Do they look afraid? (Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE)

The 6 Most Important A's Games in Almost 6 Years

It has been a rough life for everyone who has anything to do with the A’s since that Magglio Ordonez home run sailed out of Comerica Park, ending the A’s 2006 season in heartbreaking fashion.  Since then, the A’s have seen players come and go, blockbuster trades brought in new blood, that new blood sent away in the next generation of blockbuster deals and so on.  The overlapping theme throughout has been losing.  Other than the 2010 season where the A’s finished at .500 with an 81-81 record, there hasn’t been much in the way of success in Oakland.  Arguably the biggest success story for the franchise since 2006 has been a movie made about the 2002 season and based on a stats book.  Not exactly the best way to inspire confidence in a fan base.

That fan base has taken a beating as well, Lew Wolff has clung to his supposed financial constraints as justification for the constant roster turnover, the stadium situation has sat in limbo for more than 3 years, and the future of the franchise itself has been in doubt.  As a result the attendance rates have plummeted, as any fans of a rival team will be quick to point out during any trash talking session.  It’s not easy to be an A’s fan, with little to brag about it’s understandable that perhaps only the true die hards remain.

The 2012 A’s have given us all some hope, something to cheer for, and this upcoming home stand against the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees will set the course for the rest of this season.  The A’s have won 9 of their last 10 games, have reached a high watermark of 3 games over .500 that they haven’t seen since 2010, and most importantly find themselves just a mere 1/2 game out of a spot in the playoffs.

The team has it’s many doubters across the baseball universe, but they do not seem to care one bit about them.  Perhaps it speaks to the character of the roster, or perhaps they’re just to young and dumb to know any better.  The A’s are playing like a unit right now, and they’ll need to stick together in order to come out the other side of this week in good shape.

The Texas Rangers are an all too familiar juggernaut in the AL West, they’ve taken a stranglehold on the division for the last 2 1/2 seasons, but the A’s have proven they can hang with them.  The last time they met the Rangers took 3 out of 4 in Arlington, but the last time they tangled in Oakland it was the Athletics who took 3 of 4.  Coming into this series they are 5-5 against each other, no clear advantage has been declared between the two teams.  The Rangers in all likelihood will maintain their division lead regardless of the result of these two games, even if the A’s were to sweep the series they would still be 6 games behind them.  But the A’s can make a statement that their recent success isn’t just a hot streak.

The major hurdle of the week will come wearing pinstripes, the New York Yankees who have already swept the A’s in Oakland this year come back for a huge 4 game series.  To say the Yankees have owned the A’s in recent memory is an understatement, and it many instances it appears to be in the A’s heads.  This team as we see it now is not the same team we saw back in May, the A’s do not fear anyone now.

As the A’s take the field tomorrow against the Rangers and Roy Oswalt, they need to strike early, strike hard, and strike fast.  This week is about announcing their presence as a team in contention, a team to pay attention to.  If they can go 4-2 on this home stand, they should be able to accomplish that.  But I say why stop there, go 5-1, sweep them both out of Oakland!  I for one have seen enough of the A’s being walked all over, and it’s time to show everyone in baseball what “Green Collar Baseball” is really all about.  That’s why these 6 games are the most important we’ve seen since 2006.

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Tags: Oakland Athletics