Well the A's obviously aren't in them but quite a few A's fans probably can't seem to get away from playoff fever. I'm talking of course about the local buzz surrounding the National League neighbors of the Athletics, the 2010 NL West Champion San Francisco Giants. Although "playoff fever" is probably something the more bitter, envious, and spiteful A's fans would like to see turn into typhoid fever, it's undeniably an exciting time if your teams apart of it. And besides, any baseball is better than no baseball.
(The last play in A's postseason history from the 2006 ALCS is pictured above)
The seemingly inescapable talk about the 2010 MLB Postseason among Bay Area baseball fans is a direct result of the Giants success at the end of the regular season and through the playoffs so far. There are sure to be some A's fans who are genuinely mutual rooters of the Giants, and others who clench their teeth at the very thought of their success. What I might find hard to believe however, is that there are A's fans without an opinion on the matter-with the exception perhaps being those living outside of the region. Otherwise, your indifference can't be conditional, and the success of another team within the A's market cannot be ignored. The Giants were good this year, and their strong September play proved beneficial when the Padres decided October baseball wasn't for them.
As an A's fan, it's hard not to be a little jealous, especially since this is the first time since 1997 that the A's didn't make the playoffs while the Giants did. With that said, you can't hate someone for cheering on the team they grew up watching, and outside of the ballparks, I'm a fan of anyone wearing their team colors. It's also always good to see people who are fans of baseball in general. (This is a completely different conversation, but in a film-sport analogy, Michael Bay films are to football, as Stanley Kubrick's films are to baseball. That's a reference to both popularity and intellectual quality. Don't get me wrong, I've followed the NFL in the past as well as the NCAA in the more recent past, but I grew up in a Niners household and they're pretty much becoming the Royals of the NFL.) Growing up on the peninsula has forced me to accept that being an A's fan means I'm going to be in the minority, even within my own social circle. Personally, most of my close friends are very intelligent and loyal Giants fans. For them, I can be happy if the Giants succeed in the playoffs. Those I refuse to be happy for, and those I will insist on detesting, are the people who have just started following the Giants over the past eight weeks. I refuse to acknowledge these people as baseball fans, and if the Giants go on to win the 2010 World Series, it will make me sick to know that these people have the privilege of believing they were apart of something as special as a World Series. I understand that people like this are apart of almost every team to make a playoff run, but I'd feel the exact same way if it were the A's.
Another adverse effect this should have on the A's is from the media's standpoint. The Bay Area media practically refuses to acknowledge the very existence of the A's as it is. Even when the A's are good it seems as though they need to win twenty consecutive games, or have their starting pitcher throw a perfect game just to remind the local media that they reside in the same region. The amount of excessive discussion in 2011 alone that will come as a result of the Giants' postseason success is already a given. At this point it's merely a matter of how much bigger the already (and literally) "Giant" shadow hovering over A's will actually become.
Although some A's fans might say they refuse to root for a team whose owners allegedly want the A's "out" of the region, (a thought substantiated by the Giants attempt to "block" San Jose from the A's) there's little proof beyond speculation that Larry Baer and Bill Nuekom want the A's to depart from the region. While they obviously wouldn't have a problem with the A's moving elsewhere, it's important to note that Giants ownership said nothing about the Fremont development, or the A's excursions within their own territory. Thanks to a post on NewBallpark.org, it's theorized that Baer and Nuekom apparently made a deal with Jon Fisher in which the A's majority owner claimed he would not pursue any ballpark developments in San Jose. That information is something most A's fans following the topic have been left in the dark about, and it also makes the Giants ownership not seem so merciless. As businessmen, it's understandable why they'd like A's ownership to honor their agreement. From that same business aspect however, it would also be nice to see the Giants take a more marketable approach to the situation if the A's can't find a new home in the East Bay, especially since the A's are the ones who granted the Giants their rights to the South Bay (it was previously mutual territory) back when they were in danger of moving to St. Petersburg.
Just For Fun
And of course for the more jealous A's fans (and any other A's fans surrounded by victims of the playoff-fever epidemic), it's still consoling to point out that even if the Giants win it all this year, the A's still have more trophies in ten less years spent in the Bay Area.
