September 02, 2006

The "Big Hurt" Blasts the A's to Another Win

In baseball, it's often said that leading the division or the league in April, May or June is meaningless. Historically speaking, seeing your team in first place doesn't amount to a hill of beans until Labor Day, and even then, until your team has mathematically clinched the division and eliminated all challengers, there will always be doubts if you can pull it off. Baseball players, managers, coaches and fans are among the most superstitious and snake-bitten people out there, period.

Today being September 2nd, the Oakland A's now enjoy a comfortable lead in the American League West division, spotting an 8 and a half game margin over the Los Angeles Angels. The A's just wrapped up the best August in the majors, with a 21-6 record, and have been nearly unstoppable since the All-Star break. A significant amount of that credit has to go to the team's designated hitter, Frank Thomas, who led the team to victory again last night in dramatic fashion. Thomas, who was picked up for a song (or a hill of beans) in the off-season, blasted his 29th home run, a two-run shot, which gave the A's the eventual margin of victory, as they charged back from being down 4-3, to win 5-4, on a night when every other AL West foe had already been defeated.

As usual, my wife and I were in our assigned seats for the game, and though down early, we didn't fret. We've seen the A's charge back from early deficits all season, and with a power like Frank Thomas who can put a charge into one at any at bat, we knew we had a fighting chance. After an error allowed Milton Bradley to reach ahead of Thomas, I turned to my wife, and said, "Are you ready to erupt when Thomas hits a bomb here?" She said, "Of course," and not but a few pitches later, the Big Hurt sent a moon shot sailing into the left-field bleachers as the aforementioned Bradley and he trotted home, turning a potential loss into a probable victory.

After a slow start to the season, Frank Thomas has approached his decade-ago MVP days, and has put the team on his 6-foot 7-inch frame as the A's push hard toward making the off-season again after a two-year absence. While the cautious side of me wants to say it's too early to start preparing for post-season matchups, the team has been in the most comfortable position they've seen in a long time, and we have Thomas to thank for much of it, as he has shown a resurgence in getting on base, in picking up speed, and maintaining home run power. Every at bat of his is a real show, as he marches up the rungs of baseball history, passing hall of fame greats with every big swing. It is a pleasure to call ourselves A's fans and we wish to continue seeing Frank's frame in the batter box this year and beyond.

Listening to ''Melodica (Original Mix)'', by Paul Oakenfold (Play Count: 5)