THIS TEAM REPRESENTS THE TRUE VIRTUES OF SPORTS
Can this get any better? Well, if you have been following this team for awhile, the logical answer would be, “Why, of course, it’s what they do.” Not that there’s much logic being entered into the equation lately. At this point, you have probably been inundated with all the improbable factoids about this Little Team That Could. Thirteen games back in late June. Five games back with nine to play. Leap-frogging the two AL West behemoths—one a team that dominated Winter Meetings headlines by signing the top hitter and pitcher on the free agent market, the other the two-time defending American League champions—to plant the division banner on the Coliseum pitching mound at game’s end Wednesday. It was the same mound that the ski-goggled Jonny Gomes used as his personal playground after the game, conspiring with the A’s grounds crew to spray his teammates with a power hose full of water in full force.
And talk about full force. How about the 36,000 fans that crammed into the O.co Coliseum? Could it have been any louder? Even Grant Balfour got shouted down. Now, all these great storylines will be introduced to the nation, as our A’s head to Motown to start the AL Division Series with the Tigers at Comerica Park Saturday. While there’s plenty to enjoy on many levels, to me, the essence of the 2012 Oakland A’s is this: If you appreciate the true virtues of sports when it’s played at its very best, then you’ve got to love this spunky group from Oakland. At the risk of burying you in time-honored clichés, let me explain why I feel this way. This team represents so many good things, many traits that have gotten lost in the high-priced world of professional sports: teamwork, personal sacrifice for the greater good of the team, deep self-belief, bouncing back from adversity, trusting your teammate, hustle, tenacity, mental toughness, lacking egos, playing the game for the fun of it. Somehow, when you watch this team, you can actually feel the purity of the sport emanating from the field.
In speaking with Brandon Moss and his family after game, we had a brief heartfelt discussion about how far we’ve come, and how far we may still go. As one of the league’s hottest hitters sat, exhausted, on the stairs above the clubhouse, I told him the beauty of all this is we don’t have to change a thing. There are no mysteries ahead. We will be playing the best teams in baseball, much like we have done during the past month. There is no need to change our strategy or style of play. We just need to keep
doing what we’ve been doing. And if you’re an A’s fan, that should excite you. After all, our players already know they are capable of continuing this magic carpet ride. And why shouldn’t they feel that way? They’ve been doing this for most of this season.