“That home run right there, it couldn’t have come at a better time. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”
That was center fielder Austin Jackson commenting on Jhonny Peralta’s huge three-run blast in Tuesday’s Game 4. The game-tying homer was his first in the six games since he returned from a 50-game PED suspension, and it played a big role in the Tigers’ 8-6 win.
Tigers fans were obviously in agreement with Peralta. Not only did they cheer wildly for the homer, which was to be expected, but they gave Peralta another huge hand as he took his position in left field the following inning.
They weren’t just cheering for the event, they were cheering for the cheater, too.
Which we’ve learned is pretty typical of fans. They talk big about steroid users until encountered with one playing for their team. Obviously, it’s true of some players as well.
It couldn’t have happened to a better guy? Really?
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?