The A’s are back! Just like their last run in 2012, 2013, and 2014, this one came out of nowhere. Although they have 92 wins, so far, the A’s are still considered a long shot to get past the Red Sox or Astros in the playoffs. They may be a longshot but I don’t think they’re going to be a comfortable matchup for any team that they meet.
Since moving to Oakland in 1968, the A’s have had five stand-out eras:
The Dick Williams/Alvin Dark Era; Pitching, Speed, & Reggie
The Tony La Russa Era; Pitching and the Bash Brothers
The Art Howe/Macha Era; The Three Aces, Tejada, Giambi, & Money Ball
The Bob Melvin Era 1; Pitching, “I believe in Stephen Vogt”
The Bob Melvin Era 2; Power, Power, & More Power
That team of unknowns that came to Oakland in 1968, took the East Bay by storm as they won their first of five consecutive Western Division Championships in 1971 and their first of three World Series Championships in 1972. This was a team, particularly the 1972 team that exceeded expectations. While we all knew they were good in ’72, taking down THE BIG RED MACHINE was completely unexpected. Particularly after they lost Reggie to a torn hamstring in Game 5 of the League Championship Series in Detroit. We also almost had a Draymond Green moment when Campy Campanaris threw his bat at Lerrin Lagrow in Game two of the ALCS. Fortunately he was suspended in the first few games of the ’73 season rather than the World Series.
Carried by Gene Tenace and a great pitching staff, The Swinging A’s shocked the world by winning the series in seven games. In ’73, they took down the Tom Seaver Mets and in ’74, when Alvin Dark took over they beat the Dodgers who were becoming one of the best teams in baseball.
As much as the Williams/Dark teams exceeded expectations, the La Russa A’s left us wondering what might have been. It could be argued that the Tony La Russa teams were the most talented A’s team ever. Top to bottom, McGwire, Parker, Hendu, Canseco, Stewart, Steve Howe, Eckersley, and then Ricky re-joining the A’s in 1989 were amazing. This is a team that should have matched the three championships that the A’s won in the ‘70s. In 1988, the A’s bats went anemic after Kirk Gibson hit the home run and cold bats cost the A’s the 1990 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The earthquake also took some shine off of the championship they won against the Giants.
The Howe/Macha “Money Ball” A’s had characters like the Swinging A’s of the ‘70s. They took pride in winning a lot of regular season games and having a club house that was more like a frat house. Good enough to make the American League Divisional Series four years in a row but not good enough to deliver the knock-out punch in any series. The finally got past the Twins in 2006 but were beat by the Tigers in the League Championship Series.
In 2012, the A’s snuck up on us and beat Texas in game 162, the greatest regular season game that I ever attended. That group had their chances against Detroit in ’12 & ’13 but couldn’t get past Justin Verlander and Max Sherzer. In ’14, while they were running away with the Western Division, Billy Beane went mad scientist and traded Yoenis Cespedes and others. As team chemistry fell apart, they A’s squeaked into the one game playoff which they lost against Kansas City.
This year, they snuck up on us again! With starting pitching decimated with injuries, they still have a shot at winning 100 games. The one game playoff with the Yankees is intriguing because I think the A’s have as good a chance winning in New York as they do in Oakland. With their power, they can go crazy in Yankee Stadium and it would also be fun to have the game in Oakland with drummers in right field. Winning in New York would be good because they wouldn’t have much travel to do to get to Boston for the ALDS. YES, WHETHER THE GAME IS IN NEW YORK OR OAKLAND, I THINK THE A’S WILL BEAT THE YANKEES. That said, are any of this year’s play-off teams excited to play the A’s? While they won’t be favored in any series they’re involved in they’re the scariest team out there.
Don’t count out a parade in Oakland during the first week of November.