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No matter what goes right

Chron baseball writer Richard Justice has a regular Baseball Notebook column that runs every Sunday during the season. This Sunday’s effort talked about the labor issues and was surprisingly fair to the players’ union. Still, he couldn’t quite overcome his belief in the myth of competitive balance:

Given the current disparities between the rich teams and poor ones, only a handful of clubs have a real chance of contending for a championship. Others, like the A’s and Twins and Royals, can only contend if everything goes right, and even then their window of opportunity is limited by salary issues the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets don’t have.

Grouping the Royals, as badly-run a franchise as you’ll find, with the A’s and Twins is pretty seriously ignorant, but not my point. The A’s have been competitors since 1998 and contenders every year since 1999. That’s an awfully long time to have “everything go right”. Perhaps a better explanation is that the A’s know what they’re doing and can even overcome adversity as they did last year.

As for the Twins, they’re middle of the pack in pitching this year. As Rob Neyer notes, Joe Mays and Brad Radke have combined for five wins so far. And yet the Twins are dominating their division, thanks to much-improved hitting and weaker-than-expected competition. (Don’t forget to send a thank-you note to Kenny Williams, Twin fans.)

All teams face a certain amount of adversity. Good teams overcome it. When “everything goes right” you get the ’84 Tigers, the ’98 Yankees, or the ’01 Mariners. The Twins are a good team with a good future. The A’s have been a good team for several years. It’s time they got credit for it.

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