The last time the Oakland Athletics swept the New York Yankees in four games it was 2012. Sunday they completed, what is now their most recent, four game series sweep of the Yankees. The Yankees have one of the best records in the game and the A’s have one of the worst.
To a lot of people, despite sitting in last place in the American League West, this season feels eerily reminiscent of that 2012 season.
For the A’s 2012 was a magical season in which they started extremely slow and went on a winning run in the second half, with the Yankees series seemingly being the turnaround moment.
That extraordinary run led them to win the American League West Division Title, while playing their title seeking rival Texas Rangers in Oakland, on the final day of the regular season.
It was the only day that the Athletics held sole position of first place in the AL West in 2012 and luckily for them it was the one day of the season that truly mattered.
Things were different then, the team still had Josh Donaldson, Josh Reddick, and Yoenis Cespedes, and they were still predicted by experts to lose 100 games, after a series of questionable offseason moves by then-GM Billy Beane.
David DeJong of Bleacher Report put the A’s 2012 incredible season into words perfectly.
They got on the backs of rookie pitchers named Parker and Griffin and Blackley and Milone and Straily and Scribner and Doolittle and Cook. And on the strength of 195 home runs, 14 walk-off wins, a dance called the Bernie, and pie-in-the-face pandemonium, did something no one has ever done in the history of the major leagues. They didn’t just come back from 13 games to win a division title (only four other teams had done that in the history of Major League Baseball). They came from 5 games back with nine games to go to win their division. And no one, according CSN Bay Area, has EVER done that.”
Is this year really so different? Could this Yankees series be the moment that the A’s, with their group of rookies, turn things around and go on a run that could lead them to something better than a division title?
Currently, they are only five games out of the running for a second Wild Card spot. Given the description of the remarkable history-making strides they made in 2012, along with some of the other unbelievable feats that the team has pulled off in its rich history (winning three straight World Championships in the 1970’s, sweeping their cross-Bay rivals in the 1989 World Series, winning 20 consecutive games in 2002 — to name a few), is it too strange to begin to think that the A’s might just do it again?
Of course, this is baseball and they could get swept in their next series against the American League-leading Houston Astros or they might not. You can never really know in this game, however, 2012 and 2017 are beginning to appear to be somewhat similar.
Were the A’s expected to win the series against the Yankees? No. Were they expected to pull off a four-game sweep? Absolutely not. Yet, Sunday at the the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum they pulled off the four-game sweep.
And how did they do it? Well, they stood on the backs of their rookies such as recent call-up third baseman Matt Chapman, rookie starter Jharel Cotton and rookie second baseman Chad Pinder, not unlike 2012.
They’ve been quietly hitting more home runs than most of baseball this season. Ryon Healy homered Saturday and Khris Davis’ 18th home run of 2017 was helpful in Sunday’s win — again, not unlike what happened in 2012.
There’s nothing to suggest that this sweep will suddenly propel the A’s to victory and turn their season around but the similarities are there — and so are some differences.
Their sweep of the Yankees happened later in the season in 2012, they had fewer hurdles to jump over and the team was, overall, just a tad more seasoned than the 2017 Athletics. The rookies in 2012 weren’t recent call-ups and had had more playing time in the majors, and the 2012 team had a couple more veteran players.
No one ever knows what extraordinary things will happen, good or bad, on any given day in any given ballpark. A ball could run right under the legs of Bill Buckner and cost the Boston Red Sox the World Series or a fan could interfere while attempting to catch a ball and deny the Chicago Cubs a chance at the World Series.
But just because we don’t know what will happen doesn’t mean that the similarities are there. There is also nothing that suggests that the young team the A’s have been carefully building in the minor leagues the last few seasons can’t also pull off a bit of magic themselves.
All we really know is that the A’s youth movement appears to be moving in a positive direction whether they win this year or next or the one after that, it is working.
We also know that the last-place Oakland Athletics easily swept the AL East leading New York Yankees in a dominate four game series.
For now, that is going to have to be enough.
[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]