In a move that was expected, although perhaps not quite this early. Our own Andrew Brown wrote that both Dallas Braden and Joey Devine were atop the list of expected non-tenders for the A’s when the deadline comes in December. Before he could even get that list published though, the A’s jumped the gun and outrighted both of them off the 40 man roster, and they both elected free agency rather than accept Triple A assignments.
It’s really hard to imagine Braden especially wearing another uniform, but the chances of that happening are very real now. Braden was never the most gifted pitcher, but his grit and determination along with a heart the size of Stockton always kept him in games. He went from garbage time long reliever, that guy who you never wanted to see unless the game was way out of reach, to the emotional leader of the A’s pitching staff. It was an unexpected, yet extremely gratifying transformation to witness.
Of course Braden will be most fondly remembered for two events during his time in Oakland. The obvious one was the Mother’s Day 2010 perfect game Braden threw against the Tampa Bay Rays that tugged ever so hard on the heart strings of A’s fans everywhere. I remember being at my own mother’s house, and seeing the ESPN text that Braden had a perfecto through 6… my heart skipped a beat. I thought to myself, “That’s pretty cool, but no way he’ll get it done.” Then alerts after the 7th came along, I started to get nervous. I told my mom we had to put the game on but wasn’t at liberty to say why. After the 8th inning, I frantically tried to call my fiance (now wife) and tell her to turn the game on and not ask questions. I sat there infront of the television, strangely nervous yet confident about what was happening. I watched with tears in my eyes as Gabe Kapler grounded to Cliff Pennington, on to Daric Barton to record the 27th out. I was speechless, it was amazing. And I still feel those same emotions just thinking about it as I write this.
The other notable event had little to do with the game itself, but with Braden fighting for the respect that he and the Athletics deserve. The epitome of “have” Alex Rodriguez, on the team that epitomizes that same thing disregarded etiquette and jogged directly over the pitcher’s mound after the 3rd out of an inning had been recorded. Braden didn’t take kindly to that blatant disrespect by A-Rod. He shouted at him to get off his mound, and was pompously brushed off with a waive of the hand. Braden wasn’t backing down, and continued to shout in his direction. The confrontation made national headlines, Braden stood his ground against the high and mighty Alex Rodriguez and lived to tell about it.
Joey Devine was the main piece acquired in the trade that ended Mark Kotsay‘s tenure with the Athletics. He might be best known for giving up the walkoff home run to Chris Burke in the 18th inning of a game in the 2005 NLDS for the Braves, or maybe for his microscopic 0.59 ERA in 2008 with the Athletics. Either way Devine’s story of talent and potential not met because of injuries is a pretty heartbreaking one. He’s battled back from Tommy John surgery, only to require another. This one was enough to end his Athletics career.
Both Dallas Braden and Joey Devine are good people, easy players to root for. Maybe a change of scenery will be what is necessary to get their careers back on track. Or maybe the A’s will bring them back on minor league contracts that will allow them to gradually work their way back to the Major Leagues. Either way, they will always have fans in Oakland, and we’ll be rooting for you all the way (as long as you don’t sign with the Giants, Angels, Rangers, Yankees, or Red Sox).