A's-Yankees a dream matchup for Wild Card play-in game


A's-Yankees a dream matchup for Wild Card play-in game

Our festival of postseason conclusion-jumping continues today with this disturbing thought: The As, as of this moment, lined up to face in a one-game, winner-take-all-loser-takes-tee-times showdown at the Coliseum with . . .

. . . wait for it . . .

. . . the New York Yankees.

Thats right, the team that devalued the As teams of a decade and change ago. The team that got Derek Jetered in 2001. The team that caused Billy Beane to have his famous, If I had 50 million more . . . post-playoff speech. The team that most starkly defined the As via payroll disparity, and jump-started Beanes cinematic philosophies.

Of course, this all comes with the standard its-way-too-early caveat. The Fightin McCarthys trail Texas by three games, and lead the Yankees and Orioles by two and Rays by five. Nothing is settled, nothing is revealed.

RELATED: MLB standings

But imagine it anyway. A sunny day at the ballpark, 28,837 cheering away, watching A.J. Griffin dueling David Phelps. History, backstory, pies vs. pressure punching both teams in the face. Why, it makes you all nostalgic inside.

Except that it actually doesnt when you think about it. The As only got pipped by the Yankees twice, in 2000 and 2001. The Jeter play is extraordinarily movie-friendly and all, but the As have more playoff history with Minnesota and Boston, and the Twins and Sawx are getting into the playoffs only if you look at the standings while hanging from a door jamb in gravity boots.

But the alternatives to the Yankees are Baltimore and Tampa, which are closer to the As in self-imposed fiscal limits. The As have never played Tampa in a meaningful game, and Baltimore lost to the As in the '73 and '74 playoffs when only equipment manager Steve Vucinich roamed the earth.

And to be fair, the Angels are still a distant fourth option, but losing Games 1, 2 and 3 of this series dont exactly make you want to crave their chances.

No, the vortex of manufactured memories demands that this end up being the angst-riddled Yankees and their omnipresent entourage, and the Fightin McCarthys mocking the odds with a smile, a swollen face and a Twitter account that glows in the dark.

In fact, you wont get a better metaphor for the FMCs in 2012 than their namesake, the pitcher who got his face broken by Erick Aybar, had life- and career-threatening brain surgery, and for all we know will be throwing on the side in two weeks in hopes of being a middle-relief fill-in in that Yankee game that we still dont know will happen.

But lets be honest, it should.

An Orioles-As game will be fine -- hell, both teams would sell body parts to be back within a game of the postseason. Rays-As would be grand entertainment, too. Angels-As, even, although weve seen plenty of that already.

But for full drooling East Coast bias-ish effect, for full national notice, for financial comparison points, for all the things that the As have not been in the last six years (interesting), this would be the dream matchup. Especially if we can keep management from turning it into a nine-inning whine-o-mercial for San Jose stadium action from the other 29 owners.

That would be intolerable, and sufficient in my mind to invalidate the move south on its face. You never use a potentially magical moment for shameless huckstering unless you want to look like a shameless huckster.

But we have faith that even they will understand the magnitude of such a moment. The New York Yankees and the Oakland Fightin McCarthys. This can be filed under Oh what the hell, lets do it just for kicks.

But first, lets play those 20 other games that could sink one, or both teams. And remember to be as thankful for what you already have as for what youre hoping to get.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.