I really thought I was done looking back at the 2012 season, considering the fact that the Oakland Athletics will play their first Cactus League game of 2013 in a few days. But a tiny quote from Jonny Gomes, buried in the middle of an article by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports on the Boston Red Sox ruffled many a feather in the Athletics universe, and warranted a response.
The quote in question went as follows, “We won the AL West and went to the playoffs without a good team,” Gomes says. “It wasn’t.”
I’ll let that marinate in your mind for a moment.
When I initially saw this quote from Gomes my immediate reaction was that he was more or less a traitor to everything Athletics and that I was no longer proud to have graduated from the same high school he did. Jeff Passan himself clued me in to the error of that thinking with a simple tweet response to something I said, but that didn’t change the ridiculousness of Gomes’ comments.
It’s tough to say whether Gomes truly meant that the 2012 Athletics were just wildly lucky, and willed their way to a 94 win season just by the mere fact that they got along well, or if he was trying to simply state that the team overachieved. If it was the latter, he’ll get no argument from me. That team was picked by many to lose anywhere from 90-100 games in 2012, not win that many. So without a doubt they vastly exceeded expectations, but to say they did it by anything other than talent is disrespectful to the team and everything they accomplished. That’s not to say the chemistry of that team didn’t play an important role.
Jonny Gomes very much wanted to return to Oakland, but the acquisition of Chris Young sealed his departure. It came to be known later on that Gomes had been asking for the 2 year/ $10 million contract he eventually received from the Red Sox, which was too much money for a player like Gomes on a team like the Athletics. Perhaps there are some deep down hard feelings towards the Athletics for essentially replacing Gomes on the team with little hesitation. Only Gomes knows the answer to that question.
The fact of the matter is this, the 2012 Oakland Athletics were an amazing story, and the team did have an incredible chemistry, but that only takes you so far. The team pitched incredibly well, with young pitchers who will only get better as they gain more experience, they hit for power in a way not seen in Oakland in many years, and they dominated in the bullpen. Sure, they struck out more than any other American League team ever, but that doesn’t cancel out all of the positive aspects of the team.
We may very well be reading much more into this quote than is necessary, but at the same time it stems from a long history of the Athletics and their fans being disrespected by everyone from opposing fans, so-called experts, and even C.J. Wilson. So it needs to be understood that we’re all a little defensive sometimes. But that doesn’t tell the whole story here. Plain and simple, what we have is a lack of respect given to the Athletics across the baseball world. It’s nothing new, and it will probably never go away, and perhaps something like this can help fuel the team to prove that 2012 wasn’t just about good chemistry, that this team is now a force to be reckoned with in the American League. They may not succeed in the conventional fashion, they may not throw money at their problems like the Red Sox do, but they will continue to show everyone that they aren’t a fluke and should be taken seriously, very seriously.