The Amazing A's: How Baseball's Cinderella Shocked and Awed All Season Long
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No one believed.
Not in the off-season, when the Angels went and signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, or when the Rangers got Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan. Meanwhile, the A's quietly signed a Cuban expatriate whose name no one could pronounce.
Not in March, when the pundits picked them to lose 100 games, despite A's beat writer Susan Slusser and former Rays Jonny Gomes and Grant Balfour saying the A's might have a chance at creating the same magic the Rays did in 2008, when they got to the World Series.
Not in May, when the A's had to place that talented Cuban, Yoenis Cespedes, on the 15-day disabled list, or in June, when they lost their ninth straight game, and were dead last in batting average in the Major Leagues.
But then Cespedes came off the DL. Coco Crisp, after battling an ear infection early in the season, started to swing the bat. The team, after bringing up Chris Carter and Brandon Moss and getting Brandon Inge, began to win ball games.
They had the best record in the Majors in July. Best record post-All Star Break. A four-game sweep of the Yankees for the first time ever in Oakland. And yet the doubts persisted. They were too young. They had too many rookies. They were untested. Sooner or later, they would falter.
No one believed.
Then they lost Bartolo Colon to a drug suspension. They lost Brandon Inge to a shoulder injury. They lost Brandon McCarthy when he was struck by a line drive. They lost Brett Anderson, just back from Tommy John surgery, to a strained oblique.
People waited for the other cleat to drop. Now they would fold, everyone thought.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the sometimes empty, always raucous Coliseum.
They continued to hit, with Josh Reddick and Seth Smith and Gomes and Moss and Cespedes leading them to a Major League-best 112 home runs after the All Star Break.
They went out and got a shortstop, Stephen Drew, and their former shortstop, Cliff Pennington, started playing an inspired second base and swinging the bat better than ever.
They platooned. They picked each other up. They bought into whatever Bob Melvin told them to do and put the team first.
They got on the backs of rookie pitchers named Parker and Griffin and Blackley and Milone and Straily and Scribner and Dolittle and Cook. And on the strength of 195 home runs, 14 walk-off wins, a dance called the Bernie, and pie-in-the-face pandemonium, did something no one has ever done in the history of the major leagues.
They didn't just come back from 13 games to win a division title (only four other teams had done that in the history of Major League Baseball).
They came from 5 games back with 9 games to go to win their division.
And no one, according CSN Bay Area, has EVER done that.
They have the lowest payroll in the game, at $49 million and change, and now they are AL West Champs.
And on Wednesday night, after the final out, after Coco had clutched the ball in center field and Grant Balfour had jumped into Derek Norris' arms, after Bob Melvin ran toward a jubilant Billy Beane by the A's dugout, the camera panned to two Rangers fans, looking just as stunned as the $120 Million team they'd been rooting for. You could see exactly what they were thinking:
They couldn't believe it.
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