In Which I Explain Something Relatively Meaningless in a Roundabout Way
Does Matty Stairs' home run last night avenge Dennis Eckersley? I'm going to choose "Yes."
The thought process is like this. Stairs is one of my all-time favorite Oakland A's. In fact, back in the late '90s, even though they sucked (and were frequently called the "Triple A's" by yours truly) the Beer League Softball nature of the club (Stairs, John Jaha and a Jason Giambi fueled every bit as much by In and Out 4x4s as by the 'Roids) was highly entertaining. Stairs hit 38 bombs in that first year when the A's became contenders again (1999), but that was his last good season, his numbers dropping massively in the playoff year of 2000 (over 100 OPS points), and Beane sent him packing that off-season.
He always got a great reception in Oakland. There was that stupid ass sign in the bleachers that said, "Hit it Up Stairs, Matt!" And, of course, that great, penguin-esque body and Hell Bent for Leather uppercut.
Got. Damn. That ball went far last night. Whew. Right field pavilion. Same place Gibson planted one 20 years ago.
So, Exhibit A. I love Matt Stairs. He is identified with, and had his finest seasons as a member of, the Oakland A's.
Oddly enough, I shared several rounds of drinks on Saturday night with a young man sporting a Red Sox jersey with "Eckersley" across the back. Normally, I steer clear of New England sports fans and, in fact, had just walked out of a smallish alcove off the sports bar because of 12 drunk young men chanting "Let's Go Celtics!" at a baseball game. But I figured I'd give the guy a chance since he was honoring Eck (and the kid was only 24, so he was being born the last time Eck piched in Beantown). He was out from Bahstahn to see the Charger-Pats game and he and his buddy and their girlfriends and the assorted other lucky ass mofos who make up the Boston sports fan base that wandered by turned out to be good company and allowed me to get my inebriated Sports Geek on, which I don't get to do too often these days.
Exhibit B. Shots with a guy wearing an Eckersley jersey less than 48 hours previous.
It was right about AJ's bed time when Stairs ambled out of the dugout. I gave him a reprieve and sat him down next to me. I told him the history of the great Matt Stairs as an Athletic, of the many memories he gave me (and X, Stairs was her favorite A and she even made a sign for him that she displayed at the ballpark for Game 1 of the 2000 ALDS) and, above all else, the way he was about to swing from the heels. That's what I wanted my boy to see. What my friends and I call "Hitting Out."
He only took one cut, but I think he illustrated his attitude crystally and succinctly.
The world is not made up of random chance. It's all connected. There is no coincidence. Eck, you are relieved.