It’s been over 24 hours now since Justin Verlander got Seth Smith to ground out softly to Omar Infante to officially put the 2012 season to rest for the Oakland Athletics. It’s been quite a weird feeling to think that we won’t see our boys play again this year. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the end of the season, and it certainly could’ve been worse (Just ask the Washington Nationals fans how they’re feeling at the moment).
Everyone knows the 5 stages of grief people deal with when dealing with loss, and I’ll preface this article by making sure to state that in no way am I comparing the A’s losing a playoff game to the loss of a friend or a loved one.
So initially as the game moved into the late innings, and it became more and more clear that the A’s were not going to make the same miraculous comeback they did in game 4 I hit my first stage of playoff grief: Dissapointment. The team had been on such an incredible run over the second half of the season, and seemed to be a serious dark horse to make a run in the playoffs. So the fact that their playoff run was almost ending before it really got going was a tough pill to swallow. The raucous crowds that had fueled the team to the 2 wins prior were powerless against the dominant Verlander.
Thinking about the way this series had played out and the chances the A’s had led me to the second stage: Frustration. There were many points during the series at which it seemed like the A’s were getting the short end of the deal. If it wasn’t the bizarre 2-3 format of the ALDS that had the lower seeded team begin at home, it was the gaping strike zone that was bestowed upon Justin Verlander, or simply the gaffes by the A’s that continuously let the Tigers take leads and ultimately win the first two games of the series, or perhaps the fact that Brandon Moss’ long fly ball in game 1 would more than likely have been a game tying home run had it taken place in Oakland. It just wasn’t meant to be, and that is definitely frustrating.
Much like the crowd reaction just after the game ended, booing the Tigers as they celebrated on our field and transitioning to cheers and admiration for the incredible season the A’s gave us. The third stage: Appreciation. As everyone knows, this team was expected to lose anywhere from 90-100 games by most experts (79-83 was my prediction) and shocked everyone by winning an amazing 94 games. It was easily the most fun I’ve had at the ballpark over the course of a season, and I’ll never forget it.
One of the best aspects of this season is the fact that they didn’t reach the accomplishments they did through dumb luck. They really did have talent, leading to my fourth stage: Optimism. The fact that such a large part of this team were rookies means they are also under team control for a number of years to come. And one can expect their experience will only serve them well as the 2013 season rolls around. While it’s reasonable to expect some level of regression from some, hopefully not to the extent we saw with Jemile Weeks this year though, most of them should improve upon their 2012 stats. This is a team that absolutely can expect more success in 2013.
The fifth and final stage of playoff grief is drawn directly from the fourth: Anticipation. It’s only been a day since the season ended, and I can’t wait until Spring Training starts up in February. I can’t wait to head down 880 to the O.co Coliseum and see our boys in green and gold take on the Seattle Mariners (again). I can’t wait to ride the wild roller coaster that is the 162 game MLB season again in 2013.