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Oakland A's

Bring Him Back

by Trevor Freeman

I will be quite honest. I still cannot think rationally when his name pops up. It hurt when Mark McGwire left for St. Louis and it stung when the 49ers shipped Joe Montana to Kansas City. However, those departures will never compare to the way I felt when Jason Giambi signed with the New York Yankees. I can honestly say that it tore the hymen of my sports virginity. It has been quite awhile since I penned an article that did not involve the sport of water polo, but I feel compelled to jump back into the fray with the news that Jason Giambi is on the radar of my beloved Oakland A’s.

Being an A’s fan means getting used to seeing players come and go. That is just the way it works in Oakland. Billy Beane treats the team like he treats his stock portfolio. He is constantly buying low and selling high. We know this and have improvised over time. Instead of buying replica jerseys we buy T-Shirts with the team’s logo on it. Instead of having an attachment to a player, we have one to our General Manager. Instead of being disappointed that we have no chance to sign a C.C. Sabathia, we convince ourselves that a young gun like Trevor Cahill will be just as good when given the opportunity. When a Barry Zito or Tim Hudson leaves, we shrug our shoulders and wait for the next hotshot replacement.

Jason Giambi was different though. All of us let ourselves fall into the trap of believing that he would be an Oakland A forever. We deluded ourselves into believing that he cared more about the fans and more about the franchise than he did about the money. We believed that he would give us a hometown discount. Quite simply, we thought being a member of the Oakland A’s mattered to him.

If you took all the hours of my life I spent searching message boards and reading random “Giambi is willing to give a hometown discount” articles, it would equal the entire summer of 2000. From 1999-2001, Jason Giambi was the Bay Area’s mayor. We chanted M-V-P every time he strode to the plate, bought him beers, let him have sex with our girlfriends………..okay maybe not so much that last one, but you get my drift. He could do no wrong in any of our eyes. The way we loved him as a ballplayer and as a human being was unconditional. He was the leader of our frat pack.

Then it happened. December 13, 2001 is a date that will live in infamy. For it was on that date that Jason Giambi left. Not only did he leave but he joined a Yankee team that had just defeated us again in the postseason. In two months he went from hanging Jermaine Dye’s jersey in the dugout in an effort to circle the A’s postseason wagon to leaving us in a decision that looked to be all about the money. While the switching teams stung, that was not the dagger that made him the object of our wrath. That was not the reason the mayor of Lafayette’s son winged a beer at him in the on-deck circle. The night Jason Giambi sold his soul to the Empire; he went on David Letterman and uttered his “Top 10 Reasons for leaving Oakland”. It was the moment that the words, “Have you ever been to Oakland” came out of his mouth that I along with the rest of the Bay Area turned on him. The disappointment of his turning down the A’s six-year $91 million dollar offer to go play with the Yankees turned to anger. What he did to us would be the equivalent of a longtime girlfriend breaking your heart after five years of dating on a Tuesday and then proceeding to immediately sleep with your most bitter rival the following Saturday.

Quite honestly, there was no bigger hater of Jason Giambi than the man writing this column. When he struggled in New York, I always was the first to make the “I always said I would rather have Scott Hatteberg” comment. Then it happened. First came the report of a possible tumor and then came the steroid use. In the exact moment that I could have showed the most spite, I reacted in a way that I never saw coming. I defended him. It was a development that shocked me, my girlfriend and now wife who knows nothing about baseball, every co-worker and friend.

Here’s the thing, maybe I wished he would be mediocre and never win a World Series with the Yankees. However, I never wanted him to be the guy ripped daily in columns by the Phil Mushnicks, Mike Lupicas and Bill Maddens of the world. I never wanted Jason Giambi to be the subject of ridicule.

The guy provided too many moments for that to happen. Before he sold his soul, Jason Giambi was the ringleader of an A’s team that I may have enjoyed watching more than the 1989 World Champion A’s team (which is odd considering that the 1989 A’s team rivals the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and 1974-1975 Golden State Warriors as being the greatest teams in the history of professional team sports). Those teams with Jason, Miguel, Chavvy and “The Big Three” were the ones who brought me back post-strike.

From a baseball perspective, Jason Giambi can still help us. He hit thirty-two homers last season and had an on-base percentage of .373. Slot him in front of Matt Holliday and a rejuvenated Eric Chavez and you have the heart of an order that can win a weak AL West. More than that, adding our clubhouse leader might give us the swagger that we have not had the past two seasons.

