October 03, 2012

Cornelius McGillicuddy would approve

Oakland is the first team to come back from five or more games behind with fewer than 10 games to play - outfielder Brandon Moss called the odds of winning the division "astronomical."

The A's held first place alone for exactly one day: Wednesday.


One has to admire the way they did it, like Inigo Montoya coming after Count Rugen.  The mighty Tolbert proposed a different cinematic analogy after yesterday's victory:

This determination - the sudden directionality and unshakeable resolve of the team - are utterly out of character for the Oakland side.  Once a majestic franchise, the A's have been the Flying Dutchman of the American League.  For decades they have drifted, going nowhere slowly and erratically, letting their glorious past recede into the mists of time.  The GM, celebrated in books and film, has delivered nothing - the last World Series was won 23 years ago.  When the team is bad, he finds young players and makes them stars.  When the team is good, he trades them away, an approach the A's have taken since the time of  Connie Mack.

The team's current owners are not in any way noteworthy, except for their obvious wish that the team were somewhere else, perhaps anywhere else.  They look wistfully toward San Jose or Santa Clara and dream of bleachers crowded with upscale yet ethnically diverse suburban consumers, cheering vigorously for advertisements played on the scoreboard.

But it is hard to blame.  Even the spiritual feel lost at the Oakland Coliseum.  Gertrude Stein knew what she was talking about.  Sparse crowds and the infamous tarp, only heighten the vertiginous effect.

I may have mentioned before Giamatti's line that baseball breaks your heart.  Here it is, a little more detail:
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.
And today, October 3rd, 2012, the Oakland A's play on.

Giamatti's grim prophecy will be true, eventually.  The A's, if we're honest, have been very fortunate to get as far as they have, and there is room for only one contestant to stand atop the podium at the end of the World Series.  And even if they surmount the obstacles and achieve the summit, winter will still come, and fans will be left with nothing but memories, and the brisk wind that comes off the Bay in January.  And, ultimately, the A's themselves will be gone, transferred by their corporate masters to a demographically more appealing market.

It will all come to pass, it is certain.  But the 2012 Oakland A's have built their season on two simple words, perhaps a motto, or even a mantra:

Not yet.


Blogger Laird of Madrona said...

Yes, I'm totally astounded. Go A's!

October 4, 2012 at 9:56 AM  

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