The best part about tonight’s NLCS game? Not just that the
Red Sox West Cubs lost, but also the fact that Jason Hammel got blowed up real good.
This is a local thing for me. Plenty of people around the East Bay have pointed with bitterness at last year’s Yoenis Cespedes trade as the moment when the Oakland A’s started to go downhill. There’s plenty of validity to that point of view. But if you were watching closely at the time, you know that Hammel deserves plenty of blame, too.
He arrived in Oakland in Jeff Samardzija’s wake, right at the moment when the Athletics were flying high, with the best record in the game and guys having All-Star seasons all over the field. And then Hammel went into the starting rotation, and seemingly every time he went out there, the A’s suffered a particularly nasty–if not crushing–loss. Hammel was almost single-handedly responsible for changing the vibe around that team, from rolling to struggling. And it all happened in some weird stealth mode, where Hammel came in and did a terrible job but didn’t seem to take a huge amount of flak for it.
Thus, it was immensely gratifying to see the Cubs send him out there, with their season struggling through its last gasps, and have him get lit up and exposed on the game’s biggest stage. There may not be crying in baseball, but there is schadenfreude.