A's postseason begins now

A's postseason begins now
July 16, 2012, 4:51 pm
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This is the stretch youve all been waiting for, for six years running now -- two with Texas, four with New York, three at Toronto, three at Baltimore.Frankly, if you say it enough times, it becomes its own mantra. Two with Texas, four with New York, three at Toronto, three at Baltimore.These are the 12 most important games the As have scheduled since that shambolic Saturday in 2006 when Huston Street grooved one to Magglio Ordonez for the walk-off three-run homer that advanced Detroit to the World Series and the Oaklands into an abyss. One that started after that game, when manager Ken Macha fumed one more time about Billy Beane and Beane fumed back with a dismissal notice.It was the end of a stretch of good baseball in Oakland under what people would call the Moneyball Era and the beginning of five years of dull, tedious, slow-witted impermanent treacle. Some will call it the Bob Geren Era, but thats the lazy way out. It was an organization-wide malaise, made worse by the energyless pining for a stadium they seem to want handed to them by people who dont care whether they get anything at all.And now, twelve days two with Texas, four with New York, three at Toronto, three at Baltimore. Twelve days for Beane to decide if this cohesive and entertaining group of players is skilled enough to hold together for the 61 games after that.
They are 46-43, tied for sixth with Detroit and Tampa Bay, a half-game behind the faltering Orioles for the second wild-card spot and three behind the second-place well, fourth-place Angels for the purposes of this discussion.But since 11 of the 14 teams in the American League are over .500, that doesnt mean as much as it might. And since they are only a game out of 11th as well, you can see how these next 12 games will matter greatly.RELATED: MLB standings
They will influence whether Beane is enamored enough of his seat-of-the-pants creation to hold it together for a stretch run that might not come or turn it into another bazaar for the worthies, sending Coco Crisp here, and Bartolo Colon there, and Johnny Gomes and Seth Smith and Brandon McCarthy other places for a haul of prospects, most of whom tend to disappear or get turned into other prospects down the road.It is a system that has been rejected both by the standings and by the fan base, so the easy answer is for Beane to say, loudly and proudly, Screw it, these are our guys now and for down the road. Heres where we make our stand. A bold flag to plant for 2012, 13 and for as long as John Fisher can maintain his interest.But it isnt the answer that always endures, and if the As cant hold serve or better in the TWTFWNYTATTAB section of the schedule, they may recede from view and start putting players out on the front lawn as they have before.This has always been the most important moment for this team, going back to March, when it was easier to dismiss them as a 95-loss team. This moment would define them and their future.Well, theyll have to go 21-52 from here on to lose those 95, and the only way they do that is if they go in the tank right now and then dig from there. And frankly, if they were going to go from a .517 team to a .288 team, there would be no time for transition. Theyd have to start being awful now.Well, that seems unlikely to the point of absurd now. They hit too many homers, even in the absence of the hologram that was Manny Ramirez. They pitch too many scoreless innings. They run better, take extra bases better, catch the ball better. They are in many ways a bolder and more confident team, and as such have improved mightily over the last year.So this is the start of their postseason two with Texas, four with New York, three at Toronto, three at Baltimore. The twelve days of what might either be Christmas, or just twelve days closer to their annual Back Up The Truck-mas. Theyve earned the right to remain a team, but now they have to earn the right to convince Billy Beane theyve earned the right.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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