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Column: A’s write a script good as “Moneyball”
Forget the movie about these Oakland A’s. Already been done and, besides, Brad Pitt has moved on to other things.
No one would believe this anyway, even if it came from a Hollywood script.
The events that unfolded on a sun-splashed afternoon Wednesday in Oakland should never have happened _ they shouldn’t have had a chance to. Once they did, there was no way even Hollywood could imagine this ending.
Win a division when you’ve got the lowest payroll in the majors and a starting rotation filled with rookies? Finish it off with a three-game sweep of the mighty Texas Rangers to grab the lead in the AL West for the first time in 162 games?
Do it by rallying from a four-run deficit to tie, only to be handed the lead all nicely gift-wrapped by Josh Hamilton?
Keep this up, they may start removing some of those green tarps from the empty seats at the Coliseum. Heck, they may even force the ownership of the A’s to stop coveting that new stadium all the way out in San Jose.
I know one thing. It will take a brave gambler to bet against these A’s somehow finding a way to cap it all off by making their way to the World Series.
Speaking of which, could it somehow be possible? A Bay Area World Series for the first time since 1989 _ only this time without the big earthquake?
The A’s had just celebrated two nights earlier, with a whipped cream pie to the face of manager Bob Melvin and a clubhouse party the likes of which these youngsters had never experienced before. Making the playoffs for the first time since 2006 should have been good enough, but the kids just didn’t know when to quit.
So they celebrated even harder less than 48 hours later, after beating Texas 12-5 to cap a run from 13 games back to capture the AL West title and become the most improbable $59.5 million payroll division winners you’ll ever see.
Let Texas experience the nervousness that comes with a one-game wild card playoff. The A’s like their chances in a longer series, even though they start in Detroit with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the AL Central champion Tigers in the other dugout.
And why not? Since the first of July, this team has been winning two out of every three games it plays. That’s the best mark in baseball, made even more remarkable by the fact that Las Vegas oddsmakers, who usually know a few things about talent, had the team at 100-1 odds at the All-Star break to win their division.
“We’ve enjoyed every step of the way,” said first baseman Brandon Moss. “There was never any pressure on us. We were supposed to lose 100 games.”
This wasn’t a “Moneyball” team, nothing like the clubs that Billy Beane put together with smoke and mirrors and little money celebrated last year with Pitt playing the general manager’s role on the big screen. It was more of an accidental contender, never expected to play a starring role in a division that featured the Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels with Albert Pujols.
Beane had traded away the team’s top two starting pitchers and its closer for a collection of prospects and castoffs. Despite the signing of Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, it looked like the A’s were trying to build a team for a few years down the road, when team ownership hoped they would be playing in a new stadium in San Jose.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
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