Limping home

In September 1996 I moved to Ventura from California. We rented the second level of a duplex near the beach. My wife had to stay in San Diego for a while, and during that first week in Ventura, I had no furniture, including no TV.
In September 1996, the San Diego Padres entered the final three games of the season two games out of first. The final three games were to be played against the Dodgers. The hated Dodgers. The only place I could go to see the games was a little dive bar half a block from the beach.
Fortunately, the turn out for the games was light. I was the only Padres fan in the bar, and pretty much the only patron who really cared about the games. Sure the other guys would raz me, but it never got serious. Still it was fun to watch the Padres sweep the Dodgers over the next three days while I was in a room with nothing but Dodger fans.
The Padres won the Western division in 1996 — one of three times they’ve won the division. The Dodgers, of course, have won it many more times than that.
Years later, I read some comments by Bob Costas who was arguing against the current playoff format. He says that when two division rivals are both assured of a playoff berth, season ending series are meaningless. The teams don’t take them seriously. They are gearing up for the first round of playoffs. He pointed to that 1996 Padres-Dodgers series where, he said, two teams were just going through the motions. The Padres championship was meaningless because the Dodgers didn’t really care about winning.
Tonight the Anaheim Angels beat the Oakland A’s for the fourth time in six head-to-head games — games that have all been played after both teams clinched playoff spots. The only thing up for grabs is the AL’s Western Division crown.
Are the A’s just going through the motions? It’s tempting to think so. Their bats have been somnolent recently. There’s one thing for sure, Mark Mulder isn’t letting up at all. He pitched 9 shutout innings against the Angels tonight, striking out 12 batters. He should have gotten the win, but Jerrod Washburn pitched 8 shutout innings before handing the ball to a reliever. The Angels won in 10, 1-0. It was an exciting game, but there’s that lingering thought — how much do these guys really care? Especially the Athletics who have been in the playoffs the last two years and know that’s where wins really count.
One thing’s for certain — the Angels are conceding nothing. They are playing to win. Any team that trots out its ace on only three days rest is gung-ho for victory. Winning the West obviously means something to the Angels.
If the A’s aren’t loafing, I’m concerned. You don’t want your team limping into the playoffs. They need some momentum. But maybe that 20-game winning streak sapped them of some energy.
I’m still bullish on the A’s, though. They’re pitching is just too good not to think they’re going to be a serious threat to any team they face if a five or seven game series.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged by . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply