Since the Rally Possum’s last sighting, the A’s have gone 7-17, from a MLB leading 73-44 and a 4 game lead in the AL West to just 80-61 and looking up 6 games out – a 10 game shift in the standings. Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports
What was once looking like a “Hunt for the AL Pennant” for the Oakland Athletics has sadly now become “Hope and Hang On for a Wildcard” in what has become one of the largest slides in the standings reminiscent of the 1969 Chicago Cubs.
That year the Cubs had a superb first half of the season which saw their lead in the NL West as much as 8½ games. In mid-August, the Cubs’ record was a MLB best 84-52 with the Mets in second place at 77-55 – but then a losing streak began just as a Mets winning streak was beginning. From Aug. 14 through the end of the season, the Mets had an “amazing” 38-11 record while the Cubs record went 18-27 for the same period – starting to sound familiar A’s fans?
That year the Cubs also had a little creature of their own make an on-field appearance that fans latched on to, but not in a good way. In the midst of the season ending collapse, a black cat sauntered behind the Cubs on-deck circle at Shea Stadium where Ron Santo, the team captain, was standing and by season’s end, the Cubs finished 8 games behind the Mets and no playoff berth since there was no wildcard. In fact, that year was the first season of divisional play.
Fast-forward now to 2014 and the West Coast to Oakland on Aug. 4 where the A’s are a MLB best 68-43, leading the (insert preferred city here) Angels by 4 games in the AL West when the magical marsupial, which will erroneously become known as the Rally Possum, makes an appearance for an extra inning comeback win by the A’s.
The A’s go 4-1 and, if the guys in green and gold didn’t get intended message, the little guy shows up again five days later in a blow out game during a 9-2 lead that actually instigates the Twins to score some runs for a 9-4 finish.
With fans wanting to latch onto something good to signify this season as in past successful years with the Bernie Lean and Pie Walk-offs, it looks as if the uninformed – yes uninformed because the American version is actually an OPOSSUM – mistook the reclusive rodent singing its praise as a symbol of luck rather than a hex on the winning season. Since the little critter’s appearance (and dare I say “curse”), the Athletics entering today have gone 7-17, from a MLB leading 73-44 and a 4 game lead in their division to just 80-61 and looking up 6 games out – a major 10 game shift in the standings.
So yes, it was a curse, a hex, a hard luck sign of things to come. Don’t you know a possum is known for acting dead? It will roll over and give up when faced with a situation it doesn’t want to deal with such as being threatened or challenged by a competitor.
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the Yoenis Cespedes trade that did in this team. In the words of Yogi Berra, who was the 1969 Amazin’ Mets’ first base coach, “it’s déjà vu to all over again” that happened.
Let’s hope that if the A’s are fortunate to be playing in October this year a pest control company gets called in to 7000 Coliseum Way for not only some extermination but some local voodoo gets summoned to break the curse.