Nobody said it would be easy, even if the 2012 Oakland Athletics weren’t being overrun by rookies it was going to be a rocky path to the promise land. But as we embark on the final days of the regular season, the A’s at the moment are still standing and in possession of a spot in the playoffs. It has been a rocky ride thus far, and there has been no indication that things are going to settle down until the bitter end. The A’s knew going into the month of September that they were going to run the gauntlet of the American League, and if they would be able to emerge from that with their playoff hopes intact, they’d be in a good position. Well, now here we stand as the A’s have played their final regular season road game, and are heading back to Oakland for the final 6 games of the 2012 schedule.
There are 8 teams with a shot at the 5 playoff spots, the A’s being one of them obviously. The A’s had series with 5 of those teams in the month of September, 2 with the Angels, 1 so far with the Rangers with 1 to go, and they hosted the Orioles, and visted the Tigers and Yankees. The only contending teams left the A’s didn’t see this month are the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. At this point in time the A’s are 14-11 this month, a more than respectable record considering the tough teams they’ve been playing.
The A’s also endured a nomadic schedule, playing 17 of 20 games on the road, only stopping in Oakland for a brief time to play the Baltimore Orioles. In essence they have been on a road trip for the last 3 weeks solid, not staying in a given city for more than 4 days. Through that tour of the United States, the A’s finished 12-8, and the only non contending team they played during that stretch was the Seattle Mariners, who they swept in Seattle.
Much has been made about when this team was going to fade, and that horrific stretch of travel was pegged as the deathblow for this team’s hopes of snagging a playoff berth. There were some ugly games, some major missteps no doubt, but they managed to grab wins then they needed them to keep this trip from being an all out disaster.
While all of us watching these games has gone through the extreme ups and downs along with the team, they’ve been essentially playing playoff baseball for a couple weeks. Many expected that the big stage, high pressure games, and a playoff atmosphere would swallow up these guys who’ve never played in games like these. In some cases the stage did seem to rattle the A’s, but now they’ve seen what it’s like and they’ll be that much more prepared for the biggest stages if and when they come up.
As Andrew Brown nicely outlined, the A’s have two final and critical series to play, and the benefit of their success thus far is that they control their own destiny. This has been a team constantly dealing with adversity, and they’ve proven they can fight through anything.