We’re all just stuck in the moment, aren’t we?
Flashback in time to Tuesday, October 8th. Game 4 of the ALDS. The Oakland Athletics had ignored all attempts by the Detroit Tigers to foolishly bully and intimidate their way to victory, by acts of bravado and insolence. Holding a resounding 2-1 lead in the series, the A’s had only to win the next day to avoid Justin Verlander and punch a ticket to their first ALCS appearance since 2006.
With the mortal Doug Fister on the mound for Detroit, it seemed like the Athletics were truly in the drivers seat provided that Dan Straily could contain the frustrated Tiger offense for just one more day. Coco Crisp continued to light the fire tripling to lead off the game, and scoring on a Jed Lowrie RBI single. The suddenly resurgent Lowrie, added a 2-run home run in the top the fifth inning with the ball landing just inches away from the glove of a leaping Torii Hunter. At this moment, it felt like it was going to happen. The Athletics were going quell all mentions of past playoff failures, and the progression that we’ve all been waiting for was happening before our very eyes.
Then everything fell apart.
With two on in the fifth, Straily made the mistake off coasting at 2-2 fastball to Jhonny Peralta. The mistake was not forgiven, and the Tiger left fielder deposited his offering over the left field wall. From that moment on, it felt as if the rug and had been pulled out from under the Athletics feet. The bullpen which was suppose to be strength, squandered a short-lived A’s lead as Sean Doolittle was inexplicably left in the game to face five consecutive right-handed hitters in the seventh inning. Nine outs away from victory and an ascension to the ALCS was suddenly stripped from their collective hands. A complete offensive failure in the top of the eight to cash in with the bases loaded and no outs, only worked to further bury the dagger. The vitriol largely sent towards Josh Reddick for flailing foolishly at 3-2 pitch far outside the strike zone, left even his most staunch supporters speechless and unable to defend him in his darkest hour.
An inning later it was over. A belated ninth inning rally fell short, after the combined efforts of Ryan Cook and Brett Anderson furthered soiled the afternoon with a mixture of command problems and flat breaking pitches. The game was lost, and for all purposes it felt as if the Athletics hopes and dreams had been severely diminished. By late Thursday night, they were completely extinguished.
So it goes. Another chapter of ALDS loss and heartbreak were written, and the positive feelings that accompanied last season’s exit were no where to be found. The series ending applause never truly came. A smattering of claps and salutes preceded the players exodus to the clubhouse, with nary a tip of the cap or a thank you to the crowd. Deserving or not after a 96-win season, an overwhelming sense of disappointment filled the Coliseum as “what if’s” and “should of’s” emanated from the departing crowd.
Reality bites. Each season, I hope for the exact same thing. A World Championship. It’s not about a parade, or the hat with a little trophy patch on it’s side. It’s not about commemorative DVD’s or t-shirts. It’s about having one season of everlasting brilliance that will forever stay with me. Maybe that sounds selfish, but I really can’t help myself. Until that day, it’s all just unfinished business.