Cut4 2014 Postseason Primer: Oakland Athletics
From 30 World Series hopefuls, only a few remain. In case you haven't been following every contender, here's a catch-up on what you missed and what to expect next. In this edition: The Oakland Athletics.
After a hot first half and 140 days atop their division, the A's went 22-28 in August and September, creating doubts as to whether they'd see the postseason at all. But come on, do you think Brad Pitt would let that happen?
In true Academy Award-winning narrative structure, the A's waited until the last game of the regular season to clinch a postseason spot. Here's a look at what finally got them there.
5. Beard magic
Sure, a lot of teams are superstitious about their facial hair. But the A's are the only team consciously using it as a conduit for win-producing witchcraft. Behold Sean Doolittle's beard vortex or Josh Reddick's beard-stroking, walk-off summoning spells:
Access to that kind of power is a great responsibility, only to be used for the bettering of humanity and making deep postseason runs.
4. Keeping us on our toes at the trade deadline
When we were all pleasantly cocooned in our beds on the morning of July 31, Billy Beane was making phone calls. Before most of us had even made our coffee, much less had time to spit it out in shock, he had moved Yoenis Cespedes for Jonny Gomes and Jon Lester:
Trying to confirm, but hearing Lester and Gomes might be moving for Cespedes- Alex Speier (@alexspeier) July 31, 2014
Well I am awake.- Sonny Gray (@SonnyGray2) July 31, 2014
And Lester has not disappointed. In 11 starts for Oakland, the lefty has posted a 2.35 ERA and a K/9 of 8.3. In what could be dramatic foreshadowing, here he is striking out nine over six innings in Kansas City back in August:
As for Jonny Gomes? (See -- beard magic):
Plus, there's also this other guy they picked up earlier in July with a 3.14 ERA and 99 strikeouts over 111.2 innings pitched -- Jeff Samardj -- Samarji - Samardysg --
Well, anyway, he's pretty great:
3. Josh Reddick's sultry walk-up music
In May, Josh Reddick starting walking up to the plate to the sax intro of Wham!'s "Careless Whisper," sending fans into transports of delight. Or whatever this is:
It even made some of the Oakland faithful rediscover their love of music (read: decide not to donate that old marching band instrument after all):
2. The support of the animal kingdom
Sure, human fans are great -- they have opposable thumbs and the ability to hold signs - but they're so easy to trick:
Perhaps because of some kind of cross-species sympathy or because Sean Doolittle can talk to animals, the A's fan base spans the range of the mammalian kingdom, from the great:
To the small:
For no other team would a possum befriend a shark:
Samardzija says he needs to find this possum and give him a good name: "He likes me."- Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) August 10, 2014
But when the A's traded for slugger Adam Dunn, they lost touch with their monkey fanbase:
Jose Abreu has hit in 12 straight. He also got custody of Phil, the goofy looking monkey purchased by Dunn from Skymall, per Dunn- Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) August 31, 2014
Not sure how Dunn's gonna make up for that:
1. The rise of Josh Donaldson
Quick, according to Baseball Reference, who's second in WAR only to Mike Trout? Okay, the heading of this section might have given the answer away, so you get three guesses and the first two don't count. If stats aren't your thing, here's some anecdotal evidence:
Donaldson, who was drafted as a catcher, seems to be taking to the hot corner pretty well. With 20 Defensive Runs Saved and a 15.4 UZR, he's the best defensive third baseman in the American League:
He's so good, he barely has to try to defend himself from pies:
So, what can we expect from the A's this October? A few predictions:
"Careless Whisper" will put the entire opposing team into a new wave trance, leading them to shamble around the outfield like smooth jazz zombies, unable to field anything Josh Reddick hits their way.
Each member of the A's lineup will hit a hole-in-one home run, completing an entire round of long distance mini-golf before the postseason is over.
Coco Crisp will develop an entire second face on the back of his head, and the phrase "no-look" catch will lose all meaning to him. He will disorient the home plate umpire so completely that no ball pitched to him will be called a strike. He might also succeed in retrieving the sorcerer's stone, immortalizing the A's current lineup and playing in every postseason until the implosion of the sun.