UNCAGE THE RAGE: The Balfour Rage in Oakland is not unlike a certain character with bottle nose glasses who ran out as the crowd sang “Wild Thing”. Photo courtesy Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Dear Oakland,

I’m sorry. I was a jerk. From the get-go, I doubted you and second-guessed the moves of your pioneering General Manager. Not only that, but I refused to give you the benefit of the doubt at every turn. And, when I say, at every turn, I MEAN at EVERY turn.

I can be opinionated, but I’m not above eating mouthfuls of crow when it is due. And, as you’ve now done the impossible and won the A.L. West yesterday afternoon, today is your day. So let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look back at the awful, awful things I’ve said about you in 2012.

Here’s what I had to say in my MLB Season Preview on March 29th:

If you are an Athletics fan, one of the four or five, here’s what I suggest you do: go out and get a copy of Moneyball and watch it 162 times. This way, a team in Oakland uniforms might win something in 2012.

What Can Happen: The Athletics manage to get to 65-70 wins.
What Will Happen: Oakland will look so bad at times San Jose will think they are being pitched a Triple-A squad.
What Can’t Happen: Plenty.

Photo courtesy Tony Medina/Getty Images

Wow. Did I already mention I was a jerk? Of course, hindsight is 20-20. But looking back, this is absurd. For the love of god, please, Athletics fans, tell me you didn’t heed my advice and you watched something more than that movie this season?

I’m hoping this gets at least a little better. What did I say in my first edition of the Power Rankings?

27. Oakland Athletics | 4-6 (3-4 Home, 1-2 Road)
Already have a losing record having only played Kansas City and Seattle. You see where I’m going here?

Okay, this wasn’t so bad. In the grand scheme of things, I think I had a point here. I know, I know: I said today was about you. Still, though, the first two weeks of the season was NOT one of your best moments.

Let’s join up with you two weeks later in my Power Rankings on April 30th.

24. Oakland Athletics | 11-12 (6-7 Home, 5-5 Road) [+ 4]
Sweeping the Angels was nice, but still a less-than-talented team. They won’t stay 2nd in the A.L. West.

Ha! I was right! You WOULDN’T stay second in the AL West. See, I never really doubted you. Oh, that “less-than-talented” stuff? Yeah, let’s just not talk about that.

What’s next? The Power Rankings on May 14th.

16. Oakland Athletics | 18-17 (9-10 Home, 9-7 Road) [+ 8]
Somehow still above .500. Can’t help but to wonder where they’d be had they not traded away so much.

Hey, now. Are you honestly telling me you never played the what-if game and some point this season? Of my douche moments in trashing you this season, I have to say this is one of the more objective and elegantly-stated.

Next. Power Rankings. May 28th. Go!

Photo courtesy Otto Greule, Jr./Getty Images

22. Oakland Athletics | 22-26 (10-15 Home, 12-11 Road) [- 6]
Don’t worry about the home record. The coliseum won’t be home for too much longer.

Zing! Rimshot! Okay, that wasn’t that funny. By the way, what DID happen to all that San Jose talk? Hm? Maybe it’s time to eat some crow yourself! Okay, okay. Again, I’m sorry. I can’t seem to not make this about you.

Let’s move on. Can I have the Power Rankings from June 25th, please?

22. Oakland Athletics | 22-26 (10-15 Home, 12-11 Road) [- 6]
Don’t worry about the home record. The coliseum won’t be home for too much longer.

Boy, I REALLY tried to use my misguided humor to try and turn you into the joke of baseball, huh? Good thing you didn’t fall for it! You’re so smart. How did I ever live without you?

I’m sure, things must start to be looking up. What did I say in the Power Rankings at the All-Star Break?

21. Oakland Athletics | 43-43 (24-20 Home, 19-23 Road) [± 0]
How this team is at .500 absolutely baffles me, but it’s not like Billy Beane hasn’t surprised us before.

This is true. At the time, it DID baffle me. And Billy Beane HAS surprised us. But this wasn’t just about Billy Beane, it was about the entire team and its community.

