Here’s some quick takes on the A’s 50th Anniversary (In Oakland) Team that was unveiled Monday morning:
**Fans voted for this team, and overall I’d say they did a nice job getting all noteworthy eras of Oakland A’s baseball represented. But there’s no getting around the fact that fan votes are a popularity contest. For this list, it really helped a player’s case if they enjoyed one singular moment that etched itself in people’s memory or had a larger-than-life personality that struck a chord with fans. Scott Hatteberg was one of the 50 because of one swing he took in green and gold that was immortalized in the movie “Moneyball.”
Then there’s right-hander Dan Haren. There was a case to include him on the team based on Haren being one of just four Oakland pitchers ever to start an All-Star Game. But the fact is when you think of all-time great Athletics, Haren doesn’t jump to the forefront of your thoughts. However, he was part of a humorous Twitter exchange Monday morning when he saw he didn’t make the cut:
Also part of that 2006 ALCS team: https://t.co/jHkzvLmmYO— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 4, 2017
Wtf— dan haren (@ithrow88) December 4, 2017
You placed 69th. Fan vote. Sorry buddy.— Oakland Athletics 🌳🐘⚾️ (@Athletics) December 4, 2017
Nice— dan haren (@ithrow88) December 4, 2017
**For many franchises celebrating such an event, winning a Rookie of the Year award would probably be enough to make the team. But Oakland has had seven of them, and four didn’t land a spot on the team — relievers Andrew Bailey and Huston Street, shortstop Bobby Crosby and outfielder Ben Grieve. I won’t argue any of them were robbed, but again, no outrageous personalities here. And in Crosby’s case, he’s remembered more for what he didn’t do in the years after winning Rookie of the Year.
**Hats off to fans for voting super utility man Tony Phillips on the squad. He never made an All-Star team, never posted a great “stats” season. But players from those late 80’s pennant-winning teams will tell you what a key part of those clubs Phillips was.
**Although Phillips’ longevity with the A’s helped him, having a long career in green and gold wasn’t crucial to fans. Frank Thomas only spent 2006 and part of 2008 with Oakland. But that ’06 season alone sold voters. He hit 39 homers and finished fourth in MVP voting for a club that made it to the ALCS. And he’s the “Big Hurt”. No way he wasn’t making this list.
**I tried coming up with two players — one from long ago and one more contemporary — who I thought might have been snubbed. In the “way back” category, I’ll go outfielder Tony Armas. If younger fans don’t know the name, understandable. But Armas was an All-Star and finished fourth in MVP voting in the strike-shortened 1981 season for an A’s team that posted the American League’s best record. Plus, he made up one-third of a terrific early 80’s outfield that included Rickey Henderson and Dwayne Murphy. (And speaking of Murphy, justice was done including him on the 50th anniversary team).
For a more “current” snub, I’ll throw Brandon Moss out there. OK, maybe it’s a stretch, and maybe my own bias kicks in having covered Moss, who was one of the best interviews a reporter could ask for. But the guy was an All-Star in 2014 and hit 30 homers in 2013. And if we’re talking impact, his midseason arrival in 2012, and the power he provided, was a huge boost in the A’s magical run to the AL West title.