Here are a few facts about the Bay Area MLB franchises and their history in the region-just to sooth the pain of envy
- As I mentioned earlier, this is the first time since 1997 the Giants have made the playoffs and the A's did not
- Since the A's moved to Oakland in 1968, the Giants have made the playoffs just 3 times in years the A's have not, including this year (1987, 1997, and 2010)
- The Giants have made the playoffs 8 times, including this year, since 1968
- The A's have made the playoffs 15 times since 1968
- The A's have won the World Series 4 times in 6 opportunities since moving to Oakland
- The Giants have not won a World Series in 3 opportunities since moving to San Francisco
While these facts are fun to acknowledge, and prove the A's have the historical edge, what matters right now is that the 2010 NL West Champion Giants are a win away from their 4th pennant since moving to the Bay Area, and the Athletics are watching it on television. We can all point to history as a means of relief, and the historical facts are certainly a legitimate assertion. But we desire relief in large part because we wish we could all be where they are right now.
Here's a playful prediction keeping with the theme of Bay Area baseball. Consider the following:
- As of right now, the Giants lead the NLCS 3-2 over the Phillies
- The last time the Giants led the NLCS 3-2 was in 1987 versus the St. Louis Cardinals (the Cardinals came back to win the sixth and seventh games)
- That same year, the A's finished 81-81 and failed the make the postseason
- The following year, 1988, was the first of three consecutive seasons in which the Athletics made the World Series (only winning it 89')
- This year, 2010, the A's also finished 81-81 and failed to make the playoffs
- The ONLY times in San Francisco Giants franchise history in which they led the NLCS 3-2 were in 1987 and this year, 2010
- The ONLY times in Oakland Athletics franchise history in which they finished 81-81 were in 1987 and this year, 2010
And the American League Side of it
Perhaps focus should be shifted off the Giants and over to the league the A's actually play in. Sure, a lot of people said the Rangers were going to win the West coming into the season. After the month of June it started looking like it would be difficult for them not to win it. But a lot of people also said they were going to get booted quickly from the postseason too. No team was as frustrated with Texas as the A's were, and A's fans probably share that same sentiment. Regardless of your feelings about it, the Rangers are going to the World Series. I rooted as hard as anyone possibly could have against the Rangers this past season, but it's hard to resent them when it was a miracle the A's were able to stave off elimination until a week left anyway. When you watch the final out, it's also hard not to be happy for Ron Washington. Not only that, it's also hard not to look twice when CJ Wilson lifts up Bengie Molina around the 1:17 mark. As much grief as I gave bandwagon fans earlier in the post, it's nice to see Texans give as much attention to the Rangers as they do the Cowboys. San Francisco's always been as good a baseball town as it is a football town, but the Rangers almost always take a backseat to the Cowboys (maybe not this year since they're 1-4).
(Rangers winning the American League Pennant pictured above)
The 2010 A's vs Who's Left
Seriously, with the Rangers winning the American League Pennant, and the Giants a win away from taking the NL Pennant, it's a tough call for A's fans on who to root for (or who to root against more). On one hand A's fans could root for the Giants and argue they're doing so because the Rangers were the only team standing between the A's and a division title. On the other hand, the Giants share the same market, and the media frenzy as a result of a trophy on the west side of the bay may quite possibly become the most irritatingly inescapable provocation to ever exist for an A's fan. Either way, if the Giants do indeed play the Rangers in the World Series, one things for certain-A's fans will not hear the end of it, no matter who wins.
How did the A's fair against the leftover playoff teams?
- They went 0-0 vs the Phillies
- They went 3-3 vs the Giants
o The A's took the first three at the Coliseum while the Giants took the last three at AT&T Park
o The A's and Giants both looked like different teams when the series switched venues. The A's were 1st in the West when they played host, and three weeks later they left San Francisco losers of 5 of their last 15, never to rise higher than 2nd in the standings for the remainder of the year
- They went 9-10 vs the Rangers
o This series was a close one, and was in the A’s favor for most of the year
o 10 of the 19 games were decided by 3 runs or less
o The A’s lost the final three games of the series, the second in which the Rangers clinched the division
Take what you want from this. This is an A's blog, so excuse the perceived biases. Go A's.