On Oct. 21, 1973, the Oakland Athletics won the franchise’s fifth World Series title with a Game 7 victory over the New York Mets. Forty-six years later, the victory stands as the most recent winner-take-all victory for the franchise.
Since then, the A’s have lost nine consecutive winner-take-all matchups, all coming in the last 20 years.
Six times Oakland has lost in Game 5 of the ALDS, and thrice now have they’ve fallen in the AL wild card game — Wednesday night’s 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Coliseum marking the most recent occurrence.
Here’s a look back at Oakland’s close calls:
2000 ALDS (lost 3-2 vs. Yankees): In their first postseason appearance since 1992, the Athletics lost Game 5 at home, falling behind 6-0 in the top of the first inning with starter Gil Heredia only getting one out.
2001 ALDS (lost 3-2 vs. Yankees): In a series best known for Derek Jeter’s Flip, Oakland dropped three in a row after winning the first two at Yankee Stadium. The A’s had won 103 games in the regular season.
2002 ALDS (lost 3-2 vs. Twins): Oakland had a 2-1 series lead but got blown out in Game 4 before losing 5-4 at home in the decisive Game 5. The A’s had won 102 games in the regular season.
2003 ALDS (lost 3-2 vs. Red Sox): Oakland threw away another 2-0 series lead, with Barry Zito losing the winner-take-all Game 5 at home.
2012 ALDS (lost 3-2 vs. Tigers): The A’s actually rallied back in this series after falling behind 2-0, but were shut out at home by Justin Verlander in Game 5.
2013 ALDS (lost 3-2 vs. Tigers): Oakland had a 2-1 series lead, but for the second year in a row, were shut out by Justin Verlander and the Tigers at home in Game 5.
2014 AL wild-card game (lost to Royals 9-8 in 12 innings): Oakland had a 7-3 lead in the eighth inning but let Kansas City score three in the eighth and one in the ninth to tie it. The A’s would take a lead in the 12th before the Royals scored twice in the bottom of the inning to walk it off. Oakland had gone all in on the season, acquiring Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija at the trade deadline.
The “Lather. Rinse. Repeat” A’s are at it again.
Vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane and his crew have built a great team — latest postseason pratfall notwithstanding — but the fuse is already lit to blow it up.
The A’s are locked into the Cycle of Despair, which is not a carnival ride.
Develop great young players, build a dynamic ballclub, then blow it up and start all over. Blame it on outside political forces that prevent the A’s from building a new ballpark that would allow them to afford to keep their young talent.
Here’s the current situation: The A’s say they want to build a ballpark at Howard Terminal, and develop the neighborhood around it. In order to finance that development project, they need to buy the Coliseum land and develop that property, and use those profits to fund the Howard Terminal project. The A’s are having trouble buying the Coliseum, and that delay jeopardizes the ballpark plan. See opening paragraph above.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday told our Susan Slusser that Oakland better wake up, or risk losing the A’s to another city.
Nice of Manfred to present such an objective and nuanced overview of the situation.
Former commissioner Bud Selig used to say condescendingly when asked about the A’s ballpark situation, “It’s very complicated.”
Crowds arrive early on opening day of the Golden Gate International Exposition. Feb. 18, 1939.
It is complicated, so team owner John Fisher should step up and answer a few questions to help A’s fans and Oakland citizens understand why they’ve been jerked around for a couple decades and why that jerking might end soon.
One question: If you need funds from a Coliseum development to fund the Howard Terminal development, won’t you need a third real-estate development to fund the Coliseum development? And then a fourth development to fund the third development, and so on?
Dumb question? I’ve got more!
Deep thoughts, cheap shots & bon mots …
• Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has known since before last spring training that he will need a new manager next season. Yet he’s making it sound as if he’s just starting to compile a list of candidates. As of a few days ago, “there is no favorite.” If Zaidi hasn’t had a list since last March, with a favorite, something is wrong.
• The 49ers are starting to attract national recognition. Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling picked his early front-runners for NFL awards. He’s got Kyle Shanahan for Coach of the Year, and Joey Bosa for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
• Are the experts and some 49ers’ fans getting out over their skis? Maybe, but if you don’t get out over your skis, you’ll always be a terrible ski-jumper.
• Tom Tolbert’s got clout. He gets his boss, KNBR, to sign off on allowing him to work for rival 95.7 The Game, doing color commentary for Warriors’ home games. Tolbert will be a great sidekick for Tim Roye, but just once I’d like to hear a game called by Tolbert and John Madden. All sound effects, exclamations and guffaws.
• Derek Carr’s defense of teammate Vontaze Burfict was heartfelt and sincere, but video doesn’t lie. Not everyone can play NFL football. Some guys are too small, too wimpy, too old, too unathletic. And some are unable to play within the rules.
• In Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, the A’s have a million-dollar infield tandem. Literally. Chapman made $580,000 this season, Olson $507,500. When they become free agents, the A’s might need five or six real-estate developments to sign ’em.
• Reality check: Players always say that big, rowdy home crowds fire ’em up. Carl Steward, retired Bay Area sports scribe, points out that the A’s were 0-4 this season when playing in front of their four biggest home crowds. Playing in front of their 23 smallest home crowds, the A’s were 17-6.
• Hereby creating the Eck Award, named for Dennis Eckersley and presented to the player who shows the most grace in defeat. This year’s clubhouse leader is A’s wild-card starter Sean Manaea, who personed up Wednesday after getting lit up by the Rays. That level of maturity and poise will serve him well in the future. Also facing the music with dignity: manager Bob Melvin and his entire crew. There’s no whining in baseball.
• I saw video of Warriors forward Draymond Green dropping in a flurry of 3s in shooting practice. Sorry, but it looks like the same old Dray J — not enough wrist or elbow bend.
• The ping-pong table in the 49ers’ locker room, removed this year by order of Shanahan, is back, reports Santa Rosa Press Democrat football scribe Grant Cohn. So Shanahan is yo-yo-ing on ping-pong. Or is he boomeranging?
• But shower shoes are still OK in the 49ers’ locker room, so at least Shanahan is not flip-flopping on flip-flops.
• Still wide open for business: Joey Chestnut, the Bay Area’s own eating superstar. Chestnut won the World Taco Eating Championship in Santa Monica. He scarfed 82 tacos in eight minutes, 12½ more than the runner-up, who can’t carry Joey’s barf bag.
• Fun fact: Joey Chestnut has never won a chestnut-eating contest.
Knucklehead of the Week
The Twitter feed @NBAOfficial posted a mini tutorial on traveling. Ex-ref Monty McCutchen explains the rule — The player with the ball is allowed two full steps after his “gather.” To demonstrate a legal step-back 3-point shot, McCutchen uses a clip of Portland’s CJ McCollum. To show an illegal step-back three, her-r-re’s Steph Curry! Apparently no video was available of James Harden.
2018 AL wild-card game (lost 7-2 vs. Yankees): The A’s faced a tall task against the 100-win Yankees, but fell behind in the first inning and finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
2019 AL wild-card game (lost 5-1 vs. Rays):Yandy Diaz drilled a pair of homers and starter Charlie Morton stifled the A’s bats for five innings, allowing one unearned run. Oakland left nine men on base and could not muster enough run production despite out-hitting the Rays 8-7.