FROM A FAN’S STANDPOINT – Speaking from my heart
Sometimes sports simply are not fair to those it serves.
The game of baseball and those that play it have been known to break the hearts of their fans through their performance, such as making boneheaded decisions on the field that change the outcome of an extremely important game (a la Jeremy Giambi not sliding in the 2001 ALDS), but nothing hurts a fan base more than the front office relieving them of a pivotal piece on their beloved roster.
In other words, the Oakland Athletics trading Yoenis Cespedes.
Earlier this morning, the A’s pulled off their second blockbuster trade this month, this time for Boston Red Sox All-Star LHP Jon Lester, shipping the Cuban Outfielder to the east coast.
While the A’s have hung their hat on pitching from the moment Billy Beane became General Manager in 1997, sending a plus-power bat and a pivotal part of the Oakland lineup away for yet another pitcher (no matter how good) can be a tough pill to swallow.
If there had been any household name over the last couple years for A’s fans, it had been “La Poténcia”, demonstrating a flair for the dramatic since he arrived a mere two and a half years ago. Although players like Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss also stand in the middle of the number one scoring offense in baseball, Cespedes had been the biggest spark to the green and gold’s lineup since debuting in 2012. This is especially evident in the fact that when he is in the lineup, Oakland’s record has been 228-131, while having a subpar 28-44 record without him.
Speaking from my heart, I was quite saddened when my Bleacher Report Team Stream app woke me up at 6:57 AM with a notification that my favorite player had been traded away and to be blunt, I was not alone. As I took to twitter I saw many of my friends feeling the same way whom, along with probably most of the MLB, did not expect to see the back-to-back Home Run Derby champion leave.
The trend of trading for upgrades mid-way through a season in order to propel a probable playoff team into World Series title discussion is relatively new, but has proven ineffective in some situations. There was a couple year span right before the turn of the 2010 decade where former Cy-Young winner Cliff Lee was traded around between playoffs contenders in the Phillies and Rangers to help them get to the World Series. Unfortunately for him, those teams he was on didn’t get a ring.
In the history of the A’s, they too have made a trade like this, stemming all the way back to 1959 when they desired a shutdown pitcher and so they traded for New York Yankees World Series perfect-game thrower, Don Larsen. What did they give up? Just a young, athletic, first-time All-Star outfielder (sound familiar?) by the name of Roger Maris. In his next two seasons for the Yankees he won back-to-back MVP awards while also eclipsing Babe Ruth’s single season home run record when he hit 61 dingers in (ironically) 1961. Meanwhile, Don Larsen went 1-10 in his the next season for the Kansas City Athletics. End of story.
Now I’m definitely not saying this is the case to be, because the variables involved in this 2014 trade are completely different and the circumstances of today’s game are much different than they were 50 years ago. All I’m saying is that the A’s have given up a player similar to Cespedes’ caliber before for “can’t miss” pitching and history has a funny time repeating itself.
The point is, the trade today was a heartbreaker for many a fan (my own mother included) and if the Billy Beane’s newly created staff cannot lead the A’s to a World Series championship, all critics will pick out this single day as quite possibly the biggest mistake in Oakland Athletics history.
Fingers crossed boys.