Are the Oakland A’s a Metaphor for What America Was?

A’s win the American League West Title with one of the greatest comebacks in baseball.

It was a heartbreaker for me to watch the Texas Rangers implode the last month of this season.  Like other Rangers fans I was looking forward to a three-peat of the World Series with the Texas team going all the way this time.  But as fate would have it, their old patterns resurfaced as their bats and pitching became ineffective.  They were leading the American League West pretty much all season only to lose it to a scrappy Oakland A’s team that spent half the season at or near the bottom of the division.

Oakland won the last three games of season against the Rangers and clinched the division title in the final game, doing it in style by coming back from a 5-1 deficit in the 4th inning and winning with an impressive 12-5 score.  In their playoff series with the American League Central champs, the Detroit Tigers, they came back after being down 2 games to none, they tied the series up 2-2, winning the 4th game 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, after being down 3-1.

Unfortunately this remarkable effort to become a World Series contender from a team that has the lowest payroll in MLB baseball fell short last night as the Detroit Tigers were able to take their 5th highest payroll team and end Oakland’s fantastical rise to the top with a 6-0 win.   Yet there is still much to be said about how this team of relative unknowns came as far as they did this season.

The A’s have represented baseball at its best and serve, I think, as a metaphor for life itself.  This game use to be about heart, not salaries.  About team work not prima donnas.  About natural adrenaline, not steroid-induced heroics.  About the collective effort not the self-interests of individuals.  When you watch a team like the A’s beat the odds you have to love them for that trait that makes any of us remarkable – a passion for what drives us.  To achieve what they have done with so little fiscally is to take nothing for granted and not see yourself as anything less than the best.

Adversity is but a road bump for those who see themselves going to the heights rather than as victims who are unable to move past disappointment.  The A’s didn’t make it as a group of individuals with their own ambitions and the need to fulfill only their self-interests.  Each man didn’t make the team because they were the best but because they had heart and someone was willing to give them chance to see where it would take them.  They didn’t succeed alone but were successful because the other 39 members of a 40-man roster were there to catch them when they were weak and to fill the voids that happen incrementally throughout a season, career or an entire life.

I was hoping the A’s make would make it all the way to the World Series and walk off with that trophy.  But even though they are not they have shown us all that success is more than just a personal will to win.  As important as that is, it is still just a piece of a team effort that requires the stronger ones to carry the weak when needed with an ultimate goal of pulling everyone in that direction that makes them all winners.

I hope we can all learn something from the efforts of the A’s and see that working together is vital for success.  When we put ourselves outside of the what’s best for all people we may have personal records that we can show off to others but we can’t parade that alleged exceptionalism around as a nation.  Not while fewer and fewer people are living the American dream that once existed and only those at the top of the income tier are seeing gains.

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3 responses to “Are the Oakland A’s a Metaphor for What America Was?

  1. I like this metaphor. In the 70s, the A’s were the prima donna team. Maybe this type of attitude goes in cycles and maybe we need the prima donnas sometimes to show us what we have been missing or where we’ve gone astray. In non metaphor, I don’t begrudge sports players their millions (they might need it for medical care later; one false move, an injury could destroy their career so get it while they can); and a lower payroll team doesn’t get my support more than a higher payroll team and not in real life either. A richer person is no less likable than a poorer one and just because someone doesn’t have money doesn’t make them a good person or more deserving than anyone else. I have met my fair share of poor asses too. I tend not to look at their salaries or where people are in life as much as I look at someone’s work ethic and what they do for their fellow human beings. I think that sends a much stronger message about who we are. I think we are way too caught up in the haves and have nots lately. I think we need to just concentrate on being good people who want to work hard, look out for each other with a compassionate and non-judgmental eye. Somewhere that message went very awry. Nice, nice post LB.

  2. I agree entirely with your take on this Donna and I think we both see that personal virtues and strengths have their own set merits but are in and of themselves not achieved without they aid of others who are willing to give people opportunities and be there to help them when they’re down so those individuals can achieve their goals and then play it forward.

    No man is an island and unto themselves they limit growth of both a personal and collective nature, essentially ensuring that their own lives will be cut short and the worse for such self-serving practices.

  3. But…But…how can a group of lessor paid individuals possibly be victorious against a group of higher paid individuals? Don’t you know this is a meritocracy?!? Everyone is paid exactly what they deserve to be paid. In modern American capitalism, the end result is its own justification. The fact your salary is higher is all the proof of “merit” you need.

    What you seem to be suggesting is anti-American thinking, Woodgate! Expect a visit from the Teabag-shirts any day now.

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