Nov 3, 2014- Yesterday, in their final game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the Oakland Athletics (soon to be known as the San Jose Athletics) went out with a bang, winning the World Series against their cross-Bay rivals, the San Francisco Giants in a convincing four game sweep. Outfielder Michael Choice was selected as the World Series MVP. Choice went 7-16 in the series with 2 Home Runs, including the go-ahead blast in the 11th inning of Game 1, and 3 Stolen bases.
After finishing the 2013 season on top of the AL West, the A's failed to advance past the ALDS. Needless to say, expectations were high heading into 2014. Not only did the Swingin' A's meet their expectations, they exceeded them tremendously. Led by MVP candidate Grant Green and veteran 3rd baseman Andy LaRoche, the A's powered their way through the regular season and claimed a 4th consecutive division title with great ease. In July, the A's had six players selected to the All-Star Game, the most of any team. The six players included Green and LaRoche, as well as outfielder Michael Choice, starting pitchers Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez, and Closer Andrew Bailey.
Prior to the season, the A's exercised their option to bring back Catcher Kurt Suzuki for the 2014 season but it is unknown whether we will see him in the Green and Gold next year. Suzuki will be a free agent and will likely have a high price tag that the A's may not be able to afford. If Suzuki does not return, it is likely we will see youngster Max Stassi behind the plate full time next year. After struggling in his late season call-up in 2013, Stassi earned a spot on the A's roster as the backup catcher in 2014, where he put up solid numbers during the little playing time he got.
Who will have a bigger impact on the A's in the near-future?
The A's outfield was one of the best in baseball this season. Michael Choice was an All-Star in Left Field, while veterans Coco Crisp and David DeJesus surpassed expectations in center and right. Daric Barton put up another good season at first base, while Chris Carter provided power as the Designated hitter. Adrian Cardenas filled in for the injured Jemile Weeks in the 2nd half of the season as he rounded out the infield at 2nd base with a mediocre season offensively.
Once again, the biggest contributors to the A's success were the pitchers. Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez put up Cy Young caliber seasons and it is likely that one of them will win the award later this month. Flamethrower Tyson Ross won 17 games in the 3rd slot and Trevor Cahill had another good season as the 4th starter. The 5th starter was rookie Michel Ynoa, who came over from the Dominican Republic in 2010 and finally made it to the bigs this year. He went 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA. The bullpen was led by closer Andrew Bailey and young lefty Ian Krol. Bailey recorded an AL-high 40 saves, while Krol served as his set-up man.
After a phenomenal regular season, where they finished 92-70, the A's really broke out in the post season. After falling behind two games to zero to the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS, the A's turned it around and won 11 straight games. They breezed through the ALCS, sweeping the Royals in four games and moved right on through to San Francisco for the World Series.
Game 1 of the World Series will go down as one of the best post-season games in MLB history. Brett Anderson and reigning Cy Young Award Winner Matt Cain squared off in one of the best pitching battles ever seen . Anderson pitched 8 innings of 2-hit shutout baseball, while Cain threw 9 shutout innings, striking out 14 Athletics. In the top of the 11th, A's outfielder Michael Choice hit a solo home run to center field and broke the scoreless tie. Andrew Bailey closed out the game, securing the Game 1 victory. The A's took Game 2 from the Giants relatively easily in a convincing 8-0 rout. Tyson Ross was spectacular in the A's 4-3 Game 3 win. In Game 4, the Giants took an early lead with Brandon Belt's 1st inning 3-run homer, but the A's rallied back with home runs from Daric Barton and Coco Crisp and won the game 5-3, and the series 4-0.
Even though the A's won the World Series and the celebration continued all night, the moment was bittersweet as they knew it would be the last time they ever played in the Oakland Coliseum. Even though the Coliseum is old and rustic, it has been the A's home for over 40 years, and we will all miss it dearly (especially the pitchers). The future looks bright for the San Jose Athletics, as a good number of their key players will be returning next year. As for those who will not return, a good replacement is ready and waiting to step in and make an impact. Only time will tell if the A's will repeat as Champions in 2015.