The regular season is over. For the teams that have survived, the real season begins, as the calendar turns to October.
The 2013 campaign was very different for the Oakland A's in terms of expectations than was their magical 2012 season.
But in the end, the results were the same: An American League West division title and a date with the powerful Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series. Like 2012, the A's will again have home-field advantage against the Tigers.
And yes, like 2013, the A's are likely to be underdogs.
Oakland doesn't have a megastar like Miguel Cabrera, a pair of aces like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander—not to mention Anibal Sanchez—and has the specter of being good enough to get to this point, but not to win the series.
Since 2000, the A's have advanced to the playoffs six times. Only once, in 2006, did they advance to the American League Championship Series. That season, they were swept in a one-sided series by the Tigers.
Needless to say, there are some mixed emotions for long-time A's fans. Getting to this part of the baseball season is always nice, but there is a sense that it is time for Oakland to make a run. Make no mistake, what this Oakland team does not have in star power, it makes up for in sheer depth. No team is deeper than the A's in the MLB playoffs.
So what will happen, or should I say, what needs to happen for A's success in October? Here are five things I'm thinking about.