Gwen Knapp has a good story up at Sports on Earth about the scene in Oakland. Where, if all you’ve seen about it in the past couple of regular seasons, you may be surprised to learn can really rock when the A’s are playing well.
And the fans are passionate too. Maybe too passionate. Like, when Josh Reddick is involved:
“He threw wads of his bubble gum up into the stands tonight,” said Mike Liedtke, 51 and a longtime right-field denizen. “These two guys caught them, and without hesitation, they put them right into their mouth. That’s a real bond.”
So, yeah, that’s … special.
We can look past it, though. It’s just cool to see Atheltics fans, who have been jerked around like nobody’s business these past few years, enjoying themselves.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.