The worst kept secret in the world of baseball has been the fact that the Oakland Athletics are simply playing bad baseball. Despite what the win/loss record might indicate, this has been going on for quite some time, and it appears as if the team is finally reaching their limit in how much frustration they can tolerate before action has to be taken. Quite frankly, it’s already been too long, but there are positive signs that this team will commit itself to improvement.
Aug 21, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin (6) walks off the field during the sixth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at O.Co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve had the opportunity to get a first hand look at the Oakland Athletics behind the scenes as of late through some work I’ve done on the side. This has granted me media access to the team, and it has been a fascinating experience to say the least. Unfortunately four out of the five games I have worked have been losses, so I’ve been witness to a lot of frustration from the team. The difference between a winning and a losing clubhouse after a game is staggering. After a loss, especially a frustrating one, you can hear a pin drop in the clubhouse. It’s actually quite uncomfortable because you can almost feel the tension in there. After a win, the vibe is understandably different; there’s music blaring, guys talking and laughing with each other, and smiles all around.
I was in Oakland for yesterday’s ultra frustrating loss and it was evident from the get-go that the frustration was at a different level. Typically, during Bob Melvin‘s postgame press conference he keeps everything on an even keel, and doesn’t display his anger about a loss. This was different, from the moment he walked into the room it was clear he was very upset. His answers were short, and he practically snapped at every reporter who asked a question. Normally, once it dies down he asks if we’re done, but this time it was Melvin who declared “that’s it” and proceeded to get up and walk out of the room.
The first question for Melvin dealt with the play at the plate and whether the runner was out or not, and Melvin said he was and then proceeded to rant a little bit about how poorly the team was playing. “Everything that we did today is what’s wrong with us. We didn’t add on early, we didn’t make big pitches when we had to, we didn’t come through in situational at bats. Ugly, ugly game for us.”
Right now the Athletics are playing some ugly, ugly baseball and they will need to get themselves pointed in the right direction if they want to remain in the race for the AL West. The Texas Rangers now lead by 2.5 games in the division, which isn’t insurmountable, but it feels like a lot more when you’re playing as poorly as the Athletics are. Whether it’s a big time acquisition on the trade market, or a big time call up from the minor leagues, it’s clear something needs to be done to shake up this team. If their plan is to hope to go on a miracle run like they did in 2012 to take the division title, they are only setting themselves and all of us up for a big disappointment