A few autumns ago, the Oakland Athletics failed to defend their back-to-back division titles in the American League West. The A’s led the MLB with 59 wins at the 2014 All-Star break, but were only a few games behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Oakland Athletics fell in a slump that lasted for the remainder of the season and eventually finished 10 games behind the Angels. Nevertheless, the A’s qualified for the second wild card spot in the playoffs. However, they lost to the Kansas City Royals in 12 innings. The Royals won 9-8 and advanced to play the Angels in the American League Division Series.
The Royals were one of the underdogs, but worked their way up to become the American League champions and ended up facing the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The Royals ultimately lost to the Giants in seven games, but they had a good run nonetheless. 2014 wasn’t their year, but Kansas City returned the following year with a desire to win. They defeated the New York Mets for their first championship since 1985.
I wasn’t surprised the A’s fell to the Royals in a close game because Oakland often put themselves in unbalanced situations where they score first, allow some runs, start to rally and drop the decision. The A’s are arguably one of the most bipolar teams in MLB history.
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Let’s rewind a minute to when the A’s went ahead 8-7 in the top of the 12th, but the Royals completed the comeback as Salvador Perez hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th for a 9-8 victory over the A’s. Perez lined a 2-2 slider from A’s reliever Jason Hammel down the left field line to score Christian Colon, who stole second base earlier in the at-bat after reaching on an infield single that plated the tying run. The thrilling moment for Perez washed away the memories of his two previous plate appearances, both of which ended in outs with the winning run on base.
A’s fans were heartbroken by the tough loss. The A’s didn’t make an attempt to turn things around in the 2015 season. The theory of “There’s always next year” wasn’t enough for the average A’s fan. The A’s could be labeled as the northern California version of the Los Angeles Dodgers because they’re far from a consistent team.
Royals fans, on the other hand, were celebrating the team’s first playoff run in 29 years. Their team went on to win the 2015 World Series, their first championship since 1985 and second overall. The majority of Kansas City sports fans waited a long time for this remarkable moment. Well, it was definitely worth the wait.
Perhaps the A’s can take some notes from the Royals to get back into the playoff picture. Sonny Gray remains an ace, however, he’s not really the face of the the A’s anymore. I’m aware the A’s have been making changes on a small budget, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.