Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chargers' Choke Against Patriots Brings Back Reminders of A's/Dodgers

Recent playoff performances of the Dodgers will keep Dodger fans living in the past, at least for now. There are some fond, fond memories waiting for us there.

After witnessing this weekend's heartbreaking loss of the San Diego Chargers to the Patriots, Buster Olney of ESPN.com waxed nostalgic about comparable performances in baseball. And guess which one topped the list (ahead of the 1986 Red Sox and the 2003 Cubs)?

Last night, I was trying to think of comparable baseball postseasons, from the last 25 years, when the team that appeared to be the best had to trudge into the offseason knowing it could have and probably should have won.

1. The '88 Athletics and Mets
Oakland had the game's best closer in Dennis Eckersley and the Bash Brothers and a solid rotation, and the Mets had Dwight Gooden and a ridiculously stacked lineup. And yet the Dodgers won the World Series, with a lineup that was completely battered by injury; Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit home run came on his only at-bat of the World Series, right fielder Mike Marshall was hurt and catcher Mike Scioscia was hurt. L.A. did have Orel Hershiser, who basically hoisted the Dodgers onto his back and carried them, something rarely seen with a starting pitcher.

There are probably moments now in which some of the Athletics and Mets think about those Dodgers and shake their heads, remembering that a team that relied on Mickey Hatcher, Rick Dempsey, Jeff Hamilton and John Shelby walked away with the title.

I feel badly for the Chargers.

I don't feel all that badly for the A's.