Holy exciting baseball!
So, lest you think I’ve been avoiding baseball all September because the Twins have been bottom dwellers, there are four September games I went to and never blogged, including my first game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. I’ll probably bullet point summarize them tomorrow — when there’s no baseball being played anywhere.
But ignore September — it’s October baseball, baby!
At the beginning of the year, no one expected the A’s to do much of anything. Moneyball was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but the actual Oakland A’s were predicted somewhere near the bottom of the AL West. At the end of June, they were 13 games back of league leader Texas. At one point, they were nine games under .500. The pre-season predictions seemed to be holding true.
And then came the second half of the season.
Somehow, the A’s came to life in a way that no one had predicted. (I like to think it’s because they picked up my former second-favorite Tiger, Brandon Inge.) They crawled back into the race and passed the Anaheim Angels and suddenly found themselves in contention for one of two Wild Card spots. After Sunday (coming soon: my summary of Sunday’s game), the A’s opened a series with the Texas Rangers, only one game back for the division lead and three games up in the Wild Card race. One win this week and they clinch a playoff spot. A sweep and they win the division title.
Obviously, you know because I’m writing this (and because you pay any attention to baseball at all), they swept. And I took the afternoon off to join the sellout crowd at the O.co Coliseum (still a dumb name). To save you from having to read my summary of the game (Sitting next to a drunk ADHD guy! Having drunk ADHD guy leave and be replaced with a more sane guy! Coming back from a 5-1 deficit! Coco Crisp’s double! Josh Hamilton’s error! Ryan Cook’s strikeouts! Derek Norris’s homerun! Bernie leans! Balfour raging! High fiving lots of random strangers!), here’s the video I took from section 114 of the final out of the game.
Apologies for the shaky cam effect — the adrenaline rush of the moment made it impossible to keep a steady hand, especially when I zoomed in. [YouTube’s video stabilization feature is amazing!] At some point, I might post highlights of all the pictures too.
Of course, baseball is still just a game. And even this joyous celebration was dampened this evening. On Monday when the A’s clinched a playoff spot, Pat Neshek — a fellow Minnesotan, former Twin, and current A’s pitcher — had to quickly fly out of town to join his wife who had gone into labor. A few hours after the A’s won the division, Gehrig John Neshek, all of 23 hours old, died suddenly. Neshek was always one of those baseball players who seemed more a fan than a celebrity — he used to keep a blog about all the baseball cards he collected. Hearing about his loss is just shocking and heartbreaking and makes celebrating a division title seem kind of silly.