Just like ’88?

A's slugger Jose Canseco and Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser talk before game one of the 1988 World Series (AP/Eric Risberg)

I’ve been meaning to write about the Oakland Athletics for a while now, mainly since they’ve been playing such great baseball to start off the shortened 2020 MLB season, but also because of something my father said to me.

As a Los Angeles native and a Dodgers fan, I kept thinking to myself what a great World Series that would be, if two California teams, from opposite ends of the state, made it all the way to face each other.

“It’d be just like ’88!” my father mentioned.

Throwback

The year was 1988 and MLB’s best team, the Oakland Athletics had just steamrolled their way through the Boston Red Sox by sweeping them in the ALCS. They didn’t know it yet, but this would be the first of three years in which the A’s would consecutively reach the World Series.

The other side of MLB had a different tune to it, the National League’s top team, the New York Mets had just been beaten by a 94-win Dodgers team in a seven-game NLCS.

I hadn’t been born yet, that was still some four years away, but my dad, an A’s fan was very much alive, much of that due to his team’s electric season.

That ’88 A’s team (managed by Hall of Famer Tony La Russa) had Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Dave Henderson, Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley and just an overall great ball team.

The ’88 Dodgers on the other hand, had a good season, finishing first in the NL West, but not quite as impressive as their World Series opponents. This didn’t stop the team from competing and pushing through the playoffs with players like Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Don Sutton, Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela and of course Kirk Gibson.

Despite the great team and season run the A’s had, that series will always be Kirk Gibsons’ series as game one of the 1988 World Series was famously walked off by a Gibson home run.

Kirk Gibson’s famous walk-off home run against the Athletics at Dodger Stadium in 1988.
Back to 2020

The 2020 MLB season has been so different and so wild, but through 39 games (the most games played by a team so far this year), the Dodgers and the Athletics are two of the top teams in baseball. The boys from Chavez Ravine have been playing historic baseball this year, and so have the Athletics.

If both teams can make it all the way, it’d be just like ’88.

To watch Vin Scully’s full call of Kirk Gibson’s famous 1988 walk-off home run, click here.

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