Last night, my favorite Oakland A’s player from my childhood announced his retirement. Mark Ellis joined the A’s in 2002 and was so consistently amazing with the team until his trade to Colorado in 2011. Even though he wasn’t a big name like Miguel Tejada or Erich Chavez, he stuck through some tough years for the team but remained professional.
Drafted by the Royals in 1999, Ellis came to Oakland with Cory Lidle in a three-team trade in 2001 for Angel Berroa, A.J. Hinch, and Ben Grieve.
“It was definitely time,” Ellis told The Chronicle on last night about his retirement. “My kids are getting older and I kind of realized it was time to do something else.”
What made him so endearing for me was that he always seemed to be clutch at the plate. But his offensive stats aren’t what made him a player with so much longevity, rather it was his defense. His .991 career fielding percentage is fifth best all time among second basemen. He even set a then record .997 fielding percentage in 2006. It still shocks me that he never won a Gold Glove in his career.
Out of the Big Three the A’s had in their early years of dominance in the 2000s, Barry Zito was my favorite over Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. All three pitchers were great, but it was something about that Zito curveball that just amazed me.
Zito was great for Oakland and spent seven seasons with the team, making three All-Star games and winning a Cy Young award in 2002. He was great for Oakland, but when he was to hit the market, I knew his time was gone. It was either San Francisco or the New York Mets and he choice to stay in the Bay.
I grew up an Oakland A’s fan and I didn’t really invested into baseball until 1998. That was a great year for the game itself with the home run chase going on. But since I grew up in the East Bay and my heart still broken over Mark McGwire being traded, I tried to find a hero on the A’s that would comfort my sadness. That came in the form of this power hitter named Jason Giambi. He had been with the team for a few years at that point but it wasn’t until the 2000 season did I really become a huge fan.
He won the MVP that year and the A’s made the playoffs for the first time in a while. The team was ready to build upon his talents and he was going to be the core strength of this group of young talented players. The first bobblehead I ever got was a Giambi bobblehead. I recall going to a lot of games in the following season and if my non-Brian Williams memory serves me right, I was there for this game.
Entering this offseason, I expected the A’s to make moves. After all, they went all in in 2014 and didn’t win. As a result, the team was gutted and needed to reinvent themselves. I don’t think the talent pool is so bad that they have to rebuild. But instead, they had to make some changes to make it work in a year or two.
Nobody is sacred with Billy Beane as the general manager and I know that. Trading players away to gather talent for the future is what the A’s have always been about. And it’s not surprising that a trade like this could happen. I am an A’s fan. I know this. I’ve been through it. I don’t get emotional about it.
The Athletics just shared the above quote from The Sandlot. It’s a good quote except for one problem: they misspelled “heroes.”
However, if the quote was referring to the delicious sandwich, then it’s not a misspelling. But I don’t think Babe Ruth was talking about sandwiches.
Or maybe he was?
Crowd sourcing is good business. It’s great to use when engaging with fans. The only thing that could become an issue is timing.
Take the A’s for example. What they’re asking on Twitter is fine. But doing it a week after their heartbreaking postseason elimination was not a good idea.
Fans responded accordingly.
Now that it’s official, the River Cats have announced their new affiliation with the Giants. Much like last time, the Twitter reaction was not nice and NSFW.