Urban: A's-Angels Gripping Despite Standings

Urban: A's-Angels Gripping Despite Standings
September 28, 2010, 7:42 pm
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Sept. 28, 2010
A'S PAGE A'S VIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

For muchof the previous decade, the American League West was all about the As and theAngels. One or the other -- frequently both -- owned the division, and when thetwo teams got together it was a virtual lock that compelling baseball wouldfollow.Now itsa new decade, and 2010 is the Year of the Rangers in the AL West -- a testamentto the vision of team president Nolan Ryan and the salt-of-the-earth approachof manager Ron Washington. But when it comes to the As and the Angels lockinghorns, nothing has changed.Granted,Oaklands Justin James walking some guy named Hank Conger with the basesloaded, as happened in Anaheim on Monday night, is a far cry from Tim Hudsonstaring down Tim Salmon in September 2002.Yet thefinal score of 6-5 was reminiscent of great battles past, and despite what thecurrent standings suggest, both teams have every reason to play with the samepassion and intensity thats marked the rivalry for years.PriorityNo. 1 for the As, who have dropped their past four games, is getting to .500or better. Theyhavent been there since 2006, the most recent year of glory in Oakland and theyear before current skipper Bob Geren took over. Theyre two games underentering Tuesdays game, which pits Dallas Braden vs. Dan Haren, who was a bigpart of that 2006 As team that reached the AL Championship Series.Oaklandneeds to go 4-2 from here on out to give Geren his first break-even-or-betterseason, so expect him to manage as though each contest is Game 7 of the WorldSeries.Also atstake, for both teams, is second place in the division. As of Tuesday morning,the As were a game up on the Angels in the bridesmaid raceWhatsthe big deal there? Money. Thats right. Theres cash at stake here. Thesecond-place team in each division gets a little extra glue, and dont thinkthats not a motivator. So dontwrite this series off as a couple of also-rans playing out the string. Theyreplaying for more than it appears, and theyll be playing as hard as ever.What's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.