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Saturday 23rd Sep 2017

As I shuffled off to my car following the Athletics dramatic--and 15th this season--walk off win over Detroit Wednesday night I had already fashioned the bulk of a column that I had labled "Unf***ingbelievable."

It truly was just that: impossible to grasp, and well, I have written already, not once, or twice, but three times since late July about the wonder of the Athletics, and futhermore, if you read my meager words here and there, it suggests you might actually follow baseball, and if that is the case then you know the story anyway.

It is worth reiterating that Oakland is far and away the best story--and perhaps the most refreshing thing--to hit baseball in I don't know how long.

Furthermore, for the archivists, Oakland's final and improbable comeback from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth to prevail over the Tigers and push to a Game 5 of the ALDS was just another storybook finish from a storybook month that was part of a storybook year.

It did seem like it was too much to hope: that those feisty Athletics could pull their magic another time against the buzz saw that is Justin Verlander, but, well, it had happened so often this season--that the team was left for dead only to come tearing back to life--that who knew?

I will suggest that after the game, while those of us finishing our work in the booth were buzzing it was noted that for all practical purposes Oakland was dead in the water by the fifth inning on Wednesday.

"Yes," I acknowledged, "only they did not know this, nor did the Tigers. And, last week, the Rangers did not seem to know it either."

Still, as enjoyable as the establishment of the Nationals on the baseball playoff scene, along with the scruffy and tenacious Orioles who like Oakland came from nowhere, not to mention those Cardinals who found a way to the playoffs despite losing Albert Pujols to the Angels and Lance Berkman to injury, the Oakland story takes the cake.

Should you doubt this, name a star on the Cards (Chris Carpenter or Matt Holliday?). Name one on the Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman?). How about the Orioles (Adam Jones?).

Okay, now name one--just one--on the Athletics. Not a future star mind you, but a star right now. A guy you would spend $20 or more on for your fantasy team, that is. Right now, based upon past performance.

As for me, I am now rooting for a Giants/Yankees World Series. I could have been ok with the fun and young and exciting Nationals, but according to script, the equally dogged Cardinals once again came charging back from oblivion to grab the post-season perch opposite the Giants in the NLCS.

However, as I was watching the Athletics succumb to Mr. Verlander on Thursday evening, it was tough to focus. True, earlier those same Giants took care of the Reds who had been as much in the driver's seat as the Tigers, but the Yankees and the Orioles were still duking it out on TBS, while the NFL network was showing the Steelers and the Titans.

On all the news channels the somewhat crazy Ryan/Biden debate was in process, and then on came the Athletics, meaning on a Thursday evening, when "Chopped" reruns are usually the staple of the house during the off-season, there was an orgy of viewing possibilities on the tube.

 *     *     *     *

On Monday of this week I also managed to catch the iconic Patti Smith at the Fillmore Auditorium peforming with her band in support of her new disc, "Banga."

I have long been a Smith admirer, though I cannot claim to be any kind of groupie or devotee.

However, as an artist who pushes and blurs the edges of her art, Smith has some major respect from me not just for her vision, but for sticking with it.

I have read her book "Just Kids," in which she reviews pre-punk New York and the art and music circle along with her friendship with the late (and both good and controversial) photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

When tickets went on sale a month ago I told my friend, artist Deborah Gorman (if you have seen my album, Downward Facing Dog, Deborah did the painting "The Neighborhood" that graces the cover), also a Smith-o-phile and got us a pair.

And, I was not sure what to expect having never seen Smith live before.

Would she recite poetry? Would she play acoustic? Would she just play a full tilt rock and roll set with her band which included long-time associate Lenny Kaye?

Truth is it was indeed #3 and Patti and her mates burned through a couple of hours of new and old songs in a set that was tight and performance the displayed the singer/songwriter's mezmerizing presence.

She did her staples, and was even cute and funny and affable and political. Before launching into maybe her biggest hit, "Because the Night," Smith, affecting a sort of coy teenager with a crush personna, said she wanted to do a song she wrote for her boyfriend.

That boyfriend was Fred Sonic, her late husband and front man of the MC5, but the intro was both cute and made a statement, and showed some serious accessability for a performer that is often hard to peg.

I don't go to too many shows any longer. A lot of the reason is I just am not real happy about big crowds, but there are only a few artists I really want to see any longer, and Smith was one.

I can now cross her off my list. Although should she return, I will probably go back and see her again.

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