PHOENIX -- What do the Oakland Athletics do for an encore? Actually, that may be the wrong question. Is an encore even possible for a team that rode waves of youth and energy into the playoffs in a 2012 season in which so little was expected of them? Can anything these players do in their careers be as much fun as that wild ride in which a team picked to finish last climbed atop the American League West for the first time by winning the 162nd game of the regular season?
It was a season of shaving-cream pies and bear hugs and believing in one another when almost no one else gave them a second thought. Somewhere hidden amid their success, the A's reminded all of us about the importance of teamwork and relentless effort and shutting out the noise.
"It was a blast," outfielder Josh Reddick said. "It's the most fun I've had in baseball. What we did that last week was unbelievable. It was a very exciting moment to be part of."
There are similar feelings in every corner of the A's spring clubhouse, a determination to do it all again, but also a pride in having already accomplished something almost no one on the outside thought possible. On the first day of Spring Training last year, manager Bob Melvin told his team that they simply wouldn't accept losing and that they had to sweat the small stuff and remain resilient through the tough times.