I went to the A's final home game today, to say my goodbyes to the 2005 Oakland Athletics.
The game itself was not memorable at all, except perhaps for an absolutely Kingmanesque home run by Nick Swisher. That thing went way, way up in the sky. If Mount Davis were located just behind first base, the ball might have cleared it. It eventually came down, with just enough distance to clear the right field fence.
Otherwise, the game had less energy to it than a spring training game. Barry Zito didn't look like he had his mind in the game, as he threw some sloppy pitches that got whacked for home runs. That mattered little, as the A's offense--without Crosby and Chavez--did almost nothing besides Swisher's moonshot. I think Hiram Bocachica could face Bartolo Colon fastballs for weeks on end, and still whiff on every single one of them. He looked completely overmatched.
The outcome (7-1 Angels) didn't matter, really. We were there for the last at-bat, to give one final cheer for this team, as thanks. Mark Ellis gave a valiant effort as the last man standing, fouling off about six Brendan Donnelly pitches before finally striking out. Standing ovation.
Ellis' at-bat personifies this year's team: a brave battle that fell short in the end. Last year's A's fell just short, as well, but they were far less likable. The 2004 A's were an aging team that fell apart. The 2005 A's were a young team that came together.
As the Angels shook hands, they posted this on Diamond Vision:
Next A's Home Game
April 3, 2006, 7:05pm
vs. New York Yankees
I hadn't really accepted the season was done until I saw that. But that struck me. April. It seems so far away. What to do, where to go, in the meantime?
This may be the most boring offseason in the history of the Oakland A's. A right-handed power bat in left field would probably top my wishlist, but Billy Beane doesn't really *need* to do much at all except let his players mature.
The players cleared the dugouts. The groundskeepers started grooming the field.
I stopped behind home plate, and looked out over that green grass one last time. Then I climbed the steps, walked out the tunnel, crossed the parking lot, got in my car, and drove away.