Is Cespedes Oakland's Lin?

February 15, 2012, 5:13 pm
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This did not occur to me when it should have, which is not unusual, but watching Jeremy Lin up his own ante yet again Tuesday night in Toronto caused the small Christmas-tree-sized bulb signifying a freshly-hatched half-formed idea to illuminate itself overhead late last night.Football has The Tebow. Basketball has The Lin. Baseball has to find its own now. And frankly, the team best positioned to make this otherworldly play is the downtroddenest of all, your Oakland Athletics.
The Elephants have chosen as a management strategy to beat themselves with tire chains for the past six years waiting for a new stadium to magically appear in San Jose. Between that and some odd hires and personnel decisions, the most spirited arguing about the team this year has been reduced to whether it can reach the magical 70-win mark.Enter Yoenis Cespedes, the likeliest new gift from our galactic overlords.He fits the twin profiles of Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin for extraterrestrial arrivals. He toiled in Cuba, which is much further away from the mainstream baseball firmament than it should be, for political reasons. He made his name putting up very good but difficult-to-translate numbers in the Cuban league, and a workout tape that made him seem more Borg than human. He was a much-desired commodity among teams that typically throw money around, only to fall to the team still working on the barter system.If you replace Cuba with Yale, the workout tape with the combine, Cuban baseball with the SEC and the Ivy League, and throw in the As as the once-proud but since-modest operation to compare with the Broncos and Knicks . . .Well, okay. Maybe you have to squint to do it, but there is good reason to wonder why football, which doesnt need Tebowmania to make its monthly nut, or basketball, which just went to the trouble of closing up shop to break its union, got help from another planet while baseball has to do with Earthlings alone.And the answer is, it doesnt.Now we grant you there is some pretty fevered mythmaking going on with Tebow and Lin, to the point where they are now almost pitted against each other in a Whose Phenomenon Is Better? reality show. Somewhere, an attractive female celebrity is being warmed up in the bullpen as a potential romantic interest for Lin, since the Knicks were for a time the Kardashians Stop-And-Shop, and because Tebow was linked for a time in a huge and ultimately untenable stretch with Katy Perry.But as the Internet has shown us time and again, there is plenty of frantic off-your-meds hyperbole to go around for everyone, and logic suggests that if football, which didnt need Tim Tebow, got him, and basketball, which just devalued its labor stock, got Lin, why baseball, which has had labor peace for decades now, cant have its.Of course, golf had Tiger, but that gift has been spent, and tennis runs through its best at a faster and faster pace. And hockey . . . well, it has plenty of teams in need, lots of unlikely places from which to unearth a Kryptonian spaceship crashed in the woods, and Edmonton has had the two most recent tries in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but were getting off the topic here.This is baseballs chance to get its piece of Eureka! action, and Cespedes seems the logical choice. I mean, wed say the Mets because theyre so laughably destitute, but any good player to emerge from there would be tagged and bagged as part of the Madoff lawsuit, and its hard to get lyrical about that. Kansas City and Pittsburgh could use a nice jump-start too, but theres only so much paranormal intervention a sport is entitled to one to a customer seems the current ratio.So, with full knowledge that Lins and Tebows are best formed from accident and circumstance, and that predicting the next one is the same as dooming the next one, let us propose Yoenis Cespedes anyway. He fits the profile, and we havent had a healthy round of What Athlete Xs Rise To Fame Means To Me stories in what, 17 hours?Ray Ratto is a columnist for