The post-season disposal is, essentially, just hours away from Oakland A.
A season that began with so many promises – winning the MLS title, his comeback with a host of proven talent and some eager young players to prove the hype – ends in utter disappointment with a frighteningly uncertain future for the franchise in store.
what happened? With the post-season going without an A for the first time in three seasons, the dust of the 2021 season is beginning to settle. And there were major turning points in which this season began heading south. Here are just a few.
Ramon Laureano suspended: August 6
The team virtually ignored news of Laureano being suspended 80 games after testing positive for nandrolone, a performance-enhancing drug. But his loss was felt as their season began to deteriorate soon after.
It was clear the team didn’t want to dwell on the loss, “You’re forced to move on,” manager Bob Melvin said at the time. “Everyone feels bad about what happened to him. In baseball you should have a short memory. There are only 50 games left. We have to go out and play with the pieces we have. We still have good things. He is a tough guy to lose.”
Laureano went through the highs and lows before being stopped. He’s been hitting .246 with 14 homers and 39 RBIs in 88 games, and with Starling Marte in possession, A Stadium looked stronger than ever—with twice the pace and impact on defense and attack. Team A won six times in a row after Laureano was suspended, but the season took a turn soon after as Player A struggled to take advantage of scoring opportunities repeatedly.
Although the spirit of the next player pervaded any professional team, it was clear at the time that the first team would run at a disadvantage without a play-off key player with them.
Chris Bassett hits his face with the command line, August 17
A trip to Chicago to face the top-ranked Chicago White Sox proved to be a chance for Players A to recover from a back-to-back loss to the struggling Texas Rangers and get some break from the teams seeking their starting spot – the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees were hot on their tail.
Losers in three of the last four, the players needed to make a statement against the White Sox. Bassett, who collected a season of Cy Young caliber, was the man for the job. But in the second half, Brian Goodwin’s 100-mph streak hit him in the face — a shocking sight that led to Bassett undergoing surgery for a facial fracture. Soon, Team A lost six consecutive games and 11 out of 21 games.
On August 23, Team A fell in a rematch from the Boston Red Sox for their second wild card, the first time they hadn’t held a share of a playoff game since April. 17. They never climbed again.
Consecutive belated losses for the Giants, August 21, 22
It became clear that A gas might be running out during a dismal six-game losing streak in late August. A streak ignited by back-to-back bullet losses for the San Francisco Giants. Usually strong first, Andrew Chavin gave up the back-to-back run to allow San Francisco to cut a three- to one-run advance. Then Lou Trivino gave up his first home game in months to discus hitter LaMonte Wade Jr. This is one traffic light in the ninth inning.
The following night, AJ Puk embraced a one-time lead, giving up his home run twice to discus hitter Donovan Solano in the eighth inning, leading to another loss. The crash refers to the collapse of the hyper-taxed bulls game, which has been exhausted by the domino effect of inability of A-starters to jump beyond the fifth inning for a long time.
Marcus Simin’s home run, September 3
If any one series caused season A to deteriorate, it sure was their visit to Toronto when September started. The A’s were swept away in three games, sending the Blue Jays into a wild card competition and burying Oakland, essentially, for good.
Marcus Semin’s three-round home exit in Game 1 of the series may have been the moment that not only represented a fatal blow to the 2021 A-season, but a stark reminder that this organization may never conquer the post-season demons if the monarchy continues to do so. Let the high-level talent go. When the A’s couldn’t offer him a serious contract or even a qualifying offer this off season, Semien signed with the Blue Jays for $18 million.
Simin’s home run was poetic justice at its best. Team A didn’t put in much of a struggle to bring the local kid and MVP nominee back to Oakland in the off-season, and he retaliated perfectly with a new team he saw worth.
Sweeped in four games by the Seattle Mariners: September 20-23
A spent most of September outside looking at the wild card because they couldn’t capitalize on a stagnant race to get back into the picture. For most of August and September, the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners hesitated to dominate a few post-season spots—the competition was open. But A were not up to the challenge.
That was most evident when Players A came home to their last stand on home soil riding the smoke of a five-game winning streak in the face of their last chance to dominate the Mariners. Instead, Team A looked almost uninspired as they made four sweeping matches straight to the jaw. Four of the 14 losses were to sailors this chapter. Sweeping the first place Houston Astros immediately afterwards felt uncelebrated and unimportant afterwards.