Remaining Loyal to the Oakland Athletics


Residing in Los Angeles, I get an interesting perspective on all my favorite Bay Area sports teams.

After the Oakland Athletics completed a two-game sweep of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodgers’ radio stations and LA sports pundits were ready to jump off a bridge.

Following the first game of the series where the Dodgers blew a late lead with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the A’s were described as “lowly” at least ten times in the first ten minutes by Dodgers radio hosts. They continued to pile on the A’s by saying how the Dodgers were expecting to go to Oakland for an easy series and take care of business without exerting too much effort.

As a guy who is still haunted by the memory of Kirk Gibson throwing a flailing swing in Game One of the 1988 World Series, I took some joy in hearing the lamenting and complaining of Dodger nation. But clearly the Dodgers and their fans are not familiar with the toughness that the A’s have always exuded. It’s that toughness that always has me believing and staying loyal to the A’s.

Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics /

Oakland Athletics

Whether they are winning or losing, the A’s have always had good chemistry. That togetherness has resulted in everyone believing in one another and squeezing out every bit of talent within themselves. These qualities have helped the A’s be classic overachievers and keep them competitive with their much spendier rivals. It really is quite amazing how the A’s are consistently relevant due to all the player turnover they go through because of their budget friendly mindset.

Say what you want about general manager Billy Beane, but who else could have done a better job with what he was given? It’s hard to see any other GM who has the guts to make unpopular moves to preserve the competitiveness of his club. There have been so many face palm trades and signings that Beane has made that have turned into, “Oh yeah I knew that was a smart signing/trade when it happened.” Riiiiiight.

The fact remains that Beane works extremely well with a small budget. People will continue to try to proliferate the Moneyball mentality, but the truth is that Beane has always had an uncanny knack to make moves right before they need to happen. A title continues to elude his GM resume, but as an A’s fan, I am thankful for not having to cheer for a team that plays like it’s payroll rank.

July 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It helps that the A’s also usually have players that are likable and fun to watch. Sonny Gray is a must see pitcher who should win the Cy Young Award. Josh Reddick has one of the most colorful personalities in the league. Stephen Vogt is the unlikely All Star. Sean Doolittle revels in interacting with the fans. The A’s have always had a very loose clubhouse, and it carries onto the field.

The signs are there for a bounce back year in 2016. What was one of their biggest strengths in recent memory, the bullpen has blown 18 saves thus far, tied for third-worst in the league. The A’s are a pitiful 13-27 in one-run games this year and are on pace to break the record for biggest win-loss differential in Base Runs data. Base Runs data basically measures your expected performance versus actual performance through basic pitching, hitting and fielding stats. The A’s are currently -12 in Base Runs data, meaning instead of being 53-69, they could be 65-57, and right in the thick of the AL West race. Throw in all the injuries the A’s have endured this year (AJ Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Coco Crisp, Doolittle, Ben Zobrist), and you realize why the A’s have not been able to pull off enough magic to stay in the hunt.

The 2015 season will result in disappointment once again for A’s fans like myself (better than losing a heartbreaker in the Wild Card game like last year perhaps?). But there are still plenty of reasons to keep cheering for the A’s, and eventually, they’ll put it altogether. Hopefully.

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