Sep 28, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) and catcher Geovany Soto (17) celebrate their win over the Texas Rangers during a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Athletics clinched a wild card with the win. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
I want to believe.
I’m not talking about Stephen Vogt, either. I’m talking about his employer – The Oakland Athletics. A team which narrowly avoided perhaps the most infamous collapse in baseball history, is currently alive and well and heading to Kansas City for a small market showdown. Over a two month period, the unforeseen struggles of Oakland divided the loyal fan base into contingents of furious dissenters, confused middlemen, and dwindling devout followers who worked with great fever to keep hope alive. Further complicating matters, a recent expose penned by Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group, brought forth the revelation that things aren’t quite so peachy keen in the A’s historically tight clubhouse. All these questions, and so few true answers created a near apocalyptic mix of humiliation, disappointment, and on-field chaos.
In many ways, the term “pressing” seems most appropriate. “Pressing” to find their identity following a groundbreaking trade. “Pressing” to keep up with the genetically superior Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. “Pressing” to spark something out of their pop-gun offense, and finally “pressing” to fulfill everyone’s expectations including their own.
For the first time in the post-Geren generation of Oakland baseball, the Athletics were no longer underdogs. 2012 was magical, and while 2013 proved that the season before was no fluke – this year was suppose to finally be our time. For the first half of the season it appeared that everything was in it’s right place. Wins were so commonplace they were nearly boring. The crew in right-field made the rounds nearly daily on primetime television with their frantic antics and creativity. All was well in Oakland, then dark skies moved in and looked like they would never leave.
While many will point to the “Curse of Cespedes” – in actuality, the perfect storm of injures, bad luck, and missed opportunities were the true culprit.
But that all in the past now. The Athletics have survived, and when Jon Lester takes the ball on Tuesday night at 5:07 PM PDT he’ll do so with a clean slate. No more whispers, and no more jokes. No more months of ten losses by a single run, and no more Jerome Williams masterpieces and Tyler Flowers walk-offs.
With that said, Oakland may have backed into postseason play – but they are very much “back in”.