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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

Last Saturday, we were at my friend Mark's, acknowledging the first birthday of his grandson Gavin, as part of a pretty big soiree.

The core of the 50 or so attendees are also regular participants in Mark and his wife Debbi's annual Passover Seder, an annual affair that has grown from four couples and eight folks in 1977 to somewhere around 40 now, and over that time my mates have had children, and as Gavin proves, have even become grandparents.

Needless to say, the generation of Gavin's parents have all grown up with fantasy sports (in fact we now have the Knights of the Passover Table Fantasy Football League) and all are baseball fans, though with clearly divided loyalties between the Giants and the Athletics.

Since the Giants were hopelessly hosting the Dodgers-they would lose 17-0--a lot of the Giants loyalists were absent, leaving me to answer the myriad of queries as to what is wrong with the Athletics.

I wish I knew, though I have my suspicions, just exactly how did a team with a run differential of 120 scores above the next closest team around All Star break time drop to third in the American League in total tallies over just a couple of months?

First and foremost--and as I noted at the time--Oakland vastly underestimated how the presence of Yoenis Cespedes made Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson better hitters.

I do think Billy Beane and his front office brain trust did calculate the team's run production would drop, but also figured that with the addition of Jon Lester to their seemingly strong rotation, the team would be in the position to win more games 3-2 than 7-4.

Furthermore, with such a strong squad at the time, the idea was to maintain and make it to the playoffs, where over a short series pitching generally dominates hitting.

Which was indeed a reasonable assumption irrespective of how the plan has panned out.

But, I think more the team that was crushing it with a 66-41 mark through July simply had not had a slump, something every team endures every year, and the good breaks and timely hits the team was getting the first four months of the season melted away with the trade and the Zen of even breaks that baseball gives us.

In other words, the team has had six bad weeks of play: something that had each bad week occurred after three strong weeks, would not have been as noticeable as the team's slip from front runner to wild card hopeful.

I still have hopes that the Athletics can kick off the jams the last ten days of the season, get into their groove (are they not now due?) and sneak or at least limp into the postseason, giving new life and a chance for the Beane plan to be tested.

But, this is a lot different than I thought it would be, marching into the postseason with another AL West title (that is now gone) and the best record (also a thing of history), so for some reason, this makes it harder to feel confident rooting for the guys.

For so long this season, I had relished Oakland charging into the Series, ultimately facing the Cardinals, the best team in the National League, with John Mozeliak and Beane's team facing off with the best squads and the smartest GM's.

That may well come to fruition, but at this point, I am not any more optimistic that the Athletics can make it that far, let alone beat Adam Wainwright and Matt Adams and company.

I am not really sure anyone can.

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