It's the last game of the season and the excitement level feels higher than the playoffs and Christmas combined. Not only are the A's playing a meaningful game, but that meaningful game is a winner-take-all contest in which the A's are playing for the Division Crown, the rights to the West, and the chance to play a "real" playoff series without a play-in game.
Do the stakes get higher than this? And was there ever any reason to doubt that the 2012 magical season would end with game 162, a winner-take-all affair that could propel the A's to the top spot in the AL West, and possibly the top spot overall? You get one magical season if you are lucky in your lifetime, and this is definitely ours. I will never feel cheated in the playoffs, because this last month of baseball has been the playoffs to me. Every game has counted, we've lived and died with every pitch, and here, on Wednesday afternoon, October 3rd, 2012, the A's have the privilege of playing a one-game playoff for all of the glory.
I'll quote from MLB.com's summary today, because this line is awesome:
The Oakland A's were nothing but an afterthought on June 30. Coming off a 7-2 loss to the first-place Rangers, they had just dropped to 13 games back in the American League West and five games below .500.
Boy, does that seem like ancient history right about now.
The A's are rolling right now, running on a 5-game winning streak, selling out their stadium today, and if the crowd could be possibly louder than last night's, I can't imagine it. Meanwhile, the Rangers are probably living a bad dream. They had the AL West Crown in hand for so long; it seemed like an inevitability that one day, they would run out the season, and win by default. But the A's--so fraught with setbacks, and young players, and injuries, and tough losses--have managed to put it all together into one last, glorious run at the Division title, and it has all come down to one. single. game.
Today's game will be started by A.J. Griffin, who has been terrific for the A's for the last few months. Quite honestly, I don't know who can pitch in the 'pen; it seems as if every reliever has pitched 20 games in a row. But it was concluded at my party last night that Balfour would warm himself up if he wasn't called upon to pitch; everyone is so into this game, that they would take any role to be part of a victory.
The A's lineup will be facing Ryan Dempster, who has been very good recently. Here's hoping the A's can collect some runs using this crew:
Wherever you are--at work, at home, in the car, at the Coliseum--let's do this loud and proud:
LET'S GO OAK-LAND!