With all due respect to the myriad talents and myths associated with Coco Crisp, if the hot adage being tossed around in many A’s circles is true, Oakland’s chances of winning a third consecutive American League West title are equal to the chances of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West lasting longer in holy matrimony than Rush’s 2112.
Here’s the adage: As Coco goes, so go the A’s.
Here’s what’s wrong with it: Pretty much everything.
First and foremost, the adage is an insult to the rest of the roster, to manager Bob Melvin and his coaching staff, and to Billy Beane and his army of genius sweaters with zip-up collars.
It’s a very nice compliment to Covelli, of course, and it pays a somewhat appropriate level of homage to his considerable influence on the field and in the clubhouse. He’s a sparkplug in several ways, no question about it.
But sparkplugs are fairly easily replaceable, and if you’ve got a sweet ride to begin with, it’ll hum right along without the original plugs. If you’ve got a beater, on the other hand, even top-shelf sparkplugs aren’t going to keep you on the road to glory for long.
This isn’t to say Crisp is easily replaceable. He’s a special player, capable of taking over a game in a number of ways. He is not, however, capable of carrying a team for a month. And that takes us back to why the “As Coco goes …” adage is an insult.
The A’s don’t need anyone to carry them. They have depth, versatility and legitimate talent across the board. Not mind-blowing talent, mind you. (OK, Yoenis Cespedes is a mind-blowing talent.) But there’s a lot of just-short-of-superstar talent among the young core of the team, and what is Coco? He’s an older version of those guys, a just-short-of-superstar talent.
To suggest that the young guns, complemented by a cadre of cagey, veteran gamers who represent something of a sea change in Beane’s thinking over the past several years, aren’t capable of overcoming even a lengthy loss of everything Crisp does? People suggested that Genesis was done when Peter Gabriel left, too.
Enough stoner rock references for you? Fine. Just know this: The A’s would obviously rather not have to do it, but they can survive and thrive without their sparkplug.
They have the sweet ride.