Oct 3, 2013, 4:34 PM PDT
So, your team didn’t make the Major League Baseball playoffs. What a bummer. It doesn’t mean you have to pack away your love for the game and start watching football. Here are ten reasons (in no particular order) to root for the Oakland Athletics in the postseason.
1. They are eternal underdogs: The A’s have won the American League West two years in a row. They won 96 games compared to the 93 games the Detroit Tigers won. The A’s won the season series 4-3 over the Tigers. They have home-field advantage in the American League Division Series. The Tigers are still tabbed as favorites, though. The small market, low budget A’s always carry a chip on their shoulder. They are a blue collar bunch that wins with little star power. How can you not get behind that?
2. Moneyball: No, not the movie. The 2013 A’s are the most cost-effective winning team in Major League Baseball. The A’s rank 27th out of 30 in payroll. This year, they spent $631,922 per win compared to the $1,595,855 the Tigers spent. Imagine what the A’s could do if they actually had money. On the other hand, it would be less interesting that way.
3. Yoenis Cespedes: The 2013 Home Run Derby-winner possesses a jaw-dropping blend of power, speed and arm strength. He has all the flash of his fellow countryman, Yasiel Puig, without the ridiculous over-the-top flair. Cespedes has been nursing a sore shoulder, but the A’s say he is ready to return to left field for Game One of the ALDS.
4. Mustaches and beards: The A’s have a rich facial hair history. They’ve brought it back in a big way. The starting pitchers sprouted mustaches and the relievers went with beards. The beard contingent seems to be winning. Jarrod Parker, the A’s 2013 mustache originator just shaved his ‘stache and Game Four starting pitcher Dan Straily has joined the beard gang. Josh Reddick, the A’s’ gold glove right fielder is even engaged in a beard-off with WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan. The Red Sox and their beards are stealing all the headlines, but the A’s have been rocking facial fuzz since the 70s.
5. Nerd Power: How can you not like this guy? The A’s players have rallied around their bespectacled second baseman, Eric Sogard. He was considered a long shot to make the roster in spring training and then went on a torrid hitting spree that landed him the job. He ended up sticking with the team all season. He’s mild-mannered like Clark Kent, but flies like Superman on defense.
6. Who are these guys? Seriously: A’s manager Bob Melvin didn’t even know who Dan Straily was in spring training prior to the 2012 season. Now he’s starting Game Four in Detroit. Sean Doolittle, their electric lefty reliever, was drafted as a first baseman and ripped through the minor leagues in just 16 games after being converted to a pitcher. Brandon Moss led the team with 30 home runs and he was a minor league free agent outfielder that’s now their starting first baseman.
Josh Donaldson, easily their best player this year, was a catcher before a random injury to Scott Sizemore gave him an opportunity to try out third base. Heck, the A’s traded all of their all-stars prior to the 2012 season and still won the division.
7. Platoons: It’s a concept that has been around forever, yet, the A’s have found a way to exploit it to perfection. How are the A’s able to do what they do with such a small payroll? Answer: Platoons. They always play the matchups. When a lefty is on the mound, the A’s have a righty-heavy lineup. When a righty is on the mound all the lefties hit. The whole team has bought into the concept and no one complains when they are out of the lineup. Because of this, every player on the roster has to be ready to go every day. If a player doesn’t start, he can expect to pinch-hit later. It keeps everyone current and engaged and it plays to each member of the team’s individual strengths.
8. The Home Run Tunnel: The A’s have brought a little league celebration to the big leagues. Whenever a player hits a home run, they run through the outstretched arms of two rows of teammates in the dugout. At the end of each tunnel a custom handshake is waiting. The A’s started this tradition during spring training, when there were too many players around to get a high-five and or hug from each teammate. Tired of wasting time, they created a team-wide celebration to expedite the congratulatory process.
9. The Oakland Coliseum: Sure, the Oakland Coliseum is old and outdated. Sure, sewage occasional pools and festers. Yeah, it lacks the technology of today’s modern ballparks. Yeah, you can totally see the scars and yard markers from last week’s Raiders game spreading across the baseball diamond. You wouldn’t be wrong if someone told you that baseball’s commissioner recently referred to it as a “pit.” But it’s a great place to watch a baseball game. In Oakland, it’s all about the baseball. Not the experience. The “pit” is also one of the loudest venues in the game when full and the A’s have opened the third deck for the postseason.
10. Bob Melvin: The A’s skipper is a man of the people. He is cultured, sophisticated, polite and has a great sense of humor. He’s the perfect man for the job here in Oakland. He seamlessly bridges the gap between the intellectuals in the front office and the muscle on the field. Melvin is always upfront with his guys about playing time. He makes sure each player knows the day beforehand if they are starting and he puts up his lineup card bright and early in the morning. Melvin never scoffs at a ridiculous reporter’s question — and there have been many — and he treats everyone with respect. He gets the most out of his players because they like and respect him. There’s a reason this guy is a two-time manager of the year. Melvin grew up watching the A’s dynasty of the 70s and played for the Giants. Representing the Bay Area well means everything to him.
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