It all depends on how you look at it. Some might see the 2013 season as a successful one, the team won 96 games in the regular season, and repeated as AL West Champions. Seems like a pretty strong case right out of the gates. Others though might view the season as a failure, simply because this team had expectations – from the fans as well as from themselves. This team didn’t shock anyone by making the playoffs, and they were supposed to get out of the first round this time. It didn’t happen.
What was supposed to be an incredible run deep into October, through criticism and jokes about the stadium and its plumbing problems, turned into yet another small taste of playoff baseball. The O.co Coliseum was rocking for the three games it hosted, but two out of those three games the 48,000+ crowd was sent home disappointed. This includes of course the winner-take-all game 5, in which Justin Verlander blanked the A’s for the second straight season in eliminating them. Last year the biggest moment behind the game 4 walk off win was the appreciation by the fans put on display after the final out had been recorded in game 5. The fans cheered, and chanted “Let’s Go Oakland!” as the A’s players acknowledged them from the field as the Tigers celebrated their victory. It was a truly special moment, and we were all just happy to be there.
That was the approach many fans took in the aftermath of that loss, after the team had been expected to languish in last place, a playoff berth was like playing with house money. While it certainly hurt to see them lose, perspective soon set in that allowed everyone to appreciate what an amazing run it had been.
This season didn’t have that same feeling. While there was a smattering of fans who expressed appreciate for another fun season, many were simply disappointed that the team failed once again to advance in the playoffs. I had this team making it to the ALCS this year, both in preseason and in predictions before the playoffs. This team had developed a level of consistency throughout the season that seemed to have it poised to make some noise in October.
They seemed to have a formidable rotation with Bartolo Colon, Sonny Gray, and Jarrod Parker leading the charge, but as we have found out in the week since their demise, Parker was suffering from some forearm soreness and Gray suffered a torn ligament in his thumb during his game 5 start. Those injuries might have hampered the A’s in the ALCS had they advanced in the first place, but it still would’ve been nice to be there.
The expectations of this team were high, and as far as the regular season goes they exceeded those expectations with room to spare. But they reverted to many of the tendencies that befell them in the 2012 ALDS, and that is what cost them in the end. Failure is a particularly strong word to describe a 96 win season for a team with a low payroll like the A’s, but that isn’t an excuse, and therefore the word is appropriate to describe 2013. Surely it was fun, but their elimination left a bad taste in our mouths, and that can only be alleviated by a trip to the ALCS and beyond.