Athletics

Marcus Semien says it's 'really cool' to be named 2019 AL MVP finalist

Marcus Semien says it's 'really cool' to be named 2019 AL MVP finalist

For the first time since 2002, the Oakland A's have a top-three finisher in the MVP voting.

Marcus Semien was named a finalist for the AL MVP Award on Monday night, joining Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

"It's really cool," Semien said on a conference call. "I was just sitting there with my family on the couch and we were just kind of hoping. It's going to be tough to win it, but just to be top three and see your name in between those guys, it's really cool."

Semien, 29, enjoyed a career year, slashing .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs, 43 doubles, seven triples, 92 RBI, and 123 runs. He ranked second in the AL with 343 total bases and third with 83 extra-base hits, while starting every game of the season at shortstop.

"The 162 games played was a big one for me," Semien said. "I think just the extra-base hits and total bases, I was very happy about. Those led to a lot of runs scored, so these are things that helped us win, I think. When you're scoring runs in the leadoff spot, getting on base, the walks were higher, so just all of those numbers and seeing how well our team did in the second half this year really made me happy." 

Defensively, Semien was a Gold Glove Award finalist for the second straight year. He led AL shortstops with a .981 fielding percentage, 436 assists, and 85 double plays. His 7.8 SABR Defensive Index ranking was second-best.

"I think, first, just being out there on the field every day and learning," Semien said of his breakout season. "Learning about my swing, figuring out a better approach than I've had in years past. Defensively, cut the errors down. But really, the offense -- the OPS and everything just shot up once I started controlling the strike zone. You start to get better pitches to hit and you do more damage with them."

Semien will try to become the eighth A's player ever to win the MVP Award and the first since Miguel Tejada in 2002. It won't be easy, as Trout and Bregman are considered the favorites.

[RELATED: Why signing Semien would energize fans]

Trout, already a two-time MVP, slashed .291/.438/.645 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI. Bregman posted a .296/.423/.592 slash line with 41 homers and 112 RBI.

The winner will be announced on Nov. 14.

Why Dallas Braden vehemently opposes MLB's latest proposal to players

Why Dallas Braden vehemently opposes MLB's latest proposal to players

All major professional sports leagues face three main hurdles in returning during the coronavirus pandemic. 

How to manage everyone's safety, how to modify the game rules, and how to allocate money between the players and the league.

It’s that third part which remains MLB’s final, yet biggest challenge to clear.

“It’s almost like you’re at the top of the hill,” NBC Sports California A's broadcaster and former pitcher Dallas Braden said Wednesday. “It’s like we’re right there. We can see it, and it’s a matter of trying to figure out how everybody is going to be able to walk away from this okay in their minds.”

Players have widely opposed the latest proposal from the MLB, which essentially is a second wave of pay cuts for a 2020 season. But this time, the percentage of reduction greatly increases with the player's total salary.

As ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Wednesday, MLB proposed that a $563,500 salary would turn into $262,000 for 2020. Meanwhile, a player signed for $30M would be reduced to $6.95M.

“When you start hand-selecting employees, you are absolutely going to be creating a divide," Braden said. "And it’s because you’re now telling these two sides, who are on the same side, that they are separate.”

The MLB Players Association is expected to counter MLB's proposal by the end of the week, Passan reported later Wednesday night, citing sources. Passan reported that the players are expected to propose a plan that includes more than 100 games and a guarantee of full prorated salaries for the 2020 season

Braden says players have earned their present position of leverage from their years of hard work before they were ever promised an opportunity in Major League Baseball.

“What that person is doing is saying ‘You know what, boss man’,” Braden said. “I’m not going to take that 70 percent haircut you’re offering me right now. Because I’ve been working a swing-shift. I’ve been doing graveyard, double-time. I’ve been saving up so when something like this happens, thankfully I’m not in a position to have to take that 70 percent haircut.”

But players at the major league level aren't the only ones being impacted. Minor leaguers are suffering as well, as the chances of a minor-league season taking place appear slimmer and slimmer. 

No season would likely mean little-to-no compensation for thousands of players, many of whom were already financially constrained.

“Minor leagues are littered with two-bedroom apartments, stacked with eight to ten guys high,” Braden said. “Three in a room, figuring it out. Just figuring it out.”

As for rules and game format changes, Braden believes players will make the best of difficult adaptations. He also believes the A’s will perform as expected, no matter what their schedule looks like.

“I’ve always thought we were an extremely attractive ballclub. Nothing keeping us away from making a push towards that division.”

[RELATED: Why A's should break protocol, sign Semien for the long haul]

Unfortunately at this juncture, Braden is pessimistic about the possibility of MLB and its players finding common ground.

“I hate to say it, but, I think I’ll be seeing you next year, before I see you this year.”

Ever wonder why the A's play 'Celebration' following home victories?

Ever wonder why the A's play 'Celebration' following home victories?

After every A’s home win, without fail you’ll hear “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang blaring across the speakers as the team bumps fists on the field. 

But … why? Why this song? 

Let’s take it back to 1981, when the tune was at the top of the charts. That's when the A’s decided to make that their celebratory theme song in order to enhance the ballpark experience.

All ballparks used the organ to play their songs back then, but the Oakland Coliseum that was the first place to play pop music.

At one point, they tried to steer away from the catchy song and introduce something more local. But that wasn’t much of a success with fans.

You can’t mess with what’s not broken.

Find out more about the song that is synonymous with victory in the video above. 

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