Saturday, September 17, 2005

21st Century Dream

Be quick now: which American League franchise ranks second to the Yankees in all-time World Series wins?

As Joe Morgan would tell you, it’s the Oakland/Philadelphia Athletics (we will not mention their Kansas interregnum, which was as futile as that of today’s Royals).

One game back of the division lead, and four games back of the wild-card, the A’s need to go 9 – 6 to notch their sixth consecutive 90-win season.

If this happens, it will exceed the run of the '71 – '75 A’s, who won three championships, and equal the two great runs of their Philadelphia predecessors during '09 – '14 and '27 – '32 when they took home five titles.

All that’s missing for the 21st century A’s are the rings.

Of course the days of Connie Mack, Catfish Hunter, and even the '89 sweep of their Bay-area rivals, are distant memories to the 27,000 fans who bother to show up at the Coliseum to see this century’s only regular-season rival to Yankees’ supremacy.

Their disinterest is unfortunate, but consistent with the behaviour of other fans. Championships put bums in seats – witness the Angels, whose 2002 title lifted attendance up by 1 million in each of their next three seasons, despite the post-title slump of '03.

Those Angels fans have seen the home-half of 507 regular season wins since 2000, while a third fewer people in Oakland witnessed their share of the team’s 564 wins.

Going to the ballpark with the knowledge that your team is always in contention is a rare privilege in any sport – and one that baseball fans in Detroit, Baltimore or Tampa haven’t experienced in years (or ever).

Looking at the cumulative 2000 – 2005 (to-date) records for the American League, and the annual results, it’s apparent that only the Yankees and Athletics have put on consistently superior performances. The other five teams to reach 500 wins since 2000 have each finished 10 game back at least once, and most have done far worse in some years.

Yet year after year – even into 2005’s supposed "rebuilding" year – the Oakland A’s are going toe-to-toe with the Goliath of North American professional sport.

It hasn’t resulted in a championship yet, but it deserves more respect than it gets. Perhaps once the title comes, Oakland’s home fans will agree.

Cumulative American League Win-Loss Records
2000 – September 16, 2005 (inclusive)

AL East
New York Yankees571381
Boston Red Sox539417
Toronto Blue Jays466489
Baltimore Orioles422533
Tampa Bay Devil Rays380575

AL Central
Cleveland Indians506451
Minnesota Twins506450
Chicago White Sox499458
Kansas City Royals393562
Detroit Tigers382573

AL West
Oakland Athletics564392
Seattle Mariners523437
Anaheim Angels507450
Texas Rangers449509


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