Catfish Stew
Special 2020 edition
by Ken Arneson
2020-09-27 23:30

Well, here we are. We made it through a 60-game regular season in a pandemic, amidst racial unrest, and our state on fire. And if it wasn't for the sentence before this one, you could say the regular season was quite a success for the A's, as they won the American League Western Division by 7 games over their nemesis the last few years, the Houston Astros.

The A's regular season ended on Sunday with a 6-2 win over the Seattle Mariners. The victory, combined with the Minnesota Twins losing in extra innings to the Cincinnati Reds, gave the A's the #2 seed in the playoffs, and a matchup with the Chicago White Sox.

That may not have been the best idea, since if the A's had lost, or the Twins had won, the A's would have played the Astros instead. The Astros finished with a losing record of 29-31. The White Sox were 35-25, have a bunch of hitters at the top of their lineup who can mash, and have a pair of very strong starting pitchers, Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, who will be a formidable obstacle in a 3-game series.

The other thing that makes the White Sox a tough matchup for the A's is that their lineup is strongly right-handed, and have a penchant for destroying left-handed pitching. They went 14-0 against left handed starters this season. And that's a problem for the A's, because two of their three strongest pitchers heading into the playoffs are left-handed, namely Jesús Luzardo and Sean Manaea.

But maybe it doesn't matter, because in this universe, the A's beat the White Sox in the first round and the Astros in the second, and in an alternate universe, they beat the Astros in this round, and the White Sox in the next. Or maybe it doesn't matter because in all possible universes, the A's lose painfully in the first round no matter who they play, because that's just the way the universe seems to prefer it.

The preferences of the universe, however, are one of the few things that give me hope for the A's in the playoffs. The A's have been a metaphorical disaster in every playoffs in which they've appeared in the last 45 years, with one exception: 1989. And that championship was accompanied by the literal disaster of major earthquake. So now that we have all sorts of other real, literal disasters going on, could this be the year the universe prefers the A's win again?

That's a really stupid, illogical argument, but it's all I've got to cling to. Otherwise, I'm really pessimistic about the A's chances. I love regular season baseball, but when the A's are in the postseason, it's unbearable. Every stupid loss just rips my emotions into pieces. It's the worst.

Unless somehow, it isn't. Which I know, logically, must be possible, but my mind cannot grasp the concept. It feels impossible. I just want, for once, in this year of all years, for my mind to be blown by an inconcievable turn of good fortune.

Let the next phase begin, and let's see what happens.

Games 58 & 59, Mariners 5 & 12, A's 1 & 3 | ALWC Game 1, White Sox 4, A's 1
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