Oakland Athletics: It’s time to slow down and enjoy the ride

The Oakland Athletics need a favor from the Boston Red Sox this weekend.

If the Oakland Athletics want to avoid a single game elimination Wild Card matchup in New York, they need the Boston Red Sox to sweep their three game series against Houston beginning tonight at Fenway.

With only twenty-one games left in the regular season, the A’s find themselves trailing the Astros by three and half games for the AL West crown.

Of the remaining teams left on Houston’s schedule, Boston represents Oakland’s best opportunity to gain ground as the end of the regular season approaches.

The A’s have put on an improbable performance so far this season. Considering the expectation of fans back in spring training was an outside shot at a .500 effort, we’ll certainly jump at a Wild Card appearance… but this A’s fan is feeling greedy.

I gave my summer to the A’s and in return they gave me hope, excitement, and a regular season I won’t soon forget.

Now, I want more. This team deserves the opportunity to be measured over a five game ALDS series.

With the third best road record in baseball (41-28), I have confidence the A’s can march into Yankee Stadium and leave victorious, but this team has been too good to have their season dismissed over the outcome of one nine-inning game.

The Oakland Athletics deserve the flexibility a five game series provides. I don’t want to see a 162-game body of work diminished because a Wild Card matchup was decided on one passed ball or an overthrow to first base. It wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of the greatness of this team.

I know we’ve scaled a mountain of doubt already this season, but let’s climb just a little further and stake our claim to the AL West crown. Let’s secure a five-game playoff series so we can let the rest of the country in on a secret Oakland fans already know… the best team in baseball plays in the East Bay.

21 games left

September is here. There’s no denying it. You can feel the crispness in the air that only autumn brings. Pumpkin spice lattes have returned. Halloween candy litters the store shelves.

Some people mark time with the change of seasons, baseball fans mark time with milestones. Four years ago the Oakland A’s lost to the Kansas City Royals in the AL Wild Card matchup.

It’s significant to me because four years ago this summer, I was watching my wife bring our youngest son into the world. Fast forward four years and here we are again. The A’s are marking time with another postseason appearance.

Each of you will have something different you associate this milestone with. For me, this season will represent the year my youngest son went off to preschool. As a father, it’s a moment I wasn’t prepared for.

You see, it wasn’t until I let go of my son’s hand so he could walk into his first classroom that I realized how guilty I was of looking towards the next milestone instead of enjoying what was happening right before my eyes.

The realization only grew stronger as I walked back to the parking lot for a quiet car ride to an empty home. My son’s life away from me had begun and I was left questioning whether I had soaked up every moment of his toddler life that I could have. If I did, it wasn’t enough.

Life is so unfairly busy. We hurry up to get this done so we can get that done. We hurry to get the kids to school so we can get to work. We hurry to pick up the children from school so we can rush home to have dinner. We eat dinner quickly so we can tackle homework and bath time. All in an effort to get everything done before bed so that we can wake up and do it all over again.

Things will get easier is what we tell ourselves in the middle of it all. It’s simply not true. Responsibilities lessen as you and your children grow older and it may feel easier, but it also means a part of your life is behind you and there’s nothing easy about that.

So what in the world does this have to do with baseball? Well, for starters, what I’m trying to get at is that A’s fan must enjoy THIS ride. For once, let’s not look towards next year or the year after, or the start of a new ball park for the City of Oakland in 2023. Instead, let’s embrace THIS moment and this season at the Coliseum for we know not when it may come again.

Let’s go to the ballpark and enjoy our friends and family. Let’s talk, and drink, and be merry over the life that is before us as our Oakland Athletics play out a David vs. Goliath theme.

Secondly, there are those in and around the game of baseball presenting solutions for a problem that doesn’t exist. Jason Gay, a sports columinst for the Wall Street Journal, posted this to his Twitter feed back on August 29th and it’s taken a week of thought on my part before I knew how to respond. Take a look.

For those who want the cliff notes, it’s a proposal that increases the competitiveness of games and decreases game time by reducing the number of outs for the team who finds themselves ahead in the game.

Sigh. I get it. Life is fast paced and baseball is a business. Can baseball attract more fans if the time investment wasn’t so great? Financially, it’s makes perfect sense.

Tonight, as I write this, let’s put the money part of this aside. The game isn’t dying. Baseball has stood the test of time and will be here long after you and I.

Can we leave baseball alone please? Can we allow catchers to run out as many times as they like to talk to a pitcher? Can we stop cutting down on the time of breaks between innings? Or on the number of warm-up pitches afforded to a player entering the game?

The average length of a baseball game in 2017 was three hours and eight minutes. Up from a two hour and forty-six minute pace back in 2005.  Fine. It’s twenty more minutes that I get to watch my favorite players or to be outside talking and laughing with my son.

Instead of trying to speed up the pace of play, can we sell baseball as a chance to slow down? An opportunity to take a break from the chaos we all face daily? A few hour window where we can get away from the laptops and the cellphones and share in some meaningful conversation with our spouses or our children or our friends?

Does everything have to be a race? There is no problem here to be fixed. Major League Baseball is a break from the madness that exists around us each and everyday. Let’s embrace it as such and relish in those few hours at the ballpark taking in a game.

Please baseball, allow us this one thing in life where we can sit back and relax. Don’t fall prey to the pressures of time. Let’s allow this game to be the one that doesn’t push the speed limit.

Rangers

Now that we’ve asked a favor of the Red Sox, we have to hold up our end. It starts with a three-game series against Texas beginning tonight at the Coliseum. Liam Hendriks has been named the starter so it appears as if Bob Melvin has determined tonight will be our third attempt at a bullpen game. May we have better luck than the first two.

Next: Bullpen games are an acquired taste

Enjoy the games this weekend folks. I know I’m going to. Moment by moment, with family and friends by my side. This September ride is going to be a sweet one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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