It's official. The best story in the Major Leagues in 2012 has a happy regular season ending. The A's, in a game very much symbolic of their entire year, shook off a slow start to blister the Texas Rangers 12-5, completing a remarkable comeback to win the AL West title in front of a joyous Oakland Coliseum crowd.
You know, it still really doesn't seem that long ago that the 2002 A's (aka Team Moneyball) rode an amazing, historic hot streak to win the division and enter the playoffs in much the same fashion. For all of the stars that team had (Hudson, Mulder, Zito, AL MVP Miguel Tejada, Chavez, etc.), there were plenty of role players that delivered in big moments.
And guess what? In the biggest game of the year, the key plays were made by A's role players like Evan Scribner (2.2 scoreless innings of relief to keep the game close) and catcher Derek Norris. I write for a living, but even I don't have the words for this. It is simply amazing. So before we start preparing for a preview of the ALDS against either a very dangerous Detroit team or the wild card survivor, let's step back in time for a bit.
Yes, I think to fully appreciate this team in a larger context, you have to understand the genesis of this type of run actually started over a decade ago. People still knock Billy Beane for not winning a World Series when teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City would love to sniff .500, let alone the playoffs a half dozen times since 2000. The more things change, well, you know the rest. Let's look back at the 2002 A's and see just how much they compare to this amazing 2012 team.