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Flatlining In May: What It Really Means Or Doesn't

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Let's see how many words it takes me to essentially say "Not much because you just never know." The A's have been here before, plunging further and further into an abyss in May. 2005 comes to mind, when Oakland had to fall all the way to 17-32 before turning it around to the tune of an .800 record over 2 months.

As bizarre as the 2005 season was, it was also normal in that nowhere does the phrase "expect the unexpected" apply more than in the confounding world of baseball. Rarely does the same weird thing happen twice, yet rarely does some weird thing not happen.

You might be 15 games under .500 at the end of May and then win 80% of your games for 2 months. You might reel off a record-setting 20 wins in a row. Conversely, you might be setting the world on fire for 4 months and then spend the last 2 months finding new and agonizing ways to choke away games until you find yourself hanging off a cliff grasping desperately for the single strand of yarn that is the second wild card.

Because baseball is so impossible to predict, there really is value in following Bob Melvin's decry of staying in the moment. No matter who you are, the most winnable game of the season is "tonight's game" while the least winnable is "yesterday's" and the least predictable is "tomorrow's".

Simple and pedantic as it sounds, the A's best approach right now is just to try to win tonight's game and hope that if they win enough "tonight's games" they might find themselves relevant again at some point. There is no reason to look at the standings or project how they would need to play in order to get to a certain number of wins.

This is because right now, the A's are most definitely not chasing the Astros. Or the Angels. They are chasing the .500 mark because until they get there it's kind of silly to think in terms of playoffs and contention. And now that .500 is a long ways away -- perhaps it will take a stretch of going 24-13 to get there -- there is no value even in charting how many games under .500 the team is.

Play well. Win. Make it a habit. Find yourself at .500. Get close to the team leading the division. Catch them. Six stages and four months. It's not only possible, even if it's unlikely, it's also the only avenue the A's have. And I'll be here all summer so what do you say let's do it?