As teams fall by the wayside and can no longer bank on the longest of mathematical odds to win their division, the Stew will be there to document their expiration with The Nail in the Coffin. Fifth in the ground are the Oakland Athletics, who started this season against the Red Sox in Japan, hung with the Halos for a spell and then disappeared without a trace.
So it is with no real deep sorrow that we remember the '08 Athletics with the official death notice below. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Frank Thomas Retirement Party Fund. As always, luncheon at Steve's Lounge to follow the service.
The 2008 Oakland Athletics
Time of death: Sept. 7 after LA's 3-2 win over Chicago
Causes: Only 3.5 games behind Angels on June 30, went into 11-30 funk — including a 10-game losing streak — to fall 20 games behind, traded away injury-prone Rich Harden while still in AL West contention, saw pitcher acquired in trade (Sean Gallagher) land on DL before Harden, traded away Opening Day starter Joe Blanton a few days after Harden, currently rank dead last in the AL in Billy Beane's prized category, OBP (.315) and first in strikeouts (1,079).
PECOTA projection: 78 wins Current pace: 74
Moments in the Sun: Brad Ziegler pitches a record 39 scoreless innings to begin major league career, Mike Sweeney accepts nice portrait of himself from Japanese
stalker fan, Huston Street appears on Answer Man
Moment of Despair: Huston Street demoted from closer role shortly after appearing on Answer Man, Justin Duchscherer shut down for season after red-hot start that gave most of us who are spelling-challenged absolute fits.
Others remember: "Last week, I attended the A's/Twins game, bringing our 10-week old twins for the first time. We saw a great game, with Suzuki banging a solid hit off the wall in the 9th to win the game in a walk-off. But not many people saw it. The announced attendance was over 12,000, but I'd bet it fell way short. There were no lines at the bathrooms or at the concession stands. There were banks of empty seats.
"That's because being fans of a team that's not doing well is a hard chore. It's not fun seeing what we see to be the same failures day in and day out. It's hard to get excited about a possible comeback if we're down by double digits in the fifth inning, or if it seems like we could exchange lineups with the team's AAA club and possibly do better. And for some, this strain means they flat-out stop going, stop caring, and stop watching.
"I believe on (Athletics Nation), we have a different breed of fan. We know how to look at the stories behind the headlines. We understand long-term goals and short-term sacrifice. We understand the players as much as we do the statistics. It feels like it's been a long time since a game really meant something, but it's also been a long time since the A's were so far behind come September. I know the players are going to keep running hard to first until the last out is made, and the Coliseum gets torn up by the Silver and Black. We can take a few dozen losses for the betterment of the team. Just look at these Royals, who we'll be tangling with in a double-header this afternoon. Where is their tomorrow? At least, we know, we have a plan." — louismg, Athletics Nation, 09.04.08
Death watch (w/elimination #s): Baltimore (E), Atlanta (1) Kansas City (2) San Diego (2) Texas (3)