The Oakland A's Light at the End of the Tunnel: Run, Rajai, Run
"Everyone I know, everywhere I go/People need some reason to believe/I don't know about anyone but me." —Jackson Browne
If the Oakland Athletics' season were compressed into a single game, this would be point that is often affectionately referred to as garbage time.
Kuip and Foss would be at least three-deep into the Dibs, with the latter undoubtedly regaling the audience with old war stories from his playing days in the '70s, anything to distract viewers from the tedium on the field.
Meanwhile, Bob Geren and his staff would do anything possible to ensure nobody got hurt, while the young reserves who haven't played much got some quality at-bats, and made sure not to humiliate the team or themselves in the process.
The only victories of consequence left in this season are the moral ones (like outscoring Texas 19-1 in the just-finished series sweep at Arlington), and any excitement to be had will come from looking at 2010 and beyond.
Well, with one glaring—just like a comet's tail—exception: the A's present and future leadoff man, Rajai Davis.
Davis is yet another Billy Beane scrap pile special whom Beane acquired, specifically, from that pile of scrap located in China Basin, west across the bridge, making Davis's play over the last few months all the sweeter for Oakland fans who have had to endure their Bay Area brethren's contention for the National League playoffs (in addition to what is usually their general intolerability, regardless of the season's performance).
San Francisco was also where Davis learned from one of the best in the game, Dave Roberts, who might have stolen the most important base, well, ever (if ESPN Boston and the rest of Red Sox Nation are to believed).
In Oakland, Davis has developed into a player reminiscent of that other base stealer from the A's bygone days. You know, The Greatest.
That's because Davis and his 37 steals—the most stolen bases by an Athletic since the 66 The Greatest added to his HOF total in 1998—is the rare positive to take away from what has otherwise been the bummer of an A's season. Don't forget that Henderson, in his first season with the A's, stole 33 bases in only 89 games for the abysmal 54-108 1979 team.
Davis, once thought of as a one-trick pony (which is why, with Dave Roberts around, the Giants felt comfortable DFA'ing him just a few weeks into the 2008 season), has also emerged as a multi-dimensional player since the All-Star break, putting up a .347/.398/.472 line, while hitting over .400 in the two incomplete months of play—July (.405) and September (.411)—during that time.
Beyond the box score, though, Davis has given A's fans something to stand and cheer for at the Coliseum. Well, something other than dot racing. Something to keep their televisions tuned to Comcast Sports instead of popping the DVD of the '72, '73, '74 and '89 World Series re-broadcasts into their players.
Not only that, but Davis has changed the philosophy of the Oakland A's organization, which had been notoriously "run-last" under Beane, and has added a facet to the team's offense that hasn't been seen since Rickey was running past Lou Brock.
Davis has lent a distinct style to a team that has otherwise run in reverse to where they were at this point last season, before Professor Beane attempted his failed experiments of Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi.
The best news of all is that Davis will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and will continue to be through 2012, and the A's have made every indication that they plan to keep him. Even with the gaudy numbers he's put up of late, whatever Davis receives in arbitration will still be a relative bargain for the A's considering his sizable talents.
Some might even call him a (*ahem*) steal. (Feel free to groan, dear reader.)
So, Davis is as good a reason as any, present or future, for A's fans to look forward to happier times, when Oakland can build on their (one game over) .500 record since the All-Star break, due, in no small part, to the green-and-gold Rajai, and start contending in the division again. To happier times when Brett Wallace and Chris Carter are driving Davis home after he's stolen second and third. Even if this is just an illusory and fleeting performance by Oakland's other Mr. Davis, we A's fans can still be happy with losing ourselves—again—in a single moment of beauty and have it be a joy forever.
"Run, Rajai, run!"
"Run, Rajai, run!"
"Run, Rajai, run!"
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