The Front Row with MARK NELKE Oct. 7, 2012 - Coeur d'Alene Press: Sports

The Front Row with MARK NELKE Oct. 7, 2012

Lots to mull over between pitches

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Posted: Sunday, October 7, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:40 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

This year's final day of the regular season was nowhere near as dramatic as last year's, which featured the Braves' nearly annual meltdown, the Red Sox's collapse and the Rays' victory over the Yankees junior varsity to earn a playoff spot.

Adding the extra wild card to each league actually decreased the drama of the final day.

The torturous ending to the Braves' season would come two days later this year, in the winner-take-all wild card game.

The one decent game that day had the Oakland A's finish off a sweep of the Texas Rangers/former Spokane Indians to give the A's an AL West title that no one saw coming. How big was that win, winning the West instead of settling for the wild card - two days later, the Rangers/former Indians, the two-time defending AL champions, one pitch from winning the World Series last year, were put out of their misery two days later in the wild card game.

Anyway, with the day's lineup not quite as riveting overall, it allowed a mind to wander - not to mention a body to go outside and rake up pine needles.

* I found myself thinking ahead to the Lake City-Coeur d'Alene football game in a couple of weeks. The Viking bandwagon might have gotten a little less crowded lately, following a couple of losses - albeit it was to two of the top programs in the region.

Translated - though perhaps not quite as dominant, this year's Vikings are still pretty darn good.

And Lake City, down a bit in recent years after being among the state's elite for many years, is playing much better this year.

But after watching both teams a few times, my first thought is, it will still be up to Lake City to keep up with Coeur d'Alene.

* Watching the A's winning, wearing their throwback uniforms, brought me back to when I watched them during their glory days in the early 1970s. The names of that era remain entrenched in my mind - Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Gene Tenace, Kathy Davis ...

Kathy Davis? Yeah, well, um ... did you know Gene Tenace’s first name really isn’t Gene?

Anyway, the fact the A’s made the playoffs should be a slap in the face of the Mariners. Didn’t Oakland de-emphasize winning baseball? As soon as their players got good, they had to unload them because they couldn’t afford them.

The Mariners whine because they can’t attract big-time free agents, but it’s not like the A’s are bringing in Prince Fielder either.

The Mariners are the only team in the AL West that did not contend this year. Maybe they can beat up on the Astros next year. I see they’re moving in the fences a couple of feet at Safeco next year, but it won’t turn it into the old launching pad they called The Kingdome.

Still, if the A’s can win with pitching, timely hitting and a few decent veteran acquisitions, there’s no reason the M’s can’t win that way.

They just need to stuff their excuses between the new fence and the old fence.

• Wonder how the fans in L.A. are enjoying the playoffs. The Angels spent big on Albert Pujols, and came up short. The Dodgers, trying to be the Yankees of the West, brought in some big-name players, but that still wasn’t good enough.

• According to his baseball card, Gene Tenace’s first name is Fury.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter at CdAPressSports.

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