A’s fans deserve better, and so do the players.

August 1.

The symbolic date cueing impending fades.

While the big boys fatten up for October runs, the rest of baseball begins to splinter into the “thanks-for-coming” bin. Eventually that will include the Orioles and Toronto, while the Mets and Indians have already begun settling in for a nice, lengthy winter slumber.

Within a few weeks, the high-priced flops such as Boston and Philadelphia will continue their descent, open their eyes in a few months, and attempt to buy their way out of the recent malaise.

But what in the world happens with the Oakland A’s?

Unless you’ve witnessed this season firsthand, it’s nearly impossible to describe.

If the regular season ended today, the A’s, the team with no payroll, no established stars and sadly, an eroding fan base with decaying roots in the once sports crazy town of Oakland, would be in the playoffs.

Huh?

Let’s be incredibly frank about something: in the world of sports radio, ratings are undeniably bolstered by successful play-by-play properties. They create revenue and buzz, which leads to cume which leads to ratings. Now, they shouldn’t define a station. But a station with high-profile teams under it’s umbrella, basically becomes sports radio on steroids. Do you really think the station across the street has compelling, fresh content? They’re driven by the Giants and everyone knows it. Do they even know how to take a text message on air? Still, the Giants generate among the highest ratings in the business while the A’s produce near the bottom. Look it up. Fact.

Sadly, plenty of seats remain.

To a man, our entire station was lighting candles and holding vigils for a competitive start, maybe a little buzz before the first Bay Bridge Series. Anything to help bridge the unforgiving gap of a dead baseball season into NFL’s Training Camps.

And it’s not like we concealed our predictions from our audience. To a man, we expected anywhere between 90-100 losses and an early burial in the standings.

Anything else was derived from pom-poms, not logic.

Yet, they are 56-47, despite ranking 24th in total runs scored, 25th in OPS and 30th in batting average.

They’ve had five first basemen, or basically, one for each month: Allen, Barton, Ka’aihue, Moss and Carter and amazingly, it’s been the most productive spot in the infield by far! Scan around the diamond, and the numbers are frightening:

2B: Jemile Weeks .218

SS: Cliff Pennington .197, Eric Sogard .170, and Brandon Hicks .183

3B: Brandon Inge .219 (on pace for 408 AB’s/126 K’s)

C:    Kurt Suzuki .216/1 HR

Yet, they’ve delivered walk-off heroics at a staggering rate and have forced ESPN to temporarily shed it’s east coast bias to tell the amazing story that’s enveloped the East Bay.

Now, it’s not all magic wands and potions. Their pitching is terrific (what else is new), they catch the baseball, and they play hard. Repeat and rinse, and you’re bound to stumble upon a few wins. But a playoff team? With those offensive numbers? Find one team in baseball history that fits that script, I dare you.

Josh Reddick, acquired from the Red Sox this winter in the Andrew Bailey heist, has been terrific. He’s already cranked 22 HR’s in 381 AB’s, despite hitting just 10 in parts of 3 seasons in Boston. He’s provided a nightly threat for skipper Bob Melvin, regardless of what’s happening in front of him. His defense has been outstanding, and his post-game antics has created an Animal House atmosphere that fits this team well.

Yoesnis Cespedes, when healthy, has flashed a freakish skill set. His bat speed and power are simply awesome, and he runs hard. He’s shown surprising aptitude with pitch recognition and uses all fields well, and while he’s certainly bigger, personally, I see shades of a young Gary Sheffield at the plate. He’s out of position in CF, but when he eventually shifts to a corner spot, he has the tools to become a borderline plus defender.

Last week, reports surfaced that the A’s were in deep discussions with the Marlins, on the brink of acquiring combustible mega-star Hanley Ramirez. My sources insist the A’s hesitated, worried about an infection in Ramirez’ hand, and while pulling back to further mull things over, unintentionally created a window of opportunity for the desperate Dodgers to jump thru, which they quickly did. The Marlins were initially willing to eat a significant amount of Ramirez’s contract before L.A. acted and swallowed it all.

Think he would have helped for the stretch run?

Bay Area fans might not believe me, but I want to see this amazing story continue to unfold. It’s good for baseball, and quite frankly, it’s good for our station.

