It’s really hard to imagine a team that took the baseball world by storm, and definitely shocked everyone by winning the AL West, would continue to go unnoticed despite coming out on top. With goings on of this offseason so far, I figured that many experts might actually give the Oakland Athletics their due when it came prediction time for 2013. After today, I don’t think that will happen.
Late this morning the Angels took to Downtown Disney in Anaheim to hold their press conference to officially introduce their shiny new toy Josh Hamilton to the media and the world. Hamilton, his freshly bleached teeth, and his freshly spray tanned wife grinned with Angels GM Jerry DiPoto and owner Arte Moreno for the photographers. It was every bit as sickening for an A’s fan as the Albert Pujols/C.J. Wilson presser was last year. Not that I’m worried.
The MLB Network carried the entire display, featuring “expert” analysis from former reliever Dan Plesac. Obviously this was a broadcast all about the Angels, as they did sign the most sought after position player on the market, but I noticed in the conversation about the impact on this division that the Athletics were conspicuous by their absence. The gist of the conversation was that the Angels now had the most feared lineup in the division if not all of baseball, and the Texas Rangers were still “the team to beat” according to Plesac. Pardon me while I laugh uncontrollably.
I know the Athletics division title came out of nowhere last year, but that doesn’t mean it was an unrepeatable fluke. In fact I think the A’s are primed to make a serious run at a repeat performance (Of course assuming they sign a shortstop one of these days). So not to disparrage Mr. Plesac, but I chalk his analysis up to some good old fashioned ignorance.
This is not a bad thing though, while all of us who follow the team closely might have some sky high expectations for 2013, we won’t put the kind of pressure on this team that the national media might. Just imagine for a second the pressure the Los Angeles Dodgers will feel with their $200 million plus payroll, or the Los Angeles Angels now with Hamilton, or even the Toronto Blue Jays with their acquisitions of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes along with the possible acquisition soon of R.A. Dickey. Those teams are built, and financed to win right now and will be villified if they don’t.
The A’s are in a unique position right now where the window has been unexpectedly opened for perhaps playoff appearances and more, but the team hasn’t mortgaged its future to get to that point. As Casey Pratt tweeted, the A’s are lurking in the tall grass, stalking their prey. They will proceed in the dark, no one will even know they’re there, and they will strike, and nobody will know what hit them until it’s too late.