The Oakland A’s did it again last night, winning in dramatic, walkoff fashion against their division rivals from Anaheim. The A’s, again, paired stellar starting pitching with super defense to hold the Angels to just a single run (which came courtesy of Mike Trout. Even the A’s witchcraft has its limits.)
The A’s held their division lead at 6.5 games as the Texas Rangers conspired to win a game for the first time in more than a week, though their magic number is down to six (a combination of six A’s wins or Rangers losses gives the A’s the West division crown.) The playoffs are a near certainty for these Athletics, now. And for good reason, they’re a terrifically-run organization that makes savvy moves and astute pickups with alarming regularity.
Like the Rays in Tampa Bay, it is a shame the A’s brilliance on the field is not matched anything else to do with the franchise. Most non-baseball things around the Oakland A’s are just, well, depressing.
Hearing there's a sewage issue in the A's dugout, which explains why all of the players are sitting on the top step.
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) September 18, 2013
The above was sent out last night, in the middle of a tight game featuring some of the best players in baseball. The A’s, rather than figuring out how and when the Angels bullpen would implode, had to scurry like rats away from a dugout awash in sewage. If they seemed calm, it is only because sewage is not a new problem for the A’s to consider. The visitors clubhouse filled with sewage earlier this season, causing the Mariners to share the home team’s shower facilities after a game.
Which it say nothing of the actual quality of the playing surface at the O.co Coliseum this week. The grounds crew deserve praise because, before the A’s and Angels hooked up on Monday night, this is what the stadium looked like on Sunday afternoon.
The diamond at O.co Coliseum pic.twitter.com/9LKuVIRCqj
— John Oehser (@JohnOehser) September 15, 2013
All their hard work resulted in a field that looked like…this.
But onward and upward for the A’s, who announced their playoff ticket plans this week. The good news: They might take the hideous tarps off the upper decks and increase the capacity for what we are to assume are incredibly important and compelling games! Unlike last season, the A’s will make these extra seats available for all playoff games, not just those in the championship series and beyond.
Selling tickets is a real problem for the A’s in spite of their continued success on the field. They have sold just 63% of their tickets this year, according to ESPN. This after making the playoffs last season and spending much of this year at or near the top of the AL West division. The tomb-like conditions at the O.co make it difficult for anyone to wilfully take in an A’s game. Add the nearby San Francisco Giants and their paradise by the Bay and you end up with a second-rate product, one falks are no clamboring to splash cash for.
There is a line in Fight Club that goes like: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” This, to me, describes the A’s. Their business model (no fans? No cares!) allows them to operate freely without toooooo much consideration given to “consumer confidence.” They have nothing to lose and Billy Beane and friends have the guts to make big deals, to throw money at Yoenis Cespedes after trading their two best starters.
They are free. Truly free. And the incredible collection of castaways and platoon guys are the result of a brave front office operating with a net made of ambivalence. The A’s are a marvel but also a curse. Such a beautiful baseball team…wasted on empty green seats in the shadow of Mt. Davis. It’s a shame, thoug one with a possible resolution in sight. The next hearing between the A’s, San Jose and MLB is scheduled for October 4th. This team deserves a city to love it and treat it right, even if that future outcome eventually robs them of what makes them special today.
And the rest
John Sterling has STILL GOT IT! [Baseball Nation]
Robbie Ross, never forget.
All the fastball news that’s fit to print [Baseball Analytics]
Stat of the Day: Cleveland has turned 7 Houdinis (escaping a bases loaded/no outs scenario scoreless) this year, tied for most since 2002.
— John Dewan (@FieldingBible) September 17, 2013
John MacDonald, always a mascot, never a bride. [ProJo]
Do pitchers have a speed limit? [New York Times]
Feedback welcomed on this infographic that looks at 2 teams with among the best/worst 1B defense via advanced stats pic.twitter.com/B1bnansbec
— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) September 17, 2013
Does this visualization of first base defense make sense to you? Let Mark know! Personally, it certainly helps spell out the impact of good defense.
Here’s to three straight 100-loss seasons! The right way, indeed.