I’m 39 years old, and I’ve been in this business for a while. I’m battle-tested. I’m a native New Yorker, which means I really don’t care what others truly think about me. We are pretty resilient, by nature.

But do you really think I would feign interest in Joe Rudi and Vida Blue and Sal Bando and Rollie and Dick Williams, if I didn’t truly appreciate the legacy they left behind in the early-mid 70’s? Truth of the matter, I’m quite sure I know more about the A’s history than a fair amount of the fans wearing tilted hats and throwback jerseys. But I won’t brag.

I will, however, submit with great pride, that I am baseball fan, in the deepest sense of the word. And as a fan, I truly believe the A’s dropped the ball yesterday.

The players in that clubhouse deserved some type of reinforcement, an infusion of talent born from yesterday’s deadline. They earned it.

And to the 12,000 or so die-hards that trek nightly to the most outdated facility in baseball, so did you.

You see, you still think I’m sitting here, laughing at you, still choosing to hear how I say things, rather than actually listening to what I say.

What I’m actually doing is raising the bar because you deserve better.

Eventually, you’ll figure me out.

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6 Comments

  1. justin d.

     /  08/01/2012

    so i guess we should all give up now. forget it…the season is over, time to fold up tent…

  2. Never said that. But you might want to buckle in tight, the ride could get pretty bumpy.

  3. Hatinon Billy

     /  08/01/2012

    Awesome blog,,,i have nothing to add because you pretty much expressed the same sentiments i expressed yesterday right when the clock hit 1pm…..job well done!

  4. BT….i dont always agree with you and hate what I hear (not what you say)….but thats just me being a defensive A’s fan! Im not mad at ownership…while it hurts in the short term I think what they are trying to accomplish will be best for the franchise. Lew and his group are trying to force MLB and Bud’s hand to make a decision and I’m on his side. Even if you put a winner in that football stadium it just doesnt feel right! The A’s deserve answers from MLB and Lew & Co. thought this was the best way! Even with and exciting club no one wants to go to the O. Co!

  5. Great blog BT. I love your attitude and honesty. Finally added some good radio to the sports scene around here. Anyway, I hate that A’s fans are so supportive and so vocal on the internet about The Game talking more Giants than A’s, yet A’s fans will only pack the house on giveaway days and $2 Wednesdays. As an A’s fan since I was a kid, it hurts to see so few people there. I hate how everyone blames Lew for the problems. He’s got a point, no ones still showin up. And he didn’t decide to not get anyone at the trade deadline, Billy did. Money might have been a factor, but Billy could have done something. Anyway, love your style, your show and The Game. Word is Bond.

  6. Eric F.

     /  08/01/2012

    BT, first off congrats on the year at 95.7, I made the switch before you guys officially launched the station on August 1st. I will agree with everything you said about the radio stations and how having relevant baseball teams on air is what really draws the ratings. I’ve looked at the ratings and it was almost shocking how much the ratings jumped at old and busted once the baseball season got going. If they didn’t have the Giants I don’t believe it would even be a competition. That being said, I have to disagree with a lot of what you’ve said on this post. It is easy to say that they should have made a move to pick up Hanley especially if the Marlins were going to take on half of what was left on his contract but that is something that we will never know. The offer they received from the Dodgers was far better than anything the A’s could have offered just on money alone. There is no way the A’s would have taken on that whole contract nor do I believe they should have. If there was ever a time to trust Billy Beane and what he is doing, that time is now. Every move he made in the off season was criticized, I even remember some people wondering if they were just tanking in order to make their way to San Jose easier. Every move that he made this off season has worked out great so far (I know it’s early). Some might argue that they would love to have Gio back right now but it is hard to argue with what Milone has done so far this year and Gio’s big pay day is a lot closer than Tommy Milone’s. What I’m saying is let’s remember that this is a guy who traded three all star pitchers for guys we had never heard of, other than Josh Reddick. If there was a move to be made I believe he would have pulled the trigger, but since he didn’t, I don’t believe there was a deal out there that made sense. Some might say that it is unfair to the players, that you have to go for it right now that you have the chance. Can we also say that it is unfair to think they the A’s will start to fade because they did not make a move? I actually believe that management is showing belief in the young guys by not making move, I think they have earned that much. The one move I would have liked them to make was a veteran arm for the back of the bullpen, which can still happen. Keep up the good work BT!

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