12/27/10 10:00 AM EST
Braden helps make 2010 memorable for A's
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
Beane will subsequently forever be linked to his on-screen self, Brad Pitt, and his club will likely garner national interest while at the same time promoting popcorn and candy sales in local movie theaters.
Until then, though, the A's are set to make headlines without the help of Pitt or fellow co-stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill and Robin Wright. Rather, they'll rely on their own promising up-and-coming cast of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez, among others, to create a fixture of buzz in Oakland and beyond.
That process seemingly already started in 2010, when the A's young core served as one of multiple highlights in an eventful year that included several memorable storylines as Oakland played to an 81-81 mark, good for second in the American League West.
Lefty Dallas Braden, one of the game's most desirable clubhouse personalities, made a name for himself in more ways than one in the 2010 season that was. Thus, when looking back at the year's notable events, it's no surprise the southpaw receives mention twice. Here's a peek back at Braden's doings, as well as the other top storylines -- covering the good, the bad and the obscure -- that came out of Oakland this year.
5. Injury bug swarms Oakland ... again.
The 2010 season offered a mixture of hope and dismay for fans of the green and gold, the latter largely seen through a familiar dose of injuries that affected the likes of Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Eric Chavez, Brett Anderson, Andrew Bailey, Coco Crisp, Mark Ellis, Ryan Sweeney, Kurt Suzuki, Kevin Kouzmanoff and midseason acquisition Conor Jackson. All in all, the A's used the disabled list 23 times -- second-most in Oakland history -- and managed to have at least five players on the DL all season, which ended with the dismissal of head trainer Steve Sayles. The club's injury woes, to which Beane points when discussing his team's fourth straight non-winning season, left many wondering what could have been -- especially down the stretch in the AL West race -- given a healthy squad.
4. Godzilla comes to town.
Christmas came early in 2010 for the A's organization, which presented Japanese veteran slugger Hideki Matsui to more than 100 reporters at a welcoming press conference in Oakland on Dec. 14. Matsui, known around the league as "Godzilla," not only provides the A's with a proven clutch hitter, but also lends life to an ailing club that has watched crowds diminish in an outdated ballpark over the last few seasons. Matsui's arrival marked one of several winter upgrades for Oakland, which also brought in outfielders David DeJesus and Josh Willingham via trade. Thanks to this trio, led by a perpetual fan favorite in Matsui, the A's are subsequently entering relevancy again.
3. "Stick it, A-Rod."
A war of words ensued between Dallas Braden and Alex Rodriguez after the Yankees third baseman disobeyed what Braden maintains is one of baseball's unwritten rules by jogging across the pitcher's mound. Following the April 22 incident, Braden suggested A-Rod "take a note from his captain over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game." A-Rod, meanwhile, found all the commotion amusing, telling reporters, "I'd never quite heard that, especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career." Tension ultimately fizzled by year's end, but not before Rodriguez claimed a day after the bitter exchange he didn't want to extend Braden's 15 minutes of fame. A mere 17 days later, Braden threw a perfect game, after which point his grandmother playfully announced, "Stick it, A-Rod," with a smile.
2. Cahill, Gonzalez coming-out parties
On March 25, baby-faced hurlers Cahill and Gonzalez -- each vying to break camp as the club's fifth starter -- combined to strike out 11 over nine innings of work against the Dodgers in a Cactus League contest. Less than 10 days later, the latter was chosen to start the season in Oakland. By season's end, however, both had aided in the creation of one of the game's best young starting staffs. Cahill, 22, began the year on the DL, tiptoed around Triple-A Sacramento for two outings and then returned to Oakland and transformed into an All-Star worthy of mention in the Cy Young discussion. Gonzalez, without much ruckus, got his emotions in control and put up equally impressive numbers at age 24. The duo's ability to garner at least 15 wins each (Cahill 18-8, Gonzalez 15-9) while aged 24 years or younger represented just the 17th time in the post-World War II Era that a Major League team has done so.
1. Mother's Day perfecto secures Braden's place in baseball lore
With his late mother Jodie Atwood watching from above and his grandma Peggy Lindsey looking on from the stands in Oakland, Braden handed both women, not to mention an entire baseball community, an unforgettable Mother's Day in the form of the game's 19th perfecto against the Rays on May 9. Mr. Perfecto, along with his equally witty grandmother, became media darlings overnight and exited 2010 as one of baseball's best feel-good stories of the year. Lindsey, who raised Braden after his mother succumbed to cancer when he was in high school, joined millions in watching her grandson grace the cover of Sports Illustrated, deliver David Letterman's Top Ten List via satellite, wake up with CBS for "The Early Show" and become something of a household name.