OAKLAND — Certain life mysteries are impossible to explain. Like what's on the other side of the universe? How does the Holy Trinity work? Why is New York pizza so much better than the California stuff?
But the biggest life mystery of all concerns the Oakland A's. Why is this team, a group with no superstar, a bargain bunch without the best players in the majors, running away from the AL West? And why, in short, are the A's one of the elite outfits in baseball?
You got me.
It's not like they can hit. Lately, Josh Donaldson is pathetic — he struck out three times in Sunday's 10-6 win over the fallen Los Angeles Angels, and he hasn't gotten a base hit since the medieval period.
And Josh Reddick has been beyond pathetic.
And the pitching is good but not always great. Starter Jarrod Parker gave up five runs in the first two innings and that meant the A's started the day spotting the Angels a five-run lead, an unusual strategy.
But the A's overcame the Angels, chased them down, broke their spirit. You could see it happen, the Angels' outfielders losing balls in the sun, the outfielders rolling on the grass, the outfielders running into each other like junk cars in a demolition derby.
The A's were a half game behind the then division-leading Texas Rangers on July 2, and now they are six up on the Rangers. They are a gargantuan 19 games over .500.
Sure, you could give reasons. The A's are scrappy — whatever "scrappy" means. They are confident and confidence is always good. And if you want to be technical about things, they draw walks and make pitchers work.
That all sounds so bland, so vague. In the interest of clarity — if clarity is possible — let's turn to manager Bob Melvin and hear what he said in his postgame news conference: "I didn't for one minute think that we were down 5-0 and we were not going to come back and do something. It's tough to come back from a five-run lead, but these guys are pretty relentless. I, at least, expected some kind of a push. I got more than you could ever hope for."
OK, the A's are relentless. Relentless helps.
Melvin and I spoke in the hall outside his office.
Cohn: "You don't have the best players. You have very good players, I'm not putting them down. But you have a hell of a team."
Melvin: "That's the operative word."
Cohn: "What does team mean to you?"
Melvin: "Nobody feels like they have to be The Guy. And no one's afraid to pass the baton on to the next guy. We've put that feeling together since the All-Star break from last year. And it remains and it's part of who we are, and there's nobody here that feels he has to be The Guy."
Cohn: "Some guys at other teams play every single day. The catcher at the Giants mostly plays every single day. Guys here would like to play every day but respect and appreciate being in and out of the lineup."
Melvin: "They all want to be everyday players. But they understand the roles they are in. If you communicate that to them some guys might not like it, but they understand and they know how to prepare for that role. That's what we have is a bunch of those guys here. Now, (Jed) Lowrie plays every day, (Josh) Donaldson plays every day, Coco (Crisp) plays every day, (Yoenis) Cespedes plays every day and (Josh) Reddick. It's the other four spots we mix and match."
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