Every now and again, I check out Halos Heaven just to check out the pulse and become irritated. I don't know if it's just an "L.A. attitude"--you know, that "I'm always on the go, I'm currently jogging and talking on my cell phone while I exercise my Poodle before having a light lunch of half a lettuce leaf which I'll force myself to throw up immediately after" attitude--but recently the prevailing mind-set among Angels fans has irritated me. Not because it's snooty, but because it's completely inaccurate.
The popular refrain appears to be, "Don't worry, the A's will do their usual September fade..." First of all, if the tables were turned and the A's were 5.5 games out, I'd be plenty worried. Optimistic, perhaps, but I can do the Math and if my team is 5.5 games out with 35 to play, there's quite a bit of work to be done and not a lot of time left in which to do it. I'm looking either at needing to play .667 ball for over a month, or needing to win at least 5 out of 7 head-to-head, and neither one is an easy task. If either was easy, I probably wouldn't be 5.5 games out, and I am.
But more importantly, the notion that the A's tend to fade in September is just patently false. Oakland faded the last two Septembers, one of which was in a season that Billy Beane publicly declared, in Spring Training, would be "the worst A's team in the next 5 years." From 2000-2003, the A's did anything but fade. In 2000, they surged to a playoff spot in September. In 2001, upon acquiring Jermaine Dye they took off and never looked back, playing .700 ball the entire second half of the season. In 2002, they faded in September only if measured against August, 2002, when they neglected to lose for 20 straight games. If they faded in September, 2003, the standings didn't notice because in October, it was Tejada and Byrnes, not Guerrero and Anderson, rounding third and carefully eschewing bases with an odd number of sides.
"Two" is a very small sample size, especially when measured against "four". If a team, four games in a row, came back to win in the 9th, and then lost two games in a row, you wouldn't be likely to dismiss that club as "a team that, lately, never comes back in the 9th." I think it's fair to say that the A's have shown an inability to advance in the ALDS. (I think it's also fair to say that the A's have had such bizarre levels of misfortune in the ALDS so as to make me wonder which God I have angered, and with what act performed on what goat. But "incapable" or "unlucky"--I think either assessment is fair game.)
So Angels fans, if you think your team can turn it on and win 2/3 of its games the rest of the way, more power to you. If you think your team can dominate the most important seven games when they need to the most, fine. But "the A's usual September fade," count on it, book it, wait for it? No problem, of course it'll be here, just hang on a sec--I heard Godot's bringing it.