The fans in the bleachers are known for being a bit eccentric. This applies to not just the fans in Oakland, but really any ballpark. The most creative, boisterous, and rowdy fans tend to reside in the bleachers. So when you hear a round of cheers or boos coming from the bleacher section at a moment that doesn’t seem to fit in with the action on the field, it’s not necessarily a surprise. Last night, was one of the most important instances of this when, following on various smart phones, fans stood and applauded as Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland recorded the final out versus the Texas Rangers on a Mitch Moreland fly ball.
The victory by the Royals set the stage for the rest of the evening. While the A’s and Minnesota Twins played, the A’s reduced their magic number to clinch the AL West for the second straight year to just three. That number would fall to two as Tommy Milone and Evan Scribner mopped up an emphatic 11-0 victory.
The A’s can drop that number to one with a victory this afternoon against the Twins, and could clinch the title with a win and a loss by the Texas Rangers this evening. For some, it may come as a disappointment if the A’s clinch their title in the privacy of their clubhouse, or do so with the players relaxing at home. When you compare this year to the miracle run of 2012, it certainly does seem rather anticlimactic. But that’s really not a bad thing.
Last season, as the A’s ventured into the ALDS, they were really just happy to be there. That’s not to say everyone involved didn’t have eyes on the big prize. When Justin Verlander induced a weak groundout by Seth Smith to put the final nail in the A’s coffin, the fans stood up and cheered in appreciation of what had been a truly magical season that came out of nowhere. The team had been expected to be cellar dwellers, and they shocked the world by making the playoffs. This year has been much different. With expectations of contention, the ultimate goal of making the playoffs is just a stepping stone to something much bigger.
Fans may notice that the energy right now isn’t anywhere near what we all experienced last year, but that’s okay. Hopefully there is much more to celebrate as the A’s look to bring a fifth trophy back to Oakland. Today is just the first chance at taking the first big step towards achieving that goal.