You can see by the All-Star Break I was starting to catch on to the notion that you, the Athletics, were going to be much, much better than I had originally anticipated. So, there’s no need to rehash my long-overdue compliments of you guys in the second half of the season because, by then, I’m sure you had moved on without me and the rest of the naysayers.

But now look at you. EVERY aspect of you. It’s stupendous. I can’t get enough of it. From the fans, to the players, to that forward-thinking GM of yours. You guys are the best story in baseball this year, hands down.

Photo courtesy Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I mean, really. Ask those around you to raise their hands if they predicted the you guys would win 94 games and the division. The A.L. WEST. Four teams, and one of them has been to the last two World Series and another landed some of the most sought-after free agents of the winter. Go ahead, ask them. NO ONE — except you, of course — thought you could do it.

And you did. We had our doubts even as recently as 24 hours ago, but you did it. You fought tooth and nail and got within two games of the mighty Rangers before the final series. Then, you SWEPT those Rangers when it was do or die and made THEM look like the team expected to lose 100+ games.

Now, you’re a division winner. You’re going places, kid. Won’t you take me with you?

I mean, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This, like any other postseason, is going to be a tough one. First, you have to take out the Tigers. Sure, they won six less games than you, but have you SEEN them in the second half? They have the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 in their lineup, for Pete’s sake!

Say you beat them, then who? New York? Baltimore? A rematch with Texas? No matter how bad they looked the past few days, that is a team with a LOT of players that have won the last two ALCS’s. I don’t care if you’re the ’27 Yankees, that’s a tough obstacle. Then, if you beat THEM, you get to face the National League, which has home field advantage and the two teams with the best records in baseball.

But I’ll be rooting for you, I will. After some of the things I’ve said about you, you may not want or need my fandom, but you’ll get it nonetheless.

Yes, it’s true: my real baseball loyalties lie elsewhere this October, but the earliest you and them can cross paths is in the World Series. There is a lot of baseball between now and then, so let’s just cross that bridge when we get to it.

I guess what I’m trying to say, Oakland, is that I love you. I love everything about you.

Photo courtesy Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I love your fans. They’re not arrogant or elitist like those who root for baseball’s aristocrats (I’m looking at you, New York). They’re obnoxious in their own, lovable way. They’re loud and uniform and they look like hippies that completely missed the past decade. Almost cult-like, really, and I’m not just talking about Balfour’s section out in right field.

Just look at any one of a million pan shots of the crowd at the Coliseum. Your fan base has it all. Whites and Blacks and Asians and Latinos. They’re a melting pot that has rallied around you, the unlikeliest of winners.

I love this front office. Do you understand how outgunned they are in this, the only professional sports league without a salary cap? It’s ridiculous. You mind as well tell them they can only have eight players on the field.

And still, this team of executives finds a way to stay competitive. They didn’t reinvent the game once, make a nice story, and then move on to bigger and better things. Time and time again, they find those angles to a game that has been played for two centuries and they exploit them. They exploit them and they leave the big, rich teams scratching their heads and saying, “Shoot, why didn’t I think of that?”

But most of all, I love your players. Watching them tee off against the Rangers was the perfect juxtaposition. There stood Texas, a team whose lineup contains household names almost from top to bottom, getting outhustled and outplayed by a cast of characters even knowledgeable baseball fans have to Google.

Quite literally, you guys are writing the perfect sequel to Moneyball. You think you reinvented the game back in 2002? Ha! Just wait until you see how history remembers THIS team. At least back in 2002, you guys made the playoffs the season before. What’d you do last year? 74 wins and a third-place finish in the division. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking this is going to be one of those times when the sequel is way better than the original.

So, take me back, Oakland. The other pessimists and I who follow baseball don’t deserve you, but take me back, anyway. After all, you guys are charging into October with a full head of steam and, the last time I checked, bandwagons don’t play favorites.

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NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure you give him a follow @bclienesch for MLB Postseason updates and other shenanigans!