There is no doubt in my mind that Wednesday will go down in history as one of the greatest, most triumphant days in the history of the Athletics franchise. They overcame a 13 game deficit on June 30th to snatch first place from the Texas Rangers on the final day of the season and find themselves crowned the 2012 AL West Division Champions. I haven’t even processed the notion that they clinched a playoff spot in the first place, so this is just mind blowing to me. As the night wound down though we all saw the news from A’s reliever Pat Neshek himself that the baby boy he had left the team to see born had suddenly passed away. Suddenly the day’s events and the celebration that took place in Oakland seem so distant.
I want to send condolences to Pat and his wife Stephanee on behalf of everyone at Swingin’ A’s. It’s such a heartbreaking thing to have happen, and someone who has become part of the A’s family needs the support of all of us to get through this tragic time.
As the A’s clinched the division this afternoon, and throughout this entire run towards the playoffs over the last couple months I often thought about someone who I considered to be a friend who had passed away recently. This was my original premise for writing this article, and the news about Neshek’s newborn son just further cemented the notion of how secondary baseball can be, but at the same time just how much of a support system it can be.
As many of you may or may not know, my day job is working for a local coffee company in Mill Valley which is just to the north of the Golden Gate in Marin County. It’s an extremely wealthy part of a pretty wealthy county. For the most part the people I deal with on a daily basis are strictly on a coffee for money relationship, it begins and ends there. There are some though who have taken to chatting with me about baseball, knowing my love for the game and for the Oakland Athletics. Of those people, a select few share that love for the A’s that I do.
One of them was a man named Michel Aubert, seemingly a blue collar man living in the middle of a little white collar world. I’ll admit from the outset here that I don’t know a whole lot about his background, just piecing together bits of information I do know. Every day though he would come into the shop and get his coffee and we’d chat for a minute or two about the latest news and developments about the A’s before he went on his way.
It was a little sliver of my day at work, but it was one I always looked forward to. Michel spoke with a very heavy French accent, and admittedly some of the time I really had no idea what he was saying, but I knew without a doubt he was a big fan of the A’s. He cemented his place among my favorite people there one day when discussing something related to the A’s/Giants rivalry he remarked “I hate ze &%$#&% Giants.”
As this 2012 season we discussed what we thought we could expect from the team this year, and we both agreed that this team would outperform expectations (Not by this much though). As the season progressed I began to see him less and less, and knew that wasn’t a good sign knowing he was ill.
Michel left us around the beginning of the month of August and I can only imagine the conversations he and I would have had knowing how the final two months of the season played out. Seeing this team play as amazingly as they have, it almost makes you wonder if a little “Angels In The Outfield” action is taking place (See Josh Hamilton).
Regardless of your beliefs about the afterlife, or lack thereof, you have to think someone like Michel is really enjoying what is taking place in Oakland right now. And no matter what happens from this point forward, if the A’s get bounced in the ALDS by the Tigers, or if they take this crazy run all the way to the top, this one goes out to him.