I’m at Oracle Arena preparing for the Warriors-Kings battle of the century. But I gotta get something off my chest. Yes, I am venturing from my assigned topic. But this inner rant is bubbling over and I have nowhere else to vent.
I’m hearing the school of thought that A’s closer Grant Balfour’s late-game trouble-making was a bad thing. Apparently, he committed the cardinal sin of underdogs, which is making the favorite angry. But I guess I see it differently. Because I thought, in one sentence, Balfour illustrated the A’s best chance of winning the World Series.
“Hey man,” Balfour told reporters, relaying the PG version of what he said to to Detroit DH Victor Martinez, “You want to stare me down like that and you got a problem, then come on out.”
That’s the mindset that’s going to get the A’s over the hump. That’s the moxie it’s going to take to seize the franchise’s first World Series title since 1989.
It seemed unnecessary, since the A’s were well on their way to a 2-1 series lead. But Oakland fans should be encouraged by the ninth-inning, benches-clearing jaw jacking that took place in the A’s 6-3 win in Detroit. It was a peek inside the heart of the Athletics, and it appears this team might really be ready to climb this mountain.
The passive approach is to let sleeping dogs lie, not give the Tigers anything to be amped about heading into Game 4. But that’s weak. That can’t be these A’s. They’re not going to win seeking the path of least resistance. They can’t merely hoe the other team loses instead of going to take it from ‘em.
The A’s best chance is to be young, be fearless, be aggressive. That’s how you get through perhaps the best starting rotation in the postseason. That’s how you take down Boston in Fenway, likely the next hurdle should they advance. When these A’s are most special, its because they aren’t scared. They don’t care if their pie celebrations come off as over the top, or if the stadium is half empty, or if they’re overlooked and underappreciated by the media and the greater baseball community.
Rookie Sonny Gray set the tone for that edge in Game 2. His performance was nothing short of gangsta. Facing an 0-2 series hole, against the same Justin Verlander who punked the A’s last postseason, Gray did more than not back down. He went at the Tigers.
Fittingly, Balfour continued that theme Monday. He started it all with the classic bar-fight-igniting line: “What the (bleep) you looking at, (bleep)?” In a critical game three, the A’s not only beat the Tigers, in their home park, but they pulled their card for dessert.
Leave it to Balfour rage to raise the stakes.
But it was a good thing. If Oakland is indeed the team everyone thinks it is, then it will have the back of its crazy-cousin closer. You want the A’s hoping to get a motivated Martinez, eager to subdue a revenge-seeking Prince Fielder. Because the reality is, Balfour’s edge-of-crazy, take-on-all-comers mentality is the key to the Athletics advancing.
“It’s all good,” Balfour added. “I’m cool with it. I like it. I like a little fire.”
OK. I’m done. Back to Warriors.