I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself: Anxious Reflections At the Half Way Mark
“What is happening in Oakland, Ray Fosse?!”
“I do. Not. Know. Glen Kuiper!”
–Exuberant exchanges between Oakland Athletics TV announcers Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse, respectively, following a walk-off win during the 2012 season.
How does Bob Melvin do what he does so calmly while I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown? How has BoMel retained such a calm and mellow demeanor as the A’s continue to roll along either tied for, ½ games back of, or leading the A.L. West? Who are these Melvin Martians in green and gold that will drop two straight series on the road only to arrive back home and sweep the Reds, take a series from one of baseball’s best teams in the form of the Cardinals and then play nothing but exciting ball and take another series from the Cubbies? This is not the meltdown-prone team I’ve grown accustomed to and with this success a level of anxiety has fallen upon me that I can’t seem to shake. Having to suffer as an A’s fan over the previous seasons before Melvin’s arrival has made me almost certain that a crash of monumental scale in the form of injuries, a late summer Nolan Ryan orchestrated trade or some of catastrophe is coming down Hegenberger Way and for the first time I truly understand what Burt Bacharach meant when he said, “I just don’t know what to do with myself.”
Sure, I try and keep up with my routine and keep things on an even keel. I’ll head over to the local well and take in a game with my buddies over a few beers at The Kingfish but the A’s are playing so well that we no longer have cause to pry ourselves away from the TV to play shuffleboard and as a result I haven’t rolled a “leaner” since spring training! I try and move forward and make my way to the Temescal Alley Barbershop so Joe can get me high and tight but instead of talking about the genocide Bob Geren and Billy Beane conspired to commit on A’s fans a few seasons ago, we end up talking about things like what a nice weekend we’re having and how pleasant it was to spend the day at the Lake Merritt farmers market. “Yes, Joe, I do know how tasty an organic South American mango can be. And no, Joe, I do not know why we’re yelling!” Could it be my mistrust of the A’s of recent years was misplaced fear and has Bob Melvin, with his brilliant professor like approach to the game, planted something in my cold, cynical, bruised and broken heart that has been missing for years? It’s no farmer’s market avocado but I think its hope. And I think it’s growing.
Granted, we’re still a week and a half from the All Star break so all things tragic can still happen but the A’s are off to something like their best start in, what, 21 years? Am I anxious because I’m allowing myself to believe for the first time in a long time that a new successful era of A’s baseball has arrived? We were all so thrilled during the “Moneyball” era but that time was also so violently and cruelly ripped away with no clear explanation that it felt like it was a weird, surreal early 2000’s hung over dream. Now, with Melvin at the helm, even Brad Pitt, err, I mean Billy Beane seems reinvigorated and is actually going after some really interesting young talent like Nate Freiman and Jed “Ear Flaps” Lowrie.
So if the Bob Melvin era is indeed upon us, and working, how long until my weary heart welcomes some optimism to fill those holes Milton Bradley kicked open? If time heals all wounds and the A’s continue to play like time is on their side then perhaps it’s time to finally lower my guard, pick up some fresh quinoa, leave my fears at will call and let BoMel and the A’s show me what love is really all about: FIRST PLACE!!