Still, yesterday’s news was that Mark Ellis was traded to the Colorado Rockies was a little sad for me.
Sure, the guy was hitting .217. But it doesn’t have to do with what he was doing now, this season. It has to do with what he has done for the A’s for parts of 10 seasons.
Mark Ellis was a throw-in in the Ben Grieve for Johnny Damon trade in 2001. He was a rookie in 2002, the year of the 20-game win streak and my last A’s season as a resident of California. And he was plate with two on in the bottom of the 9th as the A’s were down by four runs in Game 5 of the 2002 ALDS.
It was my 25th birthday and I was at the game. I figured if the A’s were going to finally get out of the first round, I wanted to be there. Rookie second baseman Mark Ellis was the furthest A’s player from my mind. They had traded for veteran Ray Durham at the deadline. My favorite A was Eric Chavez. And of course there was Miguel Tejada, who had just put up an MVP season, and the Big Three. And this was the Twins. Surely we could beat the Twins.
But down four in the bottom of the 9th, there wasn’t much hope in the Coliseum. The A’s had a little life in them though. Two runners got on, and up stepped the rookie. And he crushed a three-run homer to center. The place errupted, and I’ll never forget the feeling of HOLY CRAP WE MIGHT ACTUALLY WIN IT.
But of course, it wasn’t meant to be. It was too little, too late and the A’s came up just short, as they are so good at doing. And Mark Ellis would go on to be the A’s starting second baseman for 10 seasons, until being supplanted by a kid from Florida who was 15 on the day Ellis hit that playoff home run.
I wish my big Mark Ellis home run memory had a better ending for the A’s. But, that’s kind of just how the A’s decade went.
So, bye, Mark Ellis. Good luck in Colorado. For us, it’s the Jemile Weeks era now. Here’s hoping for another 10 years with the same second baseman playing for the Oakland A’s.