Despite public comments to the contrary, Wolff appeared to have instructed GM Billy Beane to deconstruct the team and ship off all of the Athletics who had any value.  This is something that was repeated over the years, as faithful A’s fans saw their favorites leave over and over again.  Theoretically, just like Rachel Phelps, Lew Wolff sought to prove that a move out of Oakland was absolutely necessary because there was no way they’d succeed there.

Grant Balfour as Rick Vaughn

The nickname “Wild Thing” would certainly apply to the hard throwing, foul mouthed relief pitcher on the Athletics.  Oftentimes close up shots of him on the mound are a bad idea assuming some number of viewers has the ability to read lips.  While he certainly doesn’t share the criminal record that Rick Vaughn had compiled, one could easily see Balfour riding into Spring Training on the back of a Harley a la Vaughn.

Coco Crisp as Willie Mays Hayes

The image of Coco Crisp and all his little quirky movements at the plate immediately linked in my mind with the gyrations Willie Mays Hayes does when he comes to bat.  I wouldn’t be the slightest bit shocked to see Coco come to bat and bounce the knob of the bat on the plate and make it flip into his hand sometime, I’d very much enjoy seeing that.  Both Willie and Coco have a tremendous amount of speed and a little pop in their bats as well, although they shouldn’t rely on that as their primary means of production.  I desperately would like to see Coco play Black Thunder alongside Jesse Ventura as White Lightning as well, I smell box office smash!  Honorable mention to Jemile Weeks for his recent affection for hitting the ball in the air.

Yoenis Cespedes as Pedro Cerrano

“Straight ball I hit very much. Curveball, bats are afraid.”  Those words are interchangeable between the two.  At least if you ask advance scouts about Cespedes, all we heard was that he couldn’t hit a breaking ball.  I think he’s proven that to be something of a myth.  But the parallels between him and Pedro Cerrano most definitely exist.  If we start seeing Jobu in the locker room, we’ll know something is up.

Manny Ramirez as Jake Taylor

At the time Spring Training rolls around Jake Taylor is in Mexico somewhere until the Cleveland Indians came calling.  He had once been an All Star player, but those days were very far in the rear view mirror.  He simply wanted another chance to play.  Manny Ramirez was in a very similar situation, having been chased from the game after his second positive PED test, he was simply looking for a last chance.  The Oakland A’s came calling right on cue to give him that chance.  They both are aware that the end of their careers are painfully near, and have extra motivation to end on a positive note.

Josh Donaldson as Rube Baker

“I made the rooster!”  That’s what Rube Baker exclaimed upon hearing the news he had made the team.  He’s not exactly going to be confused with Craig Breslow, that’s obvious.  I cast Josh Donaldson in this role because I can imagine the same kind of excited exclamation from him upon being added to the A’s roster.  And Josh Donaldson putting the bat to the ball is equivalent to Rube Baker’s inability to simply throw the ball back to the pitcher from behind the plate.  Perhaps if Donaldson recites biographies of Playboy models while he’s batting he can become a .300 hitter.

Bartolo Colon as Eddie Harris 

Eddie Harris was known for using any and all substances to get a few extra inches of drop on his curveball.  Crisco on his chest or a little Tabasco sauce under the nose to get a little extra nasal lubricant for the ball, nothing is too crazy for him.  Now tell me you can’t imagine Colon doing the same thing.

Amanda McCarthy as Lynn Wells

Amanda gets the nod here for simply being the prominent baseball wife on the Oakland Athletics roster.  This was an easy casting.

Chris Townsend as Harry Doyle

Uncle Townie gets the part of Harry Doyle because he’s the most outspoken radio personality in the A’s family by a mile.  He may not be as bitter, as old, or as drunk as Harry but he certainly has no problems saying exactly what he is thinking.  I for one appreciate that fact, and am glad to finally give Chris his big Hollywood break.

I wasn’t able to find a satisfactory person to play the part of the prima donna 3rd baseman Roger Dorn, so I put the question out to the people, who would you cast in his part?  The biggest reason I like this comparison is the simple fact that the Cleveland Indians shocked the world by winning their division.  I don’t expect that to happen for the A’s, but wouldn’t it be nice if they banded together to make some serious noise and throw it in everyone’s face?  It’s the kind of thing Randy Newman could write a song about.

Check me out on Twitter @SeanD25, see my take on everything else baseball at Baseball Obsessed, and follow everything Swingin’ A’s @FS_SwinginAs.