One of the great reconciliations in television history occurred on “Friday Night Lights”. It involved Matt Saracen, “Smash” Williams, Jason Street and Tim Riggins breaking onto the Dillon High turf with Street coaching Saracen on how to throw the deep out. After “Smash” and “QB 1” fell asleep, Tim Riggins and Jason Street were left sitting out on the field at dawn. Once best friends, they turned into mortal enemies when Jason Street found out that Riggins was doing the hibbity-dibbity with Lila Garrity (Street’s girlfriend at the time). Weeks had passed and anger had been built up however the two old best friends and teammates were now sitting on their storied field together. Before the moment could pass, Tim Riggins asked, “friends?” Street responded with “always” and then punctuated it with a meaningful “Texas forever.” Riggins followed up with a “Texas forever, man” which left Goosebumps up and down my arms. I feel like that is the kind of storybook ending both Jason Giambi and the fans of Oakland need. The Prodigal Son needs to return to the only professional city that ever loved him.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

8 replies on “Bring Him Back”

Trevor you can ALWAYS find analogies between FNL and real life. I love it. Is Lyla Garrity really banging Derek Jeter by the way?

“You’re a coward! You’re a coward, Riggins! Always will be!”

Giambi going back to the A’s would be a fitting end. Maybe they can end up with a “Oakland forever” fist bump.

Thank you! I just pray that NBC brings Friday Night Lights back from only being on DirecTV. I mean you can’t tell me Friday Night Lights wouldn’t be a success if it was on a cable channel like USA.

Apparently the A’s and Devil Rays all want either Giambi, Pat Burrell or Garret Anderson. However both teams are waiting for the other one to strike because then the market value goes down for the other two. It is a reverse bidding war. What’s interesting is the market seems so depressed, I wonder if Adam Dunn might fall into that price range.

LOL. I’m not sure if I will ever care enough to refer to them as anything other than the Devil Rays.

You might get your wish:

A’s closing in on deal with Giambi

By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer 1 hour, 22 minutes ago

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Jason Giambi might just finish his career where it began more than a decade ago.

The free-agent first baseman was nearing a deal Tuesday to return to the Oakland Athletics nearly 14 years after making his debut with the club, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the contract hasn’t been completed. The addition of Giambi would be the second big offseason acquisition by general manager Billy Beane, who made a trade with Colorado for star outfielder Matt Holliday back in November.

Giambi, who turns 38 on Thursday, spent the past seven seasons with the Yankees. New York declined its 2009 $22 million option for him after last season.

Oakland announced in early November that Bob Alejo would become its new director of strength and conditioning—a sign Giambi might be next to come back and return to his roots. Alejo served as the A’s strength and conditioning coach from 1993-01 and followed Giambi to the Yankees, working for Giambi personally and for the team during some years.

Giambi won the AL MVP for Oakland in 2000, then left for New York following the 2001 campaign. He enjoyed each return visit to the Bay Area, seeing old friends and making trips to the popular California chain of In-N-Out Burger. He said he tried to open an In-N-Out in New York to no avail.

Giambi, a second-round draft pick by the A’s in 1992, is a career .286 hitter in 14 big league seasons. He made his major league debut for Oakland on May 8, 1995.

Giambi batted .247 with 32 home runs and 96 RBIs in 2008 for the Yankees, who missed the playoffs despite their $200 million payroll after a run of 13 consecutive postseason appearances. That’s just one shy of the record set by the Atlanta Braves from 1991-05.

Apparently Oakland is getting Giambi for $4 million this year with an option at $6.5 million. They supposedly had $15 million to spend this offseason. With how cheap they added Giambi, I’m guessing we might still be in the Abreu sweepstakes or be in on a veteran pitcher.

Apparently they couldve gotten Pat Burrell cheap.

I can’t believe the Phillies didn’t resign him or even offer him something.

I was kind of surprised with that as well. I would have thought you guys make more of an effort to keep Burrell.

What’s interesting is the amount of good hitters without teams. Manny Ramirez can’t do any better than the Dodgers initial offer. Adam Dunn’s market isn’t what one would think it should be. Bobby Abreu statistically has been one of the best ten hitters over the past five years and nobody is in on him. Garret Anderson has no market and he has proven to be clutch through the years. Orlando Cabrera is also out there to be had. Since Oakland is one of the few teams left with money, I am banking that we still might be able to land a guy like Cabrera or Abreu on the cheap.

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