By Connor Buestad
Live by the juice, die by the juice. Or so they say.
Jason Giambi’s swan song by the Bay wasn’t supposed to end like this. With the likes of Matt Holliday, Orlando Cabrera and Nomah Garciaparra all converging in Oakland-Alameda County for the 2009 season, the A’s certainly had the horses to make a serious playoff push. My, how things have changed. Holliday and Cabrera have both been sold off to contenders and the A’s find themselves in the cellar of the AL West, 17 games off the pace.
Checking my Twitter account Friday morning, I was informed from a reputable colleague of mine (kpluswax) that Mr. Giambi had been handed his walking papers. Apparently A’s brass finally had enough of Giambi’s faulty right quad and astronomically low .193 batting average. He is now left to hobble into the sunset, a-la Crash Davis, leaving a trail of memories behind.
Jason joined the A’s in 1997. His job was to take the place of Mark McGwire, a living legend at the time. The A’s were basically a joke back then and it is thanks in large part to Giambi that things started to turn around. It wasn’t long before Giambi was doubling as a loyal BALCO customer and a larger than life slugger. In the year 2000, Jason used a steady diet of In-N-Out 4 by 4’s to help him win MLB’s ultimate individual honor, the Most Valuable Player award.
Boy was it great to be an A’s fan at the turn of the millennium. Hudson, Mulder, and Zito dealt on a nightly basis, Miggie was the man at short, and you could get a ticket to watch playoff caliber baseball for less than a McDonalds Sweet Tea. With Giambi in the middle of the lineup, Oakland made back to back trips to the playoffs in ’00 and ’01. Unfortunately, the A’s were unable to get past the Yankees either year. Of course it didn’t help that Jason’s kid brother Jeremy forgot the first rule of little league: SLIDE at home plate!
That following offseason, George Steinbrenner came calling with his finest meats and cheeses ($120 Million worth) and Jason took the bait. Giambi’s seven years in Gotham can most easily be described as, well, tumultuous. Despite putting up some good numbers, it never seemed as though Jason regained his MVP form. While Barry Bonds thrived on steroid controversy, Giambi withered under it.
Nonetheless, when word got out that the Giambino was coming back to Oakland in ’09, I was elated. Similar to Rick Vaughn in “Major League 2”, I figured he’d eventually get his old haircut back and start dominating again. Apparently, this was just wishful thinking.
So Jason. It’s been real. A bit steroid enhanced, but real. “Jason Giambi Bobblehead Night” on August 21st just won’t be the same without you, dude.