Nothing is a bigger lie in a box score than the attendance figure, and nothing is a bigger lie for a team’s future fortunes than to look at the schedule and say, “Aha! The standings tell us these are tough (or easy) games.”
So for the A’s, this is a good week to be lied to.
They just had their cuffs frayed by the odd but difficult-to-navigate Kansas City Royals, being dry-cleaning-bagged Sunday 4-2 in a game in which the “2” looked like a bit of a fib. Put another way, Josh Reddick hit two homers, and the rest of the A’s were largely overwhelmed by James Shields. In the meantime, the Los Angeles Angels dope-slapped Tampa Bay, 7-5, to reduce Oakland’s lead in the universe to one game.
But now comes the allegedly fun part. The A’s host Tampa Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with Tuesday being the Jason Hammel-Get Well game. The Rays just mailed in their concession by shipping David Price off to Detroit and are flying across the country, and their 54-57 record is only barely mitigated by their minus-1 run differential.
In other words, by the oft-broken Law of the Schedule, the A’s should get healthy again while the Angels have their four-game Freeway Series with the Dodgers (who oddly enough lost two of three games to the hilarious Cubs after sweeping the superior Braves, this reminding us that schedules are dishonest old trollops).
The second part of the lie comes when the crowds enter the Coliseum this week – presumably with far greater ease than the poor saps who broke the seal on Levi’s Stadium. The A’s have won 16 of their last 21 home games, just slapped the baseball world in the mush with the Jon Lester trade, and haven’t drawn one of those cruddy 12,000-looks-like-6,500 crowds in more than a month.
This, then, would be an interesting time to see if the Oakland A's have finally caught the imaginations of the greater East Bay. One would suspect not, just because Tampa Bay has been a pretty fan-repellent team in these parts over the years, but if the cool kids’ party is happening in Oakland, it should start to manifest that truth now.
There are, after all, fewer impediments to staying away than ever. Team winning, check. Team winning almost all the time at home, check (only the Angels are better at home). Big trades, check (Jon Lester is still brushing the Styrofoam packing peanuts off his arm). Owners have stopped sniveling about San Jose, check, with an asterisk (it still isn’t that hard to get them whining about the Oakland political clown car). Giants on the road and looking pretty damned inert, check and double check.
All the planetoids are aligning well for one of those occasional A’s renaissances that remind folks that the park is only an audience repellent if you want to make it one. The A’s are the thing in baseball now, and barring Billy Beane in a swimsuit lying across the hood of a new car in the infield, they are showing their best work now in a relative entertainment vacuum.
So we will see if they have finally caught on, and if they’ve relocated the ability to make visiting teams cry. The Rays ought to be both parts of that equation, and if not them, the Twins, who come in Thursday for a weekend four-banger, should.
But just in case, if I were them, I’d throw in some fireworks and a Tommy Milone “Trade Me Or Trade Me” hoodie. Because sometimes lies are more powerful than the larger truths, and as marketing executive will tell you, selling the lie is the same as selling the truth as long as the money hits the table.