Exciting, Adjective, Causing great enthusiasm and eagerness.
Synonyms: thrilling, exhilarating, action-packed, stirring, rousing, stimulating, intoxicating, electrifying, invigorating.
It’s evident, even from the dictionary, that exciting is a very subjective term. What’s exciting to one person — a roller coaster, a suspenseful novel or movie — may not be exciting to another. So to quantify who is considered the most exciting team in a sport, any sport, may not even be possible. But, when such a challenge presents itself, I cannot back down.
Many do not even consider baseball to be exciting. They are a sad group, not fully understanding the subtleties of baseball that set it apart and above from any other sport. So to say one baseball team is more exciting than the other 29, well, as in all things baseball, you better have some stats to back up your claim. So here goes, the case for the Oakland A’s, the most exciting team in baseball.
They have the lowest payroll in baseball. So, that’s not exciting in and of itself. But, what they have been able to do with their bottom of the barrel payroll, entering the season at $62 million, really is exciting. The A’s have put together the most improbable of contenders, piece by piece, surprising themselves and the baseball world along the way.
Sean Manaea throws a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox, baseball’s best, but not most exciting, team. Yes, the Red Sox are statistically, unquestionably, the best team in baseball. So for the lowly A’s to have their way with the powerhouse that had just won 8 in a row and 17 of 18, was nothing short of exciting.
The starting pitchers drop like flies leaving a vintage crew of starters. It was far from an exciting development each time the alert went off that another pitcher went down. But the crucial spring acquisitions of former A’s Trevor Cahill and Brent Anderson, along with the smart signing of Edwin Jackson to his 13th major league team and the trade for Mike Fiers made a patchwork of pitching that somehow chugged along like the little green and gold engine that could.
The bullpen is bolstered, and bolstered, and bolstered. The A’s added All-Star closers including Fernando Rodney and Jeurys Familia to their already formidable duo of Lou Trevino and Blake Treinen. The latter really in a league of his own, with a 0.79 ERA in 67 games and a repertoire of pitches that makes batters look silly.
These guys can rake. And not just a couple of them, but the A’s keep things exciting by always seeming one swing of the bat away from a comeback. The most memorable of these comebacks came at the hands of the Rangers in late July, who led 10-2 only to see the A’s score 11 unanswered runs to win in extra innings.
It’s a different hero every night. Yes, the A’s have the MLB homerun leader in Khris Davis, but when opposers pitch around him, the results can backfire. Case in point is Matt Olson‘s first career grand slam Wednesday in Seattle after KD was walked to load the bases. These guys gladly pass the bat, confident the next guy can get it done.
Defensive prowess led by Matt Chapman. The hot corner is just that with Chapman adding to the highlight reel on a nightly basis. Viewers are spoiled with his exploits, whether charging in to deny a bunt hit or diving over the tarp in foul territory. The other corner infielding Matt scoops balls at first like no other. And then there’s Ramon Laureano in center field who in a very short time has made runners think twice before they run on him.
Oakland’s exciting season will come to a head Wednesday when the A’s travel to New York to face the Yankees in the Wild Card game. They go in as the perennial underdog, and are ready to show the rest of the country what the excitement is all about.
Featured Image: 2018 Topps Now #777