Baseball is unpredictable, which is why it is such as fascinating sport. As former major league pitcher Joaquin Andujar once exclaimed during the World Series, “You can sum baseball up in one word: Youneverknow.’’
Which brings us to the case of the Oakland A’s, who began this season in reverse, losing their first six games and seven of their first eight. They not only lost. They were blown out, outscored 59-19, equipped with the worst record in the majors. We won’t have to worry about them anymore.
The only ones who didn’t buy that were the A’s themselves. In one of recent baseball’s more stunning U-turns, woebegone Oakland ran off a dozen straight victories. They were partying in Jack London Square when the 1-7 last place A’s turned into the 13-7 first place A’s.
Remarkable sport, this baseball.
Right in the middle of the A’s recovery was 37-year-old Jed Lowrie, plucked off baseball’s scrap heap and plugged in at second base for Oakland. Lowrie has been around the baseball block a few times after coming up with Boston in 2008. There were two stints with Houston, two previous stays with the A’s and a notorious two-year stay in the New York Mets organization.
Lowrie was coming off his first All-Star selection, equipped with 1,000 career hits and 100 career home runs when the Mets swooped in to sign him to a two-year, $20 million contract. The only problem with the deal was that Lowrie had a bad knee, a knee that required surgery. Lowrie wanted the surgery. The Mets did not. And so he limped through two unproductive seasons, appearing in nine games with seven at-bats. For $20 million.
This compares with the Mets’ fiasco of a Bobby Bonilla contract which requires New York to pay Bonilla $1 million every July 1. It is known affectionately as Bobby Bonilla Day, the payoff for a deferred contract to a guy who has been retired for 20 years.
Once his Mets’ contract was completed, Lowrie went ahead with the knee surgery and then signed a minor league deal with Oakland that paid $1.5 million for making the roster. He became the starting second baseman and was in the middle of the A’s renaissance, batting over .300 during the winning streak.
The A’s streak was the team’s longest since 2002, when the A’s won 20 straight and the team’s third longest streak since moving to Oakland in 1968.
All of which suggests that Joaquin Andujar was right.