Even with Brandon Moss as todays Wearer OThe Dessert, there is bad news in Oakland. Even with his three-run home run that sped the Elephants to a 7-4 win in 10 innings over the Seattle Mariners and cut their duty by one more game, things are worrisome in Oaktown.
And why? Because the reports on pitcher Brett Anderson remain good. His way-off-to-the-side throwing session (long-toss) went well, and he is loosely scheduled to throw a bullpen session as early as Monday.
Now this good news-becomes-bad news thing seems counterintuitive, but the As as a concept work best as a complete headscratcher, a bafflement to the game, the nation and even to themselves.
And frankly, for the what-the-hell narrative to play out again, they need that all-rookie pitching rotation that Anderson would ruin.
Anderson could conceivably pitch a wild-card game Friday if the Monday session goes well and the As are in a mood to rush him. This would ruin the childrens crusade the As would otherwise send into the division series, and would take a little edge off their How The Hell Are They Doing This? campaign.
Having a pitcher of Andersons caliber (when healthy, he is very good) and vast experience (68 entire starts) available for whatever postseason opportunities await both helps the Athleticals and undermines their whole raison detre. They are, after all, the team the nation would fall in love with if it could only figure out how the hell theyre doing what theyre doing.
And the all-rookie postseason rotation, the first of its kind, would have been a perfect metaphor for a team veritably swimming in them. Even the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers, who got 69 starts from rookie pitchers en route to the World Series, used veterans Preacher Row and Carl Erskine for four of the seven starts against the Yankees.
The As, on the other hand, are prepared to face OctoberWorld with Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin, have 10 more career starts than Anderson combined. And if thats the difference, then give us the one more oddball item every time.
Now while it amazes us that we still have to do this, we must explain that we have no dog in this fight. The As are going to do what theyre going to do, and we have no rooting interest either way.
But if theyre going to go to the trouble of setting up a team that nobody can comprehend, they may as well go big. When youre the wackiest ship in the army, you have to come correct.
And given what the As have done and how they have done it, this is about as correct as they can come. And now Bob Melvin might ruin it by taking advantage of someones return to health?
Saturdays game meets the narratives demands nicely. Fall behind early, have Straily give up two massive homers to Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders in the same inning, get a runner (Stephen Drew) thrown out at the plate to end the eighth, and then go two-run homer from Josh Donaldson in the ninth and then three-run cakeface from Moss in the 10th. Moss reward, one pie and two Gatorade buckets, are all part of the plot line.
But good news like Andersons potential return just gets in the way. The team that gave you, and then took away from you, Manny Ramirez, Bartolo Colon, Brandon McCarthy, Jemile Weeks, Brandon Inge and yes, Anderson, shouldnt be adding components this late in the movie . . . er, season.
The As are not finished here yet. The Moss home run kept them a leg . . . well, a shin and a patellar tendon . . . up on the principal foes, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay, and they can still reach up and touch Baltimore and New York. There is much to win, and much to lose, in the final four games of the regular season, so Anderson if ready is an obvious choice for either a play-in game, the wild card game, or even the division series opener if Texas can be caught.
But thats not what the narrative demands. The narrative demands a childrens crusade of pitchers, and injuries and pink-eye and bee-stings and ricketts and Dutch elm disease and poison sumac. This isnt the Moneyball narrative where Billy Beane has sunbeams emanating from his head. This is the Moneyball narrative where everything that can go wrong goes wrong and the team ends up winning anyway, and for no sensible reason.
So be wary of good news. It isnt what these guys do. I mean, it is what they do, but it isnt . . . I mean, this looks lots harder than the box score say . . . I mean, oh, the hell with it. Just go with this: If it looks too good to be true, it isnt As baseball.
And if you dont believe that, go ask Brandon Moss. Hes the one trying to remove cream cheese from his nostrils.