ONE ALL-STAR SELECTION DOESN’T DAMPEN A’S FIRST HALF
If you’re the Oakland A’s, maybe one is, indeed, the loneliest number. Despite having the best record in all of baseball since June 1 of last year, we will send a grand total of one player to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York July 16. That one player will be 40-year-old starting pitcher Bartolo Colon. And oh how he deserves it. An eight-game winning streak, 11-3 record and AL Pitcher of the Month in June, Colon seems to have recaptured the form that won him a Cy Young Award in 2005.
Grant Balfour, who just tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley’s franchise record for consecutive saves, didn’t make the cut. That might be a first in All-Star annals, a closer with 40 straight saves who doesn’t make the team. Neither did third baseman Josh Donaldson, who leads the American League in game-winning hits and ranks among the Top 10 in batting average, doubles, RBI, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and multiple-hit games—not to mention Gold Glove caliber defense. This, despite being one of the league’s bona fide MVP candidates at the halfway point of the campaign.
It makes me think of those true-blue A’s fans who unfurl that banner out in the left field bleachers every game: “Respect Oakland Baseball.” But this is not a blog about sour grapes. All of the players who were named on the American League All-Star Team are certainly worthy. And in some ways, us landing only one All-Star is so Oakland. Maybe being located in a small city on the West Coast is a disadvantage for national attention. Or maybe the fact that we play so well as a team isn’t very sexy. In a lot of ways, we really aren’t about individuals. Instead, we’re about Donaldson and Jed Lowrie, who might just be the best offensive left side of an infield in the American League. And we’re about Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith and Chris Young, who might comprise the best overall outfield in the majors. Or we’re about Balfour, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolitttle, et. al., who arguably could be the AL’s premier bullpen. Same could be said for our starting rotation, which top to bottom, might be as deep as any team in baseball (BTW, does any other team boast a Brett Anderson or Sonny Gray in reserve?). Ditto for our bench, which for any given game might be Smith, Brandon Moss and John Jaso. Does any other team in the league feature such potent bats?
So, while I understand the teeth-gnashing and “we-wuz-robbed” cries coming from the Uptown District and other East Bay locales, don’t dwell on our scarcity of All-Stars. As A’s fans who have watched this team win a division title and take World Series entry Detroit to a final Game 5 last year, and then follow that up with their best start in 23 years in 2013, you know the deal. Under the vision and leadership of Billy Beane and Bob Melvin, this Oakland A’s team is about only one thing: winning. So when our boys return home next weekend to host the Boston Red Sox in a final three-game series before the All-Star Break, come out to the Coliseum and let them know how much we appreciate what they play—and stand—for. It’s a noble cause, one which may lead to memories much greater than an All-Star Game.