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A Stats-Free Analysis
2004-09-07 13:21
by Ken Arneson

Last year, the A's went into Florida for three games in June. In the first game, the Marlins blasted Mark Mulder, 13-2. The A's managed to win the second game, but only after Florida had knocked Tim Hudson around first. In the third game, the A's couldn't touch Dontrelle Willis, and were shut out.

The A's weren't swept, but Florida made a statement. It seemed so bizarre, because the Marlins were under .500 at the time, but the impression I got out of that series was that Florida had kicked Oakland's butt, and they were clearly the better team.

So this year, I've been watching for that type of butt-whippin', where just watching the opposition it felt like the A's were clearly inferior. Where you know that even if you play well, you're still at a disadvantage. I got that feeling against two teams this year: the Cardinals and the Red Sox.

The Yankees have beaten the A's pretty good this year, too, but their wins felt more like a function of the A's playing poorly than the Yankees being superior. I feel like the A's can stay with the Yankees. Perhaps if the A's had played well and still lost, I'd be more impressed with the Bronx Bombers.

Last night, the A's and Red Sox played a great, tense ballgame. Then the third base umpire made a horrible call in the eighth inning, ruling Manny Ramirez had caught a ball he clearly trapped, and the A's were toast. One break went against them, and the A's fell apart. The Red Sox got their break, and they stomped all over Oakland with a kind of killer instinct I've never, ever seen in the Red Sox before. A close game ended up 8-3.

Color me impressed. Traditionally, Boston falls apart at the slightest provocation. This post-Nomar team is different. I think this is their year, and the only thing that can stop them is Albert Pujols, star of the equally impressive Cardinals, shooting bullets through the Green Monster. Either that, or some weird ghost showing up.

I'd love to see the A's win it all, but if justice is served, we'll see St. Louis and Boston face off in the World Series this year.

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