by Trevor Freeman
I believe in signs. I do. I firmly believe in karma as well. I am one of those nutjobs who honestly thinks that if I screw somebody over it will come back to not only haunt me but quite possibly my beloved Oakland A’s. Well yesterday morning, I held the door open in an elevator so that somebody who was beaded with sweat could run in. Not only that, but I chipped in three dollars to my co-worker’s March of Dimes fundraiser. You do little things like that not thinking there is going to be a payoff and then it happens. As I was eating lunch at my desk with the radio quietly blaring “Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins, I logged onto yahoo.com. And there it was. Staring me right in the eye.
“Thomas agrees to contract with the Oakland A’s”
Giddy, I turned up the radio just in time for Billy Corgan to sing the verse “Do you believe there’s not a chance tonight?” Fellow A’s fans, there is a chance and that is because Frank Thomas returned home for the major league minimum. “The Big Hurt” is back in Oakland and the A’s blossoming postseason hopes got a shot in the arm that only a legend could provide.
“……To watch the A’s play is to know that the impact Frank Thomas is having on the stretch run goes even deeper than those spectacular numbers. Every single time he comes up to the plate there is an anticipation of something great happening. It’s an edge. A cockiness. A Hall of Fame flair that has caused opposing pitchers knees to buckle and their collars to tighten. It is clutch three-run homers that have been sinking enemy ships. It is the fact that Thomas has single-handedly reversed Oakland’s usual September stumbles and has the A’s humming towards October.”
You know those movies where the guy and the girl break up and a couple of years later they wonder why that happened and realize how much they were in love with each other. That’s the way Frank Thomas coming back to Oakland feels right now. Thomas was somebody who came storming into our lives and breathed fire into our team. He was the catalyst of our 2006 AL West Championship team that bowed out in the American League Championship Series. He was the linchpin of our lineup and when he left after that MVP caliber year, we missed his presence like John Daly misses a Pabst Blue Ribbon. To have him back in a year which we have started off surprisingly strong and are sporting the second best record in the American League has absolutely reinvigorated a fan base that is used to saying “goodbye” but never “hello again”.
I’m a firm believer in that good teams have to have a swagger. Frank Thomas gave us swagger in 2006. Everytime he swung that metal pole around his head in the on deck circle you could see the opposing pitchers begin to tense up. When he strode to the plate, 94.6% of pitchers had a “I am not throwing him anything near the strike zone” look on their face. There is a reason why Frank Thomas has a lifetime .OBP of .420 and that is because pitchers are flat-out scared of him. Even now having missed games due to Toronto’s bonehead decision making, Thomas is 26th in the majors with thirteen walks.
“I have already started taping his games in Oakland, just in case I have a son who is right-handed. The reason being that I want to be able to show him one of the purest right-handed swings the game of baseball has ever seen…..”
It boggles my mind that Toronto would let Frank Thomas walk when everybody knows Thomas is a historically slow starter. In 2006, or as I like to call it “The Year Frank Thomas Got Robbed of the MVP Award because his games start at 10:05 EST”, Thomas started the year mired in a 10 for 60 funk and ended with a September flourish that included ten Home Runs and twenty-six RBI’s in its first nineteen days. Over the last two seasons, Frank Thomas has hit sixty-five home runs and has driven in 209 runs. His bat will heat up and the Toronto fanbase should be outraged that the Blue Jays would cut Thomas knowing full well he would end up on another American League team. Their management has now put themselves in the position that if Oakland wins the Wild Card and Toronto does not, then somebody has to go.
“If you took Derek Jeter off of the New York Yankees, aren’t the Yankees still a playoff team? Maybe it’s a slightly tougher race, but without Jeter the Yankees would still win the AL East. With or without David Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox are playing golf in October. I’ll submit that Justin Morneau or Joe Mauer departing the Minnesota lineup would probably leave the Twins out in the cold, however since it’s not clear who is the MVP of their own lineup then it can’t be clear which one should be MVP of the entire American league. Frank Thomas wins this category hands down over every other MVP candidate. If you took Frank Thomas’ .281 BA, .391 OBP, 38 homers and 105 RBI’s (in only 126 games) out of the A’s lineup they are at best locked in a dead heat with the Anaheim Angels, if not completely out in the cold.”
Maybe it was just one year, but I think that one year meant as much to “The Big Hurt” as it did to the fans of Oakland. He carried himself with class the entire season and genuinely seemed to adore a fanbase that liked him back. Maybe Chicago was his first home but I think Oakland will be the stop that when he leaves, only fond memories will remain. Our franchise has some unfinished business to attend to that is now two years old. I think “The Big Hurt” knows that and has come home to finish what he helped start. Welcome back old friend. You were sorely missed.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]