This is a re-post from September 10, 2014. Enjoy.
What a month.
On August 9, the Oakland Athletics were on cruise control. Destined to win their third straight American League West championship. On their way to playoff domination.
It was pre-ordained.
But, there really is a baseball god. And he is spiteful as all get-out.
At the trade deadline the Athletics had just pulled off their second blockbuster deal to load up on starting pitching, while they were already loaded with starting pitching, by trading away their cleanup hitter, while they were already offensively challenged.
It was a bold move. Made by a man so innovative and so far ahead of the game, books are written about him and movies are made about him. Billy Beane is a genius general manager who is lacking one thing. A ring.
His teams are historically built for the regular season, but not for October. Usually they bow out in early disappointing fashion. Mostly to the Tigers.
So Beane set out to match the Tigers pitching. It looked like he had the Midas touch once again. But this team had a delicate eco-balance, and Billy Beane messed with it.
As a result, the Curse of the Cespedes hit.
This time he built this team for the playoffs, instead of the regular season. And his slip is showing.
Since beating Minnesota 9-4 a month ago, and pushing their record an impressive twenty-eight games over .500 at 72-44, the Oakland Athletics have the worst record in baseball.
Yes, that same baseball that includes the Texas Rangers.
Let me repeat that one more time for two reasons. One, you might not believe it. Two, it feels really good to write it.
In the last month, the Oakland Athletics have the worst record in baseball. Tied with the Texas Rangers.
That pitiful team from Arlington has actually played just as poorly as that pitiful team from Oakland, both going 9-19.
Oakland is seventy-eight square miles of crime and poverty and unidentifiable odor. Its official city slogan is, “Oakland. Have you been murdered yet?”
And now, for the first time in a long long long long long long time, the Texas Rangers own a small measure of bragging rights over the Oakland Athletics. They are just as bad as we are.
Okay, there’s another bragging point. Our stadium isn’t a toilet. (Insert snarky joke here about how, while our sewage hasn’t leaked into the clubhouse, it has leaked onto the field.)
How the tables have turned.
Just two seasons ago, when the Athletics came into Arlington, the Rangers were the team in free fall mode who ended up not making the playoffs. At least the Rangers got the wildcard game. The Athletics might not get that. Seattle is coming on strong. And this time Oakland won’t have Josh Hamilton in centerfield handing them a playoff spot on a silver platter.
A month ago, playing seven of its final thirteen games against Texas looked like a pushover for Oakland. Now, the Rangers have a chance to push Oakland over the cliff.
It couldn’t happen to a better team that is suddenly not better than the Rangers.
The grade for this period: A’s get Fs.