The A’s had to some parties a relatively successful season. Winning 96 games is no easy feat, especially in a competitive AL West. However, to other parties, some of which probably includes the players and coaching staff, it was a relatively disappointing season. Not winning the World Series when it was a legitimate goal is disappointing to say the least. A’s GM Billy Beane earlier in the season mentioned how unfair it was to play at most 19 games to determine a champion when you play 162 games to decide first place. So what really determines a champion? Someone who has the best record in the regular season or one who wins the World Series or as Beane calls it “the tournament”? Here are the two sides to that coin followed by my opinion.
The first side; the regular season success carries more weight than winning a championship. The A’s finished the season at 96-66, good for 3rd overall in MLB and 2nd in the American League. 96 wins in 162 games is a .593 winning percentage. If you compare that to the winning percentage of having to win in the playoffs (11 of 19) that comes out to .579 winning percentage, a .014 % difference. The win percentage difference is ridiculously small compared to the amount of games played (143 more games played in the regular season compared to the playoffs). That leads to the question how is it fair to determine a champion amongst the best teams in such a small amount of games?
The second side: championships determine success. When you got to stadiums across MLB and you look around what do you see? The obvious fans, vendors, etc., sure. If you’re in a winning town though, such as Oakland, you see some division championship flags and retired numbers, but above all else, Championship flags hanging high in the East Bay wind. Championships are the pinnacle of success in our sports world. When expectations are high, it’s Championship or bust. From the business side of things Championships are what make teams successful. The merchandise, media attention, nationally broadcasted games, and of course the memorabilia sales that come along with winning a Championship are bountiful.
As fans of course Championships are the end all. They are the deciding factor in any discussion sports related. It’s the reason San Francisco Giants fans got so excited when they finally won a Championship for the first time in 50 years in 2010. They finally rejoined a discussion that was going on without them since their days back in New York.
My opinion: I fully understand Billy Beane’s point when he says the playoffs is an unfair tournament compared to the length and grind of the regular season. And to a point I agree with him. I think the regular season should be smaller and the playoffs longer. However, Championships determine success in today’s sport society in fans eyes. With that being the case the decision is made for you. Fans drive the sporting world and therefore they determine what is a successful season. And fans want Championships.
To me the A’s had some success this season. However, I do not think it was a successful season. Anything less than a championship last season, the upcoming season, and the season after is a disappointment. You play to win championships, not just as many games as you can in the regular season. And that point I think Beane misses most.