This year is nothing like 2004--not even close.
Any comparison is pointless, mostly because the A's are such a radically different team.
But I thought it would be worthwhile to point out that the A's collapse that year revealed that they were in fact a pretty bad team. Beane saw this and, god bless him, acted.
How bad were the "September, 2004 Oakland A's"? We all, of course, can point at Mulder and Mecir and Hatteberg, but truly it was a team-wide failure.
Consider these numbers:
*In their last 26 meaningful games that season the A's went 9-17.
*7 of those 9 wins were by one run.
*The A's were outscored by an amazing 57 runs during that stretch: 153-96.
They were truly awful, one of the worst teams in baseball by season's end.
This year, of course, the A's aren't anything like that. All signs indicate that they will be a very good team all through Septembrer. Every single aspect of this team--starters, bullpen, offense, and defense--is better than the 2004 squad.
When I look back at that September, I always think to myself that being so very awful actually saved the team. It led Beane to act. And the team we have right now is, in part, a result of those actions.
That horrible month was very likely the best thing that could have happened to the organization.