Urban: Doubt the Oakland A’s all you want — this club is ready for the Bronx

Pay no mind to October history when it comes to the bullpenning upstarts

Mychael Urban
October 03, 2018 - 1:11 pm

There aren’t many people outside the Oakland sphere of influence giving the A’s much of a chance in their Wednesday wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

Why? Well, the fact that the Yankees lead the universe in home runs probably has something to do with it. And they’re at home. Bonus.

But let’s get real. Whether they will admit it or not, the reason many people don’t think Oakland has a snowball’s chance In the boogie-down Bronx is twofold.

The A’s have an incredibly spotty record in the postseason during the Billy Beane era.

Bullpenning.

RELATED: By giving the ball to Liam Hendriks, the A’s are putting their faith in Bob Melvin

That second reason might surprise you. Publicly, you mostly hear the A’s lauded as being creative — and even gutsy — for taking this still-novel approach into the postseason. They are pioneers in that way.

Good for them, many are saying. Privately, however, they’re getting a bit of a chuckle out of it.

“What are those plucky A’s missing this year? Oh, starting pitching? Really? Good luck to them.”

And that’s fine. We’ve all seen what kind of magic Bob Melvin can make with this Whole-Staff approach. It’s been a success for the most part, and we don’t really care if you’ve never heard of Liam Hendricks.

As far as pitching goes, there’s actually some confidence among the fan base.

The whole playoff history thing, though, is legit. Just as teams have to learn how to win close games, they need to learn how to win high-stakes games, too. And the A’s haven’t quite done that, have they?

They made it to the postseason every year from 2000 to 2003, and every year they got bounced in the first round. In 2006, they finally broke through... but got swept in the championship series.

They made it to the postseason every year from 2012-14, too, But each time they were bounced early, including an absolutely soul-crushing wild-card loss in Kansas City.

Take all that into consideration, and it makes sense that nobody is giving the A’s much of a chance.

RELATED: Damon — ‘I want a good night for The Nickel-Dime, you deserve one'

But did you give them much of a chance this spring? Did you see this clubhouse full of characters and brilliant backstory is making the noise they’ve made thus far?

Of course you didn’t. This is a team in the second year of a massive rebuild. But guess what? Sometimes plans run ahead of schedule, and that’s clearly the case here.

Besides, what’s more fun: Winning when you’re expected to win, as the Yankees are on Wednesday night? Or winning when people are looking at you with doubt and even a little scorn?

Clearly the latter is more fun. And if the A’s don’t get to enjoy that type of fun in the Bronx this year? Oh well. They’ve provided more than their share of fun this season, don’t you think?

So go get ‘em, Liam. Do your thing. These A’s are breaking new ground, so history is not applicable.

Yes, the Yankees have a lineup full of guys with 20 bombs or more. But they have some pitching problems of their own, and the A’s aren’t exactly a bunch of punch-and-Judy’s, either.

Outsiders can doubt the green and gold all they want. Those of us who have been paying attention all year know that these guys are pretty good at standing convention on its head.

May that continue in the boogie-down. We’ll deal with Fenway Park when we get there.

Comments ()