Update: July 21, 2015 9:15 pm PT
Well, Josh Donaldson‘s homecoming went as planned. The All-Star third baseman returned to Oakland for the first time since being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He received a rousing standing ovation from the crowd when he made his way to the plate in the top of the first inning. A fan favorite, he has not been forgotten in Oakland.
And Donaldson felt the same way as the fans. He was happy to return to the fans who cheered him on during his first three big league seasons and his emergence as one of the best players in the game today. He was happy to see O.Co Coliseum saying,
“My heart started fluttering a little bit seeing this place, I really have nothing but fond memories of being here.”
The fans have fond memories too but quieted down as the Blue Jays took the lead on a couple of homers off of starter Kendall Graveman, who was part of the Donaldson trade. Donaldson did end up with an RBI double in the seventh but the fans stayed classy. They rooted for Josh and wished him well but they stayed true to their team, sticking to rooting for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back.
Original Text: July 21, 2015 1:15 pm PT
It is interesting how everyone has their own way of handling big news. To say that the Oakland A’s trading Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays was bombshell news to the baseball world and to say that it absolutely rocked the East Bay Area would be an understatement.
I’m not entirely sure the people on the west side of the Bay Area even blinked but to the residents of the East Bay Area, it was like a giant aftershock, not quite as big as 2014’s version of Loma Prieta but what many refer as simply “The Trade” (dun, dun, dun). When A’s GM Billy Beane traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sock a year ago – that was the Loma Prieta and Donaldson was the first and biggest of its aftershocks.
However, this is not another piece about whether ANY trade is, was or will ever be good. I really do not want to see a debate in the comments about this or any other trade and the quality of it. This is about the people impacted by the trade, how they’ve all handled it and how they will and should handle it Tuesday night when Donaldson comes to the plate in the top of the first inning. That is what this story is really about.
Back to the beginning, Cespedes was first, and after that it was a free for all. Beane cleaned house, starting with Donaldson. There were rumors of a disagreement but all I’ve ever heard is speculation. Donaldson described his reaction as a mixture of both shock and understanding, no anger or animosity, but maybe a little bit of disappointment.
“I wouldn’t say I was hurt, because I understand that baseball is a business, but I was shocked.”
Right-fielder Josh Reddick called it a “big hit” and catcher Stephen Vogt said it was more of a “whoa!” but the one thing that everyone actually involved or affected by the trade seems to agree on is that, this is baseball. Baseball is a business. They can be friends and even wish each other well, just not too well. As Vogt put it,
“J.D. is a great hitter and he has had a great time in Toronto. I’m happy he’s playing well. I hope to see him not put on a show, though.”
Fans’ reactions were much worse. Some fans despair is still to the extent that the debates surround Beanes’ 2014 trades will never end. Some people were and still are angry. Others were “breaking down at work,” yes, I saw this in an A’s forum on Facebook, and many were doing better until the 2015 season didn’t work out as planned. Then more anger began to settle right back in. The fact is that Billy Beane built the fans a good team and it’s been an unlucky year. Keeping the same players as last season would not have been the answer but that is just my opinion.
So we’ve established that the players, their families, coaches and managers accept the fact that the majority of these transactions are just business, they wish the other well and go about their lives. The fans dwell in the despair caused by their loss which while, ok, is a little extreme.
Personally as a fan, albeit a seasoned one, I have more of a rational mentality. Now, I was not always that way but it shows where experience will hopefully take you. You don’t want to be that person falling apart in tears at work because a player got traded do you? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Here’s how I’m going to handle the return of the Bringer of Rain. Will I be happy to see JD back at the hot corner at the Coliseum? Sure. Will I take a picture or two from my spot behind the bullpen? Probably. Do I want to see him put on an offensive show? (*tires screeching) Oh. Hell. No.
The A’s still need to win. Period. Donaldson is ranked in the top five among American League players in almost every statistical category. He’s batting .288 with 22 homers, 62 RBI, 193 total bases and a .530 slugging percentage. His WAR ranks fourth in the Majors among position players. He’s not someone you want putting on a show at the expense of your own team, no matter how big of a fan you were or still are. Like the players, we should all root for the name on the front of the jersey, not just on the backs.
Will some players will become more special to you than others or maybe their a friend, then root for them and their new team by all means, but never when they are playing your team. I hope to see Donaldson jerseys at the game, I hope he receives a warm reception and I will be happy to see him but not to a fault. I will always root for the name on the front and not the back of the jersey when forced to make a choice. What do you do?