Who will Lead the Athletics down the Stretch?


Jul 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris (36) and relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) embrace as the leave the field after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Oakland Athletics won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We are entering the part of the Baseball Season where the Contenders and Pretenders are beginning to distinguish themselves. Most teams have 50 games or less left on their schedule and are looking for that spark that is going to light that fire for that needed Hot Streak. Usually the team that finishes the strongest is not only getting strong play on the field, but even stronger guidance in the clubhouse. The Athletics proved last year even with their youth and inexperience they could still rise to the occasion in high pressure situations.  What made their success possible was the clubhouse leadership they received from role players like Jonny Gomes and Brandon Inge. The question this year is, “Who will step up in that leadership role down the stretch?”.

Even though the A’s have the experience of going through a heated Pennant Race last year and coming out on top, they are still a relatively young and inexperienced team. With both Gomes and Inge gone now is the time for new leaders to step up. The A’s roster is filled with a lot of young players who are just getting their feet wet in the Majors and trying to establish their own identities. So expecting them to become leaders like Derek Jeter over night would be asking too much. Leadership by committee is the route the A’s need to take. They are not a roster filled with seasoned vets and playoff tested Stars with Championship experience, but they do have a few players who have been around the block that can show the younger players what it takes to make that final playoff push.

This is the time when players like Seth Smith, Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour and Coco Crisp step up and provide the leadership this young core group needs to make that final push to capture a second straight AL West Title. With less than 50 games left there are a lot of players running with an empty Gas Tank and starting to sputter towards the finish line. So this is when those Seasoned Veterans pull-up their young counterparts by the collar and hoist them up while looking them dead in the eyes and letting them know to “Suck it Up” there is a lot more work to be done and they have the will and drive to get it done.

These next 50 games will test these young A’s,  but if last year is any indication I expect them to rise to the occasion and provide the Bay Area with another exciting playoff run. So get ready A’s fans for another roller coaster ride filled with plenty of ups and downs, but hopefully the ups will lead the way to another October-September playoff run.