If I were to tell you at the beginning of the season that the Oakland Athletics would be one of the most exciting teams in baseball and in the hunt for a wild-card spot, you probably wouldn't have believed me.
It's time to believe.
The A's are playing solid baseball right now and find themselves six games back in the AL West behind only the Texas Rangers.
It's going to be difficult catching the Rangers for the division title, but if the A's continue to play this brand of baseball, the postseason is highly plausible.
Jump on the bandwagon before it's too late.
To get you caught up, here are 13 reasons the A's are the most fun team in baseball right now, in order with the best saved for last.
What often sets two teams who are similar apart is style or flair.
Take the Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates for example. Both teams haven't won much of anything in years, yet both teams are doing something special in 2012.
Both teams are winning with young talent who are outproducing expectations.
But which team has the ability to stand out more?
The mustard yellow, black and grey team or the bright green and yellow team?
Rather, the only green and yellow team in baseball.
From the hat—the only one in baseball to feature green as the predominant color—to the bright yellow jerseys, the A's are hard to miss.
It's hard not to get pumped upon simply seeing the uniform.
According to ESPN, Oakland ranks 28th in average attendance with 21,133 fans showing up for each game.
If you're an A's fan, you know the number is actually more like 16,000 at best.
The numbers are inflated by series' against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, there's nearly the same amount of opposing cheerleaders as there are hometown fans.
So is the lack of fans and stadium woes hindering the players? Is it damaging their psyches?
Not in the least.
More power to these players that they can go out there, head held high and continue fighting on.
Fan support is huge for morale, but these players still get it down without.
The traditional routine for walk-off wins is to nail the hero with a pie in the face.
The Oakland Athletics however, like to do things a bit different.
First, it's an ice bath.
Then, it's the pie in the face. Of course, this is followed by a Gatorade shower to top things off.
It's the trifecta of celebrations.
Derek Norris (left) congratulates Ryan Cook
The Oakland Athletics are the fourth youngest team in baseball.
All-Star Ryan Cook is just 25 years old. Josh Reddick and Tommy Milone are the same age too.
Guys that quietly produce include A.J. Griffin, Derek Norris and Sean Dolittle—each are under 25.
Throw in names like Jarrod Parker and Yoenis Cespedes. Neither are older than 26.
It's a bunch of kids out there.
They're playing the game with passion and flair and the fun they're having is obvious.
Furthermore, the A's have used 17 rookies this season (h/t Jon Morosi/Fox Sports). They're winning with guys who weren't even in the league last year.
Hate him or love him, with Billy Beane calling the shots within the Oakland Athletics' organization, it's always an adventure.
Will the A's buy, sell or stand pat at the deadline?
The only man that knows the answer is Beane—the same man whose life story and decision-making skills led to a blockbuster movie starring Brad Pitt.
It's one major storyline that adds intrigue and excitement to this team.
The Oakland Athletics have lacked national attention for the last few years.
When you win, you get the attention. When you lose, you don't make headlines.
Clearly, the A's are making the national media (and a few celebrities) take notice.
Even Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson is starting to "smell it."
Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News asked former player Eric Chavez for his thoughts:
"Got some pretty good stars, it looks like. They're mixing in some pieces. It's fun to see, definitely."
Chavvy is right, it's definitely fun to see.
While most of the national attention goes to Yoenis Cespedes, it's right fielder Josh Reddick who is making waves and earning fans in Oakland.
The guy gets it done in all facets of the game.
He leads the A's in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBI and walks. He's also turned two double plays and has seven outfield assists.
Then there's his personality.
Reddick is the ring leader of the postgame pie-in-the-face ceremony.
He's also known to use various wrestling themes as his walk-up song. So far he's used the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and NWO Wolfpack's themes.
But the rest of this group is wildly entertaining too.
Cespedes is a foreign-born player who first came into the spotlight with a 20-minute YouTube workout video. He's produced effectively since hitting the majors.
Brandon McCarthy is one of the most entertaining baseball players on Twitter (his wife is worth a follow too).
As if Coco Crisp's name wasn't already worth a chuckle, the outfielder is keen to sporting an afro reminiscent of players from the 1970s.
The A's are a fun group of players.
The home run is one of the best and most exciting things about baseball.
In 2011, the Oakland Athletics hit 98 home runs—good for 24th best in the majors.
They've already surpassed that number this season.
Their 101 big flys ranks them 14th. The power display is something A's fans have been yearning for the last few years.
The Oakland Athletics have the lowest average salary ($1.845M) in baseball. They're also at the bottom for lowest median salary ($487,000).
Their second-lowest overall team salary ($55M) beats the San Diego Padres by only $130,000.
There's no money.
There's no fans. There's also not many on the roster who've played on championship teams.
Money, fans and experience—the A's lack all of it.
Yet here they are in July, a half-game out of the wild-card race with recent wins against five of the top six teams with the biggest salaries.
April was a rough month for the Oakland Athletics.
In June they beat the Texas Rangers three times in four tries. They also swept the Los Angeles Dodgers.
July has been fantastic so far.
The month began with a sweep of the Red Sox. Oakland then swept a four-game series against the New York Yankees, the best team in baseball.
From here on out, the schedule isn't kind.
But if the A's can compete with the big boys of the league, they definitely have a legitimate shot at the postseason.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, Oakland Athletics brass and fans couldn't possibly have had high expectations.
You have to figure the thought was, "we'll give the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers a run for their money if we can, then sell at the deadline." The season's goal might have been as simple as "finish 81-81." Anything higher would simply be a bonus.
With low to no expectations, players can let loose and play the game they love.
Even now, in the face of a winning record, the expectations aren't soaring (if they are, you might be a little unrealistic).
At this point, if the A's make the postseason fans will be in a catatonic state of shock, awe, disbelief and ecstasy.
If they lose, it was still a good run.
Oakland's strong play, but lack of a playoff appearance in 2012 will only make the expectations and hope for 2013 rise.
It doesn't matter the sport, competition, game or bet—winning is fun.
The Oakland Athletics are currently eight games over .500.
Outside of an 81-81 record in 2010, the A's have not had a winning season since 2006.
The Oakland Athletics lead all of Major League Baseball in walk-off wins with 11.
Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com notes, "If that figure isn't absurd enough, the fact that it is a different A's player each time out that ends up the walk-off hero is."
The list of walk-off heroes includes Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Chris Carter and Derek Norris among others.
Everyone is contributing in big spots.