There really isn’t a more lofty goal than that. And it’s hardly something you can have the nerve to expect unless you’re the New York Yankees, or perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers attempting to impersonate the Yankees of a few years ago. The Oakland Athletics took the baseball world by storm in 2012 when they truly did shock the world by winning the AL West. Even the most optimistic predictions simply had them finishing ahead of the Seattle Mariners and out of the cellar in the division as the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers fought it out for the division crown. Didn’t quite turn out that way. We’ve spent nearly 3 months now examining every single angle of what took place in 2012, and at this point there probably isn’t anything we haven’t covered.
While the season shocked all of us, when you look at the season as a whole, it truly was not a fluke. They didn’t simply get lucky and catch lightning in a bottle. For all the praise and criticism alike that Billy Beane receives, he put together a nucleus for success that might be able to stick together for a while. It’s doubtful that even he thought it would come together as quickly as it did, but that doesn’t mean the intent wasn’t there. So it begs the question then, why can’t it be duplicated in 2013? Or perhaps be taken even further?
I don’t fancy myself a blind optimist, who thinks every move my favorite team makes is a stroke of pure genius, so I don’t see this as an instance of that. But for all it’s flaws, I think this team has perennial contender written all over it. The losses of guys like Brandon McCarthy, Jonny Gomes, and Stephen Drew certainly aren’t insignificant for a number of reasons, but they are not back breaking losses either. McCarthy comes with his concerns about his career long battle with shoulder issues, Jonny Gomes had a great season last year but was coming off a couple down years in the NL, and Stephen Drew is being paid more for his name value and past accomplishments than what he can bring to the table in 2013. So while it was sad to see them go, it was smart of Billy to decline paying their premiums. He’s made moves to address their departures in resigning Bartolo Colon, acquiring Chris Young, and signing Hiro Nakajima. In fact he may have improved on the whole with those moves.
A big part of 2012 as well was the fact that the A’s were winning with a crop of rookies. In 2013 that will no longer be the case, they’ve all experienced the pennant race and playoffs and will be better for it.
Early on in the season I wrote my own casting of the movie Major League starring Athletics players and personnel. I don’t take credit for coming up with the concept, but the castings were my own. Little did we know that the A’s were following the script so closely, winning the division just like the Cleveland Indians did in the movie. And just like Jake Taylor said before they went on their magical run to the playoffs, when asked what was left for them to do? “Win the whole f****** thing.”
Well, neither the Indians nor the A’s did that. But if you saw Major League 2, well…. you know what needs to be done then.
Let’s hope 2013 is as great a year as 2012 was for the Athletics and the fans. More memories, more walk offs (and pies), more Bernie Leaning, and 1 more championship. I have a good feeling about it.