1988: Oakland Clinches the West

Monday September 19, 1988

As the Twins close in on yet another AL Central title, it is easy to forget that there was a time when winning the division was not the norm for this team. In 1987, they seemingly came out of nowhere to win a weak AL West. A year later, though the Twins sported a better record than they had in their World Series year of 1987, the AL West was no longer a weak division. The Oakland A’s were on the front end of the dynasty that would last through the early part of the 1990’s, and it can be argued that the 1988 team was the best of those A’s teams.

By mid-September of 1988 it had become clear that the A’s were the better team, so the events of 9/19 seemed like somewhat of a formality.

The torch was passed from the Twins to the Oakland Athletics on a cool Monday night by the bay. More accurately, it was wrested away – yanked from the hands of a good team by a great team.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The Athletics have been preening atop the division in full view of the American League for 150 games. This team is loaded, at least for one season, playing at a dizzying 41 games above .500.

No question, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The standings have been right there in hard black and white each morning. Even as Twins fans, remembering the unlikely events of 1987, waited for some miraculous intervention that would turn it all right-side up, the Athletics were flexing those muscles one more time.

The Athletics beat the Twins 5-3 at Oakland Coliseum to clinch the American League West Division title. Fans at the Metrodome can stop leaning toward one another and asking “What’d Oakland do?” every five minutes. Oakland has done enough.

-Tom Powers, Pioneer Press

From the other side of the river:

Even when the clinching was close, the entire matter seemed moot, decided weeks ago and accepted by everyone in both clubhouses. That it happened on the road might have softened the blow for the Twins, but it still stung.

The Twins remembered the feel, the atmosphere of that champagne-soaked clubhouse in Texas 12 months ago and they knew that it all belonged to Oakland Monday night. The Athletics marched off with a 5-3 victory and carried the American League West title with them inside the Coliseum, which started shaking in batting practice.

That the A’s should clinch against the Twins seemed fitting. Oakland general manager Sandy Alderson set out nine months ago to deal the A’s into the playoffs after the Twins stole the division with 85 victories. It worked. All of it.

Unlike Twins manager Tom Kelly, who stayed behind and watched the Twins roll around the Arlington Stadium mound last September, A’s manager Tony La Russa followed the last player off the bench and joined the party in progress.

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