Join beat writer John Hickey as he hosts an Oakland A’s live chat from Arizona.
The bespeckled face of nerdpower isn’t, ultimately, the face of baseball.
A’s second baseman Eric Sogard’s wild ride through the Twittersphere came to an end Friday morning when a late push got the Mets’ David Wright over the top and a victory in MLB Networks’ #FaceofMLB competition.
“It was like going to Disneyland,’’ Sogard said Friday after the results were announced. “I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.’’
Sogard did nothing to promote his own candidacy, and said he was shocked when A’s fans originally picked him as the Oakland contestant in the competition. But as he rolled past the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki, the Giants’ Buster Posey and the Jays’ Jose Bautista, his momentum morphed from a strong surge into a tidal wave.
Were fans into it? Just a little. They took photos of the man whose black-rimmed glasses have had him crowned the face of #nerdpower, digitally imposed them on every picture they could think of and inundated Twitter with them.
There was Sogard in a poster for the movie Fight Club. And Raiders of the Lost Ark. And Toy Story. And the list goes on.
“There were so many amazing memes,’’ Sogard’s wife, Kaycee, said. “Eric took it all in stride, but we loved them all. I’m going to track them all down and make a book of them. They’re too good to lose.’’
Sogard just laughed when asked if he was going to ask for a recount of the vote, which saw him lose to Wright by two percentage points, 51-49. Sogard had been ahead when the West Coast went to bed Thursday night, but the East Coast rallied early.
None of which bothered Sogard.
“It goes to show the passion of A’s fans,’’ Sogard said. “It’s not just about me, it’s about this team and the fans we have. They are amazing.’’
Reliever Sean Doolittle has a theory on how the Sogard phenomenon got so big so fast.
“Who are the Oakland A’s?’’ Doolittle said. A’s fans had a chance to flip baseball on its side and they did a great job of it.’’
As did the A’s players, at least those who are on Twitter.
“We had a blast with it,’’ Doolittle said. “It got to be seeing who could come up with the coolest things to say to promote Sogie.’’
Josh Reddick dropped a few names and got Larry the Cable Guy and WWE wrestler The Big Show on board on Sogard’s behalf.
Starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Dan Straily orchestrated a scam in which Gray directed to Straily a tweet of support of Sogard his “new’’ phone number, asking that Straily call him. The number was the A’s ticket office.
Jarrod Parker, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Griffin, Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and Tommy Milone all were out in front in leading the charge for Sogard. Even former A’s pitcher Travis Blackley, now pitching in Australia, chipped in, as did Brett Anderson and Pat Neshek, both of whom spent 2013 with the A’s.
Tweeted Norris: “Vote for the guy whose glasses are so powerful he can see the future.’’
Tweeted Crisp: “Who do you think showed @Coco_Crisp all his dance moves? Yup!! It was #EricSogard #FaceofMLB Sogie’s got skills.”
Tweeted Cook: “My timeline is a joke … #EricSogard #FaceofMLB all over the place!
“I think you saw the personality of this team come out through all this,’’ Gray said. “Everybody was into it.’’
Sogard, a second baseman who has a fight ahead of him to hold the job he won last spring, won’t soon forget any of this.
“We may not have the most fans, but we have amazing fans,’’ Sogard said. “They get the credit for all this. This was them.’’
As Thursday’s Cactus League lineup suggested, Josh Donaldson is looking at a new role for the A’s in 2014.
He drove in a team-best 93 runs for the A’s last season, mostly batting third, fourth, fifth and sixth. He was in the lineup batting second against the Brewers Thursday, and that’s likely to be where he fits in for Oakland moving forward.
The No.2 slot isn’t typically where teams put their most prolific RBI bat, so it says something about both the A’s and about Donaldson that this is the current thinking regarding the third baseman’s role in 2014.
Join beat writer John Hickey from the desert as he hosts his first live Oakland A’s chat of the season.
Our Oakland A’s Cactus League chat has been postponed until next week. Please check back for details.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson wasn’t particularly great company for the first week after the 2013 season ended in a playoff loss to Detroit.
The same goes for starting pitcher Jarrod Parker.
For manager Bob Melvin, it took longer.
The A’s became very comfortable knowing that Grant Balfour was their closer the last few years.
Their comfort level figures to be as good or better this time around, even with Balfour gone.
Jim Johnson, who has saved 50 games in each of the last two seasons for the Orioles, is the A’s new closer. He was in Oakland Friday in preparation for Saturday’s FanFest at the Coliseum and Arena, and he said he’s excited that spring training starts next weekend.
“Once the Super Bowl is over, it’s time to go,’’ Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to this opportunity.’’
The A’s will enter spring training with one of the youngest rosters in the Major Leagues.
There is a drawback to that, albeit a small one. When MLB.com just came out with its annual list of the top 100 prospects, the A’s only had one player on the list. Shortstop Addison Russell, who turned 20 on Thursday, ranks 12th.
Beyond that, nada for Oakland.
Bob Melvin ended the 2013 season with a bullpen he believed was the best he’d ever had at his disposal.
The relievers A’s manager Melvin called on last season went 24-18 with a 3.22 earned run average. The bullpen was the backbone of a second consecutive American League West title. The relievers won or saved 70 of the A’s 96 wins.
Now with spring training’s start drawing close, the manager says the Oakland bullpen for 2014 could be his best ever.
You may have read that John Jaso will head into spring training as the leading contender for the A’s designated hitter chores this year.
Jaso has read it, over and over again. Such is the power of the internet.
But the veteran catcher, whose contract with Oakland for the 2014 season was just finalized, doesn’t take all that talk all that seriously.