Many pundits thought this would be an off year for baseball's greatest rivalry, but I was in the minority in correctly predicting that Billy Beane reloaded this off-season and was prepared to battle with the favored Angels for the division title as fiercely as he has 5 out of the past 6 seasons. The Green and Gold Pennypinchers have not faded, nipping at the Angels' heels like the hungry dogs we know they are, ready to attack at the slightest hint of weakness. We are in First Place but they will not be beaten back without a direct confrontation - and we face them in their own dirty kennel this weekend.
With two young quality starting pitchers acquired thru trade (Greg Smith and Dana Eveland) bolstering the Harden-Duchscherer-Blanton trio, the Athletics have the best starting pitching outside of Boston and L.A. of Anaheim in the American league. Their bullpen is solid and the weakest link, Huston Street, still has 12 saves under his belt.
Their offense has shared a good part of the load this season and they have a healthy Eric Chavez back as well as touted rookie Carlos Gonzalez up to take a spin beyond 4-A. The A's split a four-game series in Anahiem earlier this season and the one thing to note about their game this year was that while great starting pitching held them at bay, the batters murdered every Angel pitching mistake and slaughtered anything even approximating league-average pitching. This is not the No-Hit Mathletics of Moneyball Walking that we have snickered at, folding their tents in September and On-Base-Percentaging their way down the drain ... these bats will kill the lackadaisical fielders and the panicky pitchers.
Let's get ready for a weekend of the West's two most storied franchises of this century's first decade. They are going at it again to make great baseball for all of us.