Billy Beane

A perfect weekend in Oakland

There are two full months of regular season baseball remaining. Most teams have realistic or possible designs on procuring a postseason spot. Two wild cards in each league means there’s hope for almost every franchise, outside of a few pathetic teams. As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, the Oakland A’s are one of those squads who will firmly fix their collective gaze upon greener pastures beyond 2015. But that doesn’t mean they won’t win a game or a series between now and October.

The ticket prices remain the same in Oakland whether the A’s are the best team in the league (July, 2014) or the worst team in the league (July, 2015.) When hard-working folks give up a sunny weekend day to come watch Major League Baseball in person, the nine guys between the lines better give a full effort. And it’s not just a value-for-money situation, as every ball player is constantly in a virtual shop window and is being evaluated by every team. Dogging it or “mailing it in” is never an option unless you want a short career in the game.

So as the A’s began the weekend on a somewhat sour note with the Cleveland Indians, there were still plenty of butts in the seats at the Coliseum, and not one fan wanted anything less than victory. Only the impossibly optimistic or the youthfully näive figure the A’s have a chance at the playoffs — A’s fans aren’t stupid. But they also aren’t about to willfully waste their time or cash on crappy baseball. They wanted some feel-good moments in this lost season. After three seasons of playoff baseball, they craved little windows into that sort of excitement. Luckily, it turned into a very nice weekend for the Green & Gold.

On Saturday the A’s started a pitcher with a big league career ERA over 20.00. Aaron Brooks, a throw-in in the Ben Zobrist trade to Kansas City, not only got a promotion from AAA, he got a debut start for the A’s. The biggest name in the Zobrist deal, and the best prospect Billy Beane has received in the recent trades, is pitcher Sean Manaea. Brooks was just “a guy” who showed some progress for the Storm Chasers but not the Royals. So with one eyebrow raised, A’s fans rightfully didn’t have high hopes for Brooks on Saturday. But as we know, sports is not played on paper, and Brooks was outstanding, giving up only one run in 7 1/3 innings. He got his first big league win, his first Gatorade bath, all in front of many proud family members and his tearful mother. It was a great day and reminded us that it’s still just a kids’ game, and also that the toothless A’s will occasionally give an opponent a good gumming.

Yesterday Oakland sent their superstar ace Sonny Gray to the bump. He stumbled a bit in the beginning but still put in a great start and deserved better than a no-decision. The game was a snoozer for hours but ended in the best possible way for A’s fans, with a walk-off hit by Mark Canha in the 10th inning. Cue more Gatorade dumping and add a shaving cream pie. It was also meaningful because it was Sam Fuld who had previously singled and ended up scoring the winning run. Both Canha and Fuld have been awful for the A’s this year. Fuld can play defense but this isn’t football — it’s a two-way sport and he cannot hit. Canha is an unbelievable waste of space but luckily rides the magic carpet of being a Rule-5 guy. It was a nice moment for both of these players, as they continue to grind and try to stay in the majors.

There is a lot of A’s baseball left to be played, and a lot of fun still to be had at the Coliseum. Thanks for the reminder, fellas.

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