Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Tonight is the night. Billy Beane went all in at the trade deadline, sending away Oakland’s offensive anchor, Yoenis Cespedes, for the final piece he felt he needed to finally win the last game of the season. Tonight, in Kansas City, that final piece, Jon Lester, takes the hill against the Kansas City Royals in what could be the last game of the season if things don’t go right.
It’s no secret that Beane has built the definitive playoff pitching rotation, capable of beating practically any team in a best of five series. The playoff rotation looks something like this: Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, and Scott Kazmir. Not a bad mix by any stretch. I wouldn’t want my team to face them (but the Cubs haven’t sniffed the playoffs in nearly a decade…but that’s for another time). Next to the Detroit Tigers, this is the most feared rotation in all of baseball.
But tonight, the A’s aren’t starting a best of five series. They are playing a single play-in game for the chance to play in the American League Division Series. As the sports announcers love to say, throw out the percentages, it all comes down to one game.
Tonight, it all comes down to who can get more men on base and bring them in. This is old-fashioned baseball at its finest. It will be a game full of base hits and fundamentals. If you’re a fan of the long ball, you’ll be falling asleep during this game. But if you love the game for what it is, you won’t want to miss this one.
Let’s also not forget that it was the Kansas City Royals who nearly broke Oakland's twenty-game win streak back in 2002, which resulted in an incredible sports film. There are some distinct differences in both of these teams now, most notably of which is that fat Mike Sweeney isn’t playing for Kansas City any longer. But just like before, the Royals could play the big time spoiler.
After trading away the prototypical “old school” looking player that any organization would love to build its future around, Billy Beane will look like an idiot if the A’s lose tonight. You can bet that every old-school scout in the game is just waiting for him to fall on his face. As it was so beautifully pointed out in the movie, if you are going to try to do things differently than the given standard, you had better get it right.
Tonight, I’ll be rooting for somebody other than the Cubs. Go A’s!