The Best and Worst Uniforms of All Time: the Oakland Athletics

7 Comments

Confession time. I played little league baseball in Parkersburg, West Virginia for a team sponsored by a business called “Doug’s Family Hairstyling.” All of the other teams were sponsored by sporting goods stores or hardware stores or at least something that sounded cool and manly. Not us! We were probably the worst team in the league and we had a pansy name. Oh, and we had all the fat kids on our team. And what did these talentless, pansy-named fat kids wear? Green and gold, that’s what. It was a nightmare on top of a nightmare on top of a nightmare. And have I mentioned that gold does not flatter my flesh tones?

The point is this: I may have hated the A’s traditional green and gold uniforms before 1985, but I know I hated them afterward, and I still hate them to this very day. I simply can’t abide the combination at all no matter who’s wearing it. My failure to develop a man crush on the Billy Beane A’s like so many of my sabermetric friends has a lot to do with the green and gold. And don’t even get me started on the white shoes, which baseball teams should never ever, ever wear, but the A’s still do for some reason.

With all of that out of the way, you can probably tell which direction this is going.

The Best: The blue elephants were kind of different, but ultimately I’ll go with the simple blue A on white, which they wore for nearly their entire existence in Philadelphia. A couple of red A’s thrown in, and yes, those elephants for a couple of years, but when Connie Mack was in charge they kept that blue A, and I like it.

The Worst: This 1973 look is pretty much exactly what Doug’s Family Hairstyling looked like. Except we didn’t have handlebar mustaches. And we had jellyroll guts and looked perpetually over-matched. Really, though. any look from the 60s through 1986 is fairly heinous. The more recent vintage Athletics teams have toned it down a whole lot, but I still see it. Like it was burned into my retinas, forever distorting my sight.

Assessment: I once thought that if I was ever a professional baseball player and I got traded to the A’s, that I’d simply retire than wear that getup. I know now that such a stance was a bit immature.  With age and wisdom, I know better now. I’d simply demand a trade.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
15 Comments

Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.