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Concession Speech: 2012 Oakland Athletics

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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With the regular season over, teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our friend Ben Koo of Awful Announcing and Bloguin. He wrote the 10 best things about being an A's fan for us earlier this spring.

My fellow A's fans: Today I stand before you not as the bearer of bad news that our season is come to an end, but rather to memorialize the conclusion of a historic journey that will be etched into our memories for years to come.

On this sad day, I concede that our dream season is over. I concede that my enthusiasm and pride for the A's found a new low a third of the way through the season and that I gave up all hope after a demoralizing nine-game losing streak. I concede that finding ourselves in last place and universally deemed a laughing stock eroded my pride and faith in the A's to a dark place that I'm ashamed to admit.

But when the smoke cleared, it turns out that I never loved a team as searingly as this one and the ride from worst to first will live on in my heart forever.

Mistakes were made: This season might be Billy Beane's best work and with all due respect to Buck Showalter, it's hard not to imagine Bob Melvin winning manager of the year so listing our mistakes is not an exercise that involves low-hanging fruit.

Here are a few that stick out though:

• Although it seems like ages ago, Brian Fuentes' 19 earned runs in just 25 innings before getting the axe, seemed like unnecessary torture on the heels of last year's awfulness from Fuentes.

• With a wealth of young pitching, Tyson Ross's 11 losses and 56 runs spanning only 73.1 innings was probably a bit too much suffering than circumstances required.

• You could also look at the opening day infield lineup and deem some of those mistakes as the A's closed out the year with a different starter at every single position.

In the end though, the A's overcame all of these mistakes and the economic headwinds against them to win the division. Ultimately bad luck like injuries to Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Inge and Brett Anderson were easier to point the finger at than any type of mismanagement.

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(US Presswire)

Mudslinging time: Ultimately the massive payrolls in Anaheim and Texas didn't deter us but an odd scheduling quirk and Justin Verlander did.

While the equation of rookies plus rejects overcame the odds in 2012, the prospects of the AL's lowest payroll contending with regularity is highly unlikely.

Until Bug Selig makes a ruling on the A's San Jose stadium ambitions, the A's are in a holding pattern and dangerously low on gas. With the current state of affairs, the A's will have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball as long as they play in the Coliseum. It's the only venue that still doubles as a football venue for a NFL team, does not have any semblance of a neighborhood, eateries, or bar around it and has thousands of seats tarped off.

The onset of new ballpark, in San Jose or anywhere, will give the A's the revenue guidance needed to field a more consistently competitive team rather than their current gritty existence of building, nurturing, and dismantling young teams in an effort to bridge some young talent to a new venue.

Some fans are in favor of the move, while others would prefer the A's to stay in the EastB ay. Regardless, I think all fans will agree that the three-plus years Selig and the brain trust have taken to make a ruling or provide ANY feedback on this matter is not only detrimental to the A's future but bluntly stated, disrespectful to the A's and their fans.

Call me crazy, but I don't think the entire Twilight series should be adapted into film by the time it takes one panel to make a decision on a relocation.

While we're at it, it would be great if we didn't have to go to Japan and lose two home games in addition to having the season opener not televised live.

Hope for the future: Fans said goodbye to the 2012 A's with a standing ovation in the wake of their season-ending loss. That sendoff was mostly directed at the resolved success that the team achieved, but a part of that enthusiasm was directed at what lays ahead in 2013.

There are certainly balls in the air in terms of the roster for next year, but for the first time in a long time the A's know that their team will have pitching and power, something that has been as lacking as quality original comedies on TBS.

A defensively-stellar outfield and an equally adept bullpen, coupled with the fact that the lowly Astros will join the division and dilute our normally tough schedule, all point to an optimistic 2013 outlook.

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Jarrod Parker (AP)

The biggest question is whether the A's will  have the same resilient taste your own blood and fight to the end personality that powered them to 15 walkoff wins (most in the majors) in 2012. When the A's finally found their footing in 2012, going to a game offered a high probability of a win and significant chance of some late-game heroics. It was these late game fireworks that built the team's confidence and bonded the team with its fans. With the recipe for 2013 similar to that of 2012, I hold hope that not only will we find similar success but the same type of exhilaration and late game gumption that is etched into our hearts and memories for years to come.

A change is going to come: Despite a bright future ahead of us, uncertainty lies ahead of us in terms of what infield can be cobbled together in support of the strong starting pitching, bullpen, and outfield.

Food for thought: By mid-August the A's had a completely different infield than their opening day roster. Heading into 2013, the A's have a lot of options for a lot of question marks spanning third base, second base, catcher and shortstop, as all these positions are largely unspoken for.

Shoring up these positions and having a team viewing of Tom Emanski's guide to hitting with two strikes could have a very positive effect on a young team that stumbled out of the gate in 2012.

Going forward if the A's can make marginal improvements in the infield and strike out with less frequency, you would think the A's could challenge for 100 wins by improving these deficiencies and avoiding an early season meltdown.

In closing: At the beginning of the year, the A's were selling us Manny Ramirez as the slugger, Jemile Weeks as the budding star we could build around and Kurt Suzuki as the captain steering the ship.

By the home stretch, all were long gone as was the complacency that relegated the A's as a second-tier team that merely served as a doormat to the likes of the baseball elite.

The A's on paper were easy to dismiss and many people, including myself, applied some logic along the way in order to proactively save ourselves some agony.

But the A's defied logic and did so not only for a single game, a series, a week, or amonth, but for the majority of the season. Expectations, injuries, and inexperience be damned, the A's simply ignored their lack of pedigree, fan support, and star power.

The magic stopped abruptly last week, but it preserved through months of speculation that the party couldn't go on much longer. We didn't have the talent and we didn't have any luck, but we certainly had the magic in 2012. That magic awoke a pride and zeal in many of us that had decayed and for some may have even been dying inside. Now it lives on for whatever the future holds.

I thank you all for support and fandom in support of this special campaign. In closing, I leave you with a quote from Moneyball that perfectly sums up the joy and inspiration that this campaign brought to the masses.

"The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don't know what to expect, you stand
at least a chance of being inspired."

Follow Ben Koo on Twitter

Previous Concession Speeches: Cincinnati RedsLos Angeles AngelsTexas Rangers, Atlanta BravesChicago White SoxTampa Bay RaysMilwaukee BrewersPhiladelphia PhilliesArizona DiamondbacksPittsburgh Pirates,Cleveland IndiansBoston Red SoxMinnesota TwinsSan Diego PadresNew York MetsMiami MarlinsChicago CubsToronto Blue JaysColorado RockiesKansas City Royals, Houston Astros

Make sure all your bases are covered this postseason ...
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