Athletics

Clean-shaven A's starter Mike Fiers reveals story behind strange beard

Clean-shaven A's starter Mike Fiers reveals story behind strange beard

In the dog days of summer, baseball players need to do things to keep the clubhouse loose.

Even if that means performing in front of 31,928 fans and thousands more on TV with the strangest beard imaginable.

That's exactly what A's starter Mike Fiers did Saturday night in Texas.

In case you missed it, Fiers was sporting a beard that looked like the letter "G."

While the beard might have gotten some laughs from his A's teammates and fans, it didn't help Fiers, who left the game in the second inning with right arm nerve irritation. He will undergo tests after experiencing numbness in his right hand.

After the A's 8-6 win over the Rangers, the beard was gone. Fiers met with the media in Arlington and he had shaved the "G" off his face.

"I got hurt," Fiers said when asked why he shaved. "I can't continue that. Just had to shave that off. One-start thing."

As Fiers explained, the strange beard was conceived with the help of his teammates.

"Just being funny, having fun with these guys," Fiers told reporters. "It's a long season, we're in mid-September and just to give the guys a laugh, I'm kinda the guy they want to laugh at, so they dared me to do it or didn't think I'd go out and pitch with it. But I don't care."

Fiers and his teammates got their inspiration from exactly the place you would expect -- the internet.

"We were just looking up fun things to do because I was thinking about shaving my beard and starting fresh," Fiers said. "But we were thinking about something funny to do and we were searching on Google for funny beards and that was one of them that came up."

Fiers' beard might have been a laughing matter, but the numbness in his hand isn't.

Before he does any more funny stuff on the field, he needs to make sure he's healthy.

Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

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USATSI

Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

Marcus Semien fell short of winning the AL MVP Award, but his third-place finish might be just the beginning.

At 29 years old, the A's shortstop still is very much in his prime and has significantly improved in each of his five seasons with Oakland.

When Semien first joined the A's at the age of 24, he was a decent hitter but looked completely lost in the field. In 2015, he committed a league-high 35 errors, prompting many to believe that he could never develop into a major-league shortstop.

But with the help of Ron Washington, Semien went to work. He spent hours upon hours working on his footwork, glovework, and consistency. Fast forward to 2019 and Semien has transformed into a back-to-back Gold Glove Award finalist.

Semien's offensive development has been just as impressive. This past season, the Bay Area native slashed .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs, 43 doubles, 92 RBI, and 123 runs scored. He notched career-highs in just about every offensive stat imaginable, ranking near the top of the majors in all of the important categories.

Most impressive, Semien's 8.1 WAR (wins above replacement) was fourth-best in baseball, behind only Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Cody Bellinger. Semien started all 162 games at shortstop, batting in the leadoff spot for 145 of those contests. And the scariest part for the rest of the league is that he continues to get better.

"He becomes a better hitter every year," A's manager Bob Melvin said earlier this year. "Nobody works harder than Marcus Semien. He knows what he needs to work on."

After the All-Star break, Semien arguably was the most productive hitter in baseball. In 70 games, he slashed .304/.396/.621 with 19 homers, 22 doubles, five triples, 44 RBI, and 62 runs.

If Semien continues at that rate next season, it would translate to 44 home runs, 51 doubles, 12 triples, 102 RBI, and 143 runs over the course of 162 games. That certainly is MVP-caliber.

Of course, the A's have a major decision to make -- Semien is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season and figures to see some big-money offers. Will Oakland sign its star shortstop to an expensive extension or instead turn the reigns over to young prospect Jorge Mateo?

[RELATED: A's Luzardo an intriguing case for 2020 Rookie of the Year]

Semien is entering his final year of arbitration, where he is projected to get $13.5 million. After that, the A's could choose to make a qualifying offer to Semien for 2021, but there is no guarantee he would accept.

If 2020 does end up being Semien's last year in Oakland, it figures to be another special one. This year he was an MVP finalist. Perhaps next year he'll just be the MVP.

A's gain hope as City of Oakland drops lawsuit against Alameda County

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AP

A's gain hope as City of Oakland drops lawsuit against Alameda County

There's still a long way to go, but the A's are one step closer to getting a new stadium built in Oakland.

On Wednesday, the Oakland City Council directed the City Attorney to immediately drop Oakland's lawsuit against Alameda County, paving the way for the sale of the Coliseum.

"We are pleased that the Oakland City Council has directed the City Attorney to immediately drop this lawsuit," A's President Dave Kaval said in a team statement. "We are committed to the long-term success of East Oakland and the Coliseum site. We look forward to finalizing our agreement with Alameda County, and creating a mutually beneficial partnership with the City of Oakland."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred previously had warned Oakland officials in October to drop the lawsuit for fear of losing the team to relocation.

With the lawsuit dropped, the City of Oakland and the A's can move forward on the sale of the Coliseum land, on which the A's intend to develop housing, shops, restaurants and a park that will help fund the Howard Terminal site.