Axford puzzled, delighted by Oscars blunder

A's film buff stopped watching before mix-up was revealed

Axford puzzled, delighted by Oscars blunder

MESA, Ariz. -- A's reliever John Axford was already the last customer in the restaurant, and had been for a while, by the time Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the Oscars stage to present Best Picture on Sunday evening.

"I was so engaged in my phone and watching the Oscars that when I finally looked around and noticed nobody else was in the restaurant, it was closed, and I was like, 'Oh, maybe I should not be here anymore,'" Axford said. "But they said, 'No, no, no, just watch the end of it, it's fine.'"

The A's pitcher and film buff obliged, then politely got out of his chair and put on his jacket in anticipation of exiting as soon as the final award had been revealed.

"Once [Beatty] kind of stumbled over it, I was like, 'Come on, just say it,'" Axford said. "They said 'La La Land' and I left the restaurant. I was thinking, 'Yay, 20-for-24, and boo, too bad 'Moonlight' didn't win."

Not until he landed home and saw a text from his agent did he learn of the snafu that sent the internet into a tizzy: "Moonlight" had, in fact, won.

"It didn't make any sense," Axford said. "I opened up my Twitter, and Twitter was just going crazy. I had people telling me, 'No, you went 19-for-24' and 'You should turn your TV back on."

Axford, who had been talking up "Moonlight" as his favorite film of the year leading up to the Academy Awards, was overjoyed about the mix-up -- never mind that his predictions took a hit.

"It's a sad and beautiful film," he said. "I chose to not pick it in hopes that it did win, because the last two years I've picked something that I've wanted to win and it didn't win, so this year I chose something that I didn't want to win in the hopes that the one I did want to win would win.

"Somehow, it both kind of worked out."

Axford's 19-for-24 showing is an improvement upon his 17-for-24 finishes the past two years, after he made headlines with a 18-for-18 ballot -- he excluded technical awards -- in 2014.

He was particularly happy to see Oakland native Mahershala Ali win Best Supporting Actor for "Moonlight," after Ali helped arrange a screening of the movie for A's players in Arizona. Ali threw out the first pitch at the Coliseum in August and will soon likely receive another invitation from the A's.

Tweeted Axford: "Hey @Athletics…when can we get Mahershala Ali out to the Coliseum to throw out the first pitch? Oscar in one hand, baseball in the other!"

A's president Dave Kaval quickly responded, "Great idea! We are on it."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.