They have baseball's worst record (4-10), a nonexistent offense (50 runs scored), and have allowed more runs (92) than any other team to start the young season — and I saw it coming.
Another team holds a 9-6 record, good for a first-place tie in the division — I saw that coming, too.
I saw it all coming, but I saw backwards. The first team is my home away from hometown team, the Detroit Tigers, who were supposed to be in first place. The second is my Oakland A's, who were supposed to be among the worst teams in the league.
Ain't baseball great?
Despite Oakland's nice start, I still haven't lost sight of one thing: The A's are still terrible; the Tigers are still good.
Major League Baseball's season starts this way every year — it's the return of the twilight zone all over again. Some of the best teams are still hibernating, and some of the worst teams are giving fans a false sense of hope.
I don't get many Tigers games out here, so I'll be following 162 games of A's baseball this season — no matter how boring they may be — just like a true fan should. The first 15 games have been fine; the next 147 probably won't be. For those of you who want to remain true fans of terrible teams, here's my three-step program for coping with a hopeless season:
Step One: Catch me if you can
The A's are not going to win the American League West. The Angels are just better than them; same story with the Mariners. Oakland can't compete with them this season. The Florida Marlins can't compete, the Kansas City Royals can't (sure, they have talent, but they can't hang with Detroit and Cleveland all season), either — all those teams in first place or sniffing first place that won't be there by season's end.
But the A's are in first place right now.
Look, just accept that the final picture will not be a pretty one. Enjoy this while you can. A crappy 162-game season can be broken into a bunch of good 10-, 15-, even 20-game seasons. The A's are have had a good 15-game season — but could go 3-12 in their next 15-gamer.
I'm not thinking about that now. I'm enjoying this small sample of what will be limited success this season — all fans of crappy teams should do the same.
Step Two: Patience is a virtue
Experiencing some of those hopeless 10-, 15-, even 20-game seasons is inevitable — your team stinks and it's going to happen, so just accept that now and make your life easier.
So what do you do when your team is miring in a 3-12 funk? You accept that wins and losses are meaningless this season — until, of course, your team starts winning again. But yeah, for the moment, we just don't care about winning.
Instead, we look to the future with our present.
For prospect junkies, there's always something worth watching. We get to root for young players who are finally big-league ready after years and years of waiting for them to get the call — no crappy team can take that away from you. Tampa Bay, you're 3-7 in your last 10, but Evan Longoria has finally (after a whole 13 days in Triple-A) arrived to give you a glimpse of how good your team may be one day. If the Rays lose their next eight games, you can still be happy. You get to watch Longoria.
Step Three: Wakeup and smell the artificial turf
You have to draw the line somewhere.
Once your team has gone 1-14 in five of its last six 15-game mini-seasons, you have my permission to wave the white flag at the 2008 season.
Your duties as a Major League fan are over, but that is really just the beginning. You still have Triple-A prospects to give up on...and Double-A prospects...then High-A prospects — you get the picture. You can never really throw the towel in. There's always someone — even if it's just one prospect (assuming you're not an Astros fan) — in the organization to root for.
And if your organization is so bad that the big league club and each of its so-called prospects are stinking it up — which can't really be possible — well, watch the Arena Football League and start counting the days till the 2009 campaign begins.
Adam Loberstein is getting a head start on Step Three as he covers the Oakland A's Triple-A affiliate. You can talk River Cats baseball with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.