The Oakland Athletics are the biggest chokers in sports. I don’t care if the Oakland A’s have the lowest payroll in baseball. I don’t care if the A’s play in the worst stadium in the sport. I don’t care if the Athletics were just happy to be in the playoffs. When you reach the pinnacle of the sport and get to play in October, don’t throw up all over yourself. That’s exactly what the A’s did.
Billy Beane is lauded for his Moneyball tactics and how he has revolutionized the sport. His introduction of analytics was important don’t get me wrong. However, after the team’s 7-2 loss to the Yankees in the 2018 Wildcard game, Beane is now 0-7 in series-clinching games. It’s not hard to figure out why after watching what might have been the most laughable debacle in the history of baseball.
Oakland came into the Wildcard game with a bullpenning tactic. Fine, I get that. You have a dominant bullpen that you want to use to ‘Shorten’ the game whatever that means. However, when the A’s announced that Liam Hendriks was going to start the game it was like shooting themselves in the foot. I mean what could go wrong starting a reliever who was released earlier this year. Does manager Bob Melvin know what released mean?
Hendriks was designated for assignment back on June 25th. The most hilarious part is that Hendriks was nothing special when he pitched for Oakland this year. Hendriks notched a 4.12 ERA for the A’s this year. That alone is a pathetic number if that’s your go-to guy to start an all or nothing playoff game. Not only was his ERA not impressive, he only pitched 24 big league innings! But hey, what could go wrong. That guy’s resume is built for October.
To literally no one’s surprise, Hendriks walked Andrew McCutchen to start the game. One batter later, Aaron Judge hits a homer and just like that the game was over. What do you think Bob Melvin was thinking when he not only picked Hendriks to start the game but left 4 out of his 5 starters off the 25 man roster? How low can Bob Melvin’s IQ be? It can’t be any higher than 30.
If Melvin had a brain, he would have started Edwin Jackson. In 17 starts this year, Jackson was 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA. Jackson also has swag and has been around the block. Jackson’s stuff has never been the question, we just don’t know where it’s going all the time. The biggest thing is that Jackson has swag. I met him while working for the AAA Phillies and he has the temperament for this kind of moment. All the A’s needed was someone that wasn’t going to shit themselves when they took the mound and that’s exactly what Hendriks did out of the gates.
The game was pretty much over after one inning and the momentum was flushed right out of the A’s system as you could see on their faces they went right back to loser mode. However, Melvin’s decisions with his bullpen put the nail in the coffin. Oakland managed to keep it a 2-0 game heading into the bottom of the 6th inning. Then Melvin decides to go with Fernando Rodney. Nobody knows why Rodney is still in the majors. Nobody sucks more than Rodney, especially in a non-save situation. Rodney, 41 and washed up, comes into the game and stinks up the joint. 5 pitches, 2 hits and later.
After Rodney vomits all over Yankee Stadium, Melvin turns to his closer in the bottom of the 6th inning trailing 4-0 and a runner on 1st and 3rd base. How many times do you think Blake Treinen pitched in the 6th inning on the entire season? How many times as a closer did he come into the game with no outs and two men on base? There’s no other explanation other than the fact that Bob Melvin panicked because no one can possibly be that dumb. Luke Voit hits the triple to seal the win and Oakland continues to look nothing more than the Yankees farm system.
Where do the A’s go from here? Can Billy Beane finally admit that it’s time to just tank instead of just doing patchwork! Start over and do a real rebuild. Not one of those fake sell-offs where a reliever and a veteran middle infielder gets sold off. There’s no other word to describe the A’s other than pathetic.