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The Long Road Ends...And Another Begins

The A's have won the 2006 American League West Division championship. It's a celebration that should last...well, at least seven days. And we can celebrate into the offseason no matter what happens in October.

The A's won tonight because their offense was able to take advantage of a young pitcher that repeatedly caught too much of the plate. This was a closer game than will ever show on the scoreboard. And the reason it wound up being a 12-3 spanking was simple. King Richard. His performance in the third inning was just awesome. He had a bases loaded situation and was down 3-0 to Raul Ibanez. Not too many pitchers can throw five straight fastballs and still get a major league hitter like Ibanez on a strikeout.

If Harden has one more nice final tuneup, he could be the element that really helps the A's do something they haven't done in Billy Beane's regime and that's advance past the first round.

Kudos to Ken Macha on a great job managing this season and usually (note the use of the word) making the right decision with the bullpen AND the lineup night in and night out.

Kudos to Billy Beane for assembling a team that had so much depth that it survived injuries that very well could've crippled other organizations. You also built a bullpen second to none in the American League, had the foresight to build a defense that ultimately was the difference in the American League West and you stuck to your guns and kept Barry Zito despite a huge amount of outside pressure to deal the A's pitcher. And finally, the decision to bring in Milton Bradley and A's MVP Frank Thomas. Both were instrumental in this victory. It was also appropriate that the guy who was possibly Beane's biggest under-the-radar steal of the year in Chad Gaudin wound up on the mound when the A's made the final out tonight.

If you'd asked me last night if the A's had a chance this postseason, I would've answered a resounding NO. Course that would've probably been the tequila and emotion speaking. I still think it's going to be tough sledding no matter who the A's get.

But right now, I don't care. The A's are one of the eight teams in the majors that will have a chance to win the World Series. And that's all you can ask for.

Lucky baseballgirl, she made the trip to Seattle and is probably awash in champagne right now. Lucky AN, I'm traveling for business tomorrow and baseballgirl will be able to probably regale you with tales from the Emerald City where I'm sure she will be partying late into the night.