AL All-Star Game Win Sets Up A’s Quite Nicely

Allow me to be frank with you all, this year’s edition of the MLB All-Star Game was a bit of a snoozer.  There were only three runs scored, one on a sacrifice fly, one on a would-be double play ball, and the other an insurance run on an RBI double in the 8th inning.  The National League was held to a miniscule 3 hits, and was never able to get anything resembling a threat going as the American League defeated them 3-0 to snap their 3 game losing streak in the midsummer classic.  But while the game itself may have been a bit boring, there were many aspects of the game that will be memorable.

Of course, the man of the night was New York Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera, appearing in his final All-Star Game before retiring at the end of the 2013 season.  He made an entrance that will never be forgotten, jogging in from the bullpen to his familiar “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, he took the mound all by himself, with only Salvador Perez on the field with him as both benches stood and applauded him.  It was a great moment that will live on in All-Star history.

Jul 16, 2013; Flushing, NY, USA; American League pitcher Grant Balfour (50) of the Oakland Athletics throws a pitch in the 6th inning in the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics were represented in the game by only one man, the angry Aussie Grant Balfour.  In typical Balfour fashion, he walked the lead off hitter, but recovered nicely to induce a pop up, a routine fly ball, and finished off the inning by striking out Andrew McCutchen to escape the inning unscathed.  The way the American League was pitching tonight, anything short of a scoreless frame would have been an embarrassment.

So while the American League managed to scratch out just enough offense to win the game, the impact of that victory could very well be strongly felt in Oakland.  The Athletics are in first place at the break, with a 2 game cushion over the Texas Rangers, and appear to be just getting started in their success for the 2013 season.  With the AL win, the representative from that league in the World Series will gain home field advantage, and at this point I don’t think it’s too far fetched an idea to think that representative could potentially be the Oakland Athletics.

While something amazing as hosting Game 1 of the World Series is a very long way away, it’s an exciting scenario to consider.  Many A’s fans were either not born yet, or were very young the last time the A’s were in a position like that in 1990, and the rest have patiently waited over the last 23 years for another crack at the ultimate glory for their team.  This is a fan base that is famished for an event like this in their home ballpark.  Also consider the fact that it is conceivable that the O.co Coliseum could play host to the ultimate showdown in sports, Game 7 of the World Series.  A lot of things need to fall into place for that to happen, but it is time to start thinking about this very real possiblity.

The excitement we’ve experienced watching this team has only just begun, I firmly believe that to be true.  There’s no guarantee we will enjoy the ultimate payoff at the end of this road, but it feels pretty good to know that there is a definite chance that the pot of green and gold will be found at the end of the rainbow in October.

Topics: 2013 All Star Game, Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics

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  • zacman83

    I look at the A’s stats and I don’t see a dangerous chance of regression. Colon might come down a little, but he’s not likely to be suspended this season, if at all. Pitchers like Parker and Milone are doing about what we expected of them. Even if Straily or Griffin implodes in the second half, Brett Anderson should (fingers crossed) be back later this year in time to ease back into the rotation.

    Other than maybe Donaldson–who to his credit has been raking for a full year now–none of the batters are unsustainably productive so far. And look at Cespedes and Reddick and Norris and C. Young…don’t you think one or two of those guys is likely to heat up in the second half? Let’s say Cespedes puts up a .280/.340/.490 line. That’s a reasonable and significant bump from his .225/.293/.420 line so far, right? And what if Reddick continues to make decent contact to the tune of .250/.320/.440, up from .218/.300/.345 (which has already been trending up for a month from his putrid early-season numbers)?

    I think it’s entirely possible that the A’s put the entire AL, outside of maybe Boston, in their rearview mirror by September. Remember Oakland has 36 home games after the AS break against 31 road games. So even if we face tougher teams (though Melvin’s crew did pretty well in that stretch against Cincy/St. Louis/Pittsburgh/Boston), I like the A’s chances to win 95 games and the AL West again.