What a difference three months of a site-crippling virus makes. When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed, the A’s had the best record in baseball and we all had front row seats on the delirious jet ride to immortality and a fifth World Series trophy in Oakland.
Things changed. And, per Oakland’s particular variation on Murphy’s Law (Dwayne Murphy’s Law? Donnie Murphy’s?), they changed in the most horrific fashion possible. All-Star Break dominance downshifted into a catastrophic string of one-run losses, and time better spent polishing up a spot in the trophy case was instead occupied with watching a four-run lead evaporate over two of the most depressing innings you’ll ever see, followed by three more depressing innings and Christian Colon streaking toward the plate.
All of this coalesced nicely into what was without question the worst A’s season of my lifetime. Which is weird, because this wasn’t anywhere close to the worst A’s team of my lifetime – I was alive in 1997, after all. The key difference between 2014 and 1997, however, and also between 2014 and 1995, and 1983, and 2008, was the dramatic loss of hope we experienced in 2014. And I’m not even talking about preseason hope, because I distinctly recall feeling pretty good about 2011 before that season started (y’all remember that season preview piece on the front page of espn.com, right?). I’m talking about joyous, well-founded-yet-still-wildest-alcoholic-dreams-type hopes built up over the course of three months of baseball – that’s a lot of baseball! – that got chipped away, bit-by-bit, over the subsequent three months of baseball. While Oakland fans are more than used to watching hope die right before our eyes, it tends to come all of a sudden – Giambi not sliding, T-Long not swinging, Reddick swinging when he shouldn’t have, etc. This prolonged torment was something new, and far more excruciating.
And the pain of this season is not the type of pain to fade away with next April, either. Past pains were assuaged by a hardy, turn-the-page mentality, and the knowledge that failure in one year doesn’t have to carry over into the next. Not this time. 2014 pain is a far-reaching pain, as we paid for the privilege of watching our favorite team burst into flames while falling off a cliff with our biggest-name superstar and the system’s top two prospects. That means 2014 doesn’t get to just die and stay buried, but instead gets to jump up out of its grave and haunt us all over again every time Addison Russell knocks one into the gap at Wrigley Field.
What I’m trying to say is that the 2014 Oakland Athletics season was what you’d get if you spent years in a lab genetically engineering the most heartbreaking, agonizing season possible, and then, as you’re about to turn off the lights and close the door on your way out en route to accepting a Nobel Prize and universal accolades for your historic success, you remembered to give the Giants their third world championship in five years. To give it a cherry, you know.
This is rapidly turning into the most depressing thing I’ve ever written for this site (which is particularly impressive given how many words I’ve devoted to professional wrestlers dying and such). And it’s not as though I’m offering constructive solutions or anything. But I’m fine with that. best domain name search tool . This is my exorcism. This is my therapy. This is me coping (in a much healthier way than this Cowboys fan). It heals me.
Not really. But let’s keep it going anyway! Here, in order of neither chronology nor escalation, is a brief list of the most horrible things to happen in the 2014 season.
- Geovany Soto, brought in for the express purpose of controlling the Royals’ running game, breaking his finger in the second inning of the Wild Card game, leading to the Royals stealing approximately 700 bases off of Derek Norris over the remainder of the game.
- Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, 2/5 of the projected Opening Day rotation, both getting sacrificed on the altar of Tommy John within a 48-hour Spring Training period.
- Jim Johnson.
- Josh Willingham – JOSH WILLINGHAM! – blooping one into literally the worst possible spot of the field in the ninth inning of the Wild Card game.
- Spending a week in a closet sobbing and listening to Sarah Maclachlan over and over.
- That time a month later I remembered this GIF and started sobbing all over again.
- A street hobo sneaking into the locker room dressed as Jason Hammel and fooling everybody for like a month and a half.
- Chris Young sneaking into the locker room dressed as Jonny Gomes and fooling everybody for the last two months of the season.
- That inanimate carbon rod sneaking into the locker room dressed as Jed Lowrie and fooling everybody all season long.
- Eric Hosmer, with a sterling .297 OBP and only six walks against left-handed pitching all year, gets two walks off of Jon Lester to go along with three hits and two runs scored in the Wild Card game.
- Alberto Callaspo playing baseball games. And getting paid for it!
- The future of the franchise leaving Sacramento for Chicago and Stockton. (And Nashville! Did anyone else notice this? Nashville!)
- Doing what we did to Adam Dunn. Poor, poor Adam Dunn.
- The quarter of an inch or so between Josh Donaldson’s glove and this ball.
. . .
. . .
Notwithstanding the foregoing, all hope is not lost for 2015. But that’s not the post I’m writing today. (In related news, all hope is indeed lost for 2016-2018. That is also not the post I’m writing today.) I come not to praise 2015, but to bury 2014. So I did it, now it’s done. Let us never speak of it again.
88-74, 2nd Place in the American League West, 2nd American League Wild Card Spot
Lost the Wild Game 9-8 in 12 innings