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Kalama Hines

It first happened in 1906, in Chicago. The most recent occurrence was 2000, in New York. The one on the tip of the Bay Area’s tongue however was in 1989.

The “cross-town rivalry” World Series has the power to completely consume an entire state.

As the Major League Baseball season turns for the home stretch, the Bay Area’s two teams find themselves in similar situations.

Both the Giants and Athletics hold multi-game leads in the number one wild card position. But both also find themselves hot on the tails, in the divisional standings, of their respective rivals to the south.

While the comparisons between the Giants and A’s are abundant, the paths they have taken to their comparable standings hold great contrasts. It is for this reason that prospective playoff appearances of the two will be forced to follow separate scripts.

Among the many ebbs and flows which have encompassed this season of Bay Area baseball, both teams can trace the initiation of their struggles to certain events.

For San Francisco, the first two months found the Giants the top team in the game. But on June 25 centerfielder Angel Pagan was placed on the disabled list (DL) with an injured back, one that relegated the Giants leadoff hitter to several weeks worth of bench duty.

At the time of the injury, Pagan was among the league’s leaders with a .323 average, and the Giants held MLB’s top record (42-21) and a 10-game lead over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.  When the decision was made to send Pagan to the DL, the Giants held a minimized division lead of three games. Also, the “City” dwellers had relinquished the league’s-best record to the “Town’s” Athletics.

Oakland maintained the league’s best record until Aug. 8, when the their Tinseltown adversaries Angels jumped ahead of them.

Ironically, the surrendering of Oakland’s stranglehold on the MLB’s number one spot came mere weeks after a trade, one that was supposed to reassert their dominance.

On the July 31 trade deadline, the A’s sent their outfielder and offensive standout, Yoenis Cespedes, to the Boston Red Sox for frontline starting pitcher (SP) Jon Lester and Bay Area native Jonny Gomes.

In the loss of Cespedes, the A’s lost more than just 17 homeruns and 67 RBI, they lost an emotional leader on the field and among the fans.

Since the injury to Pagan and the trading of Cespedes, Bay Area baseball has endured a significant hit to their relevance.

Fans clad in black and orange, as well as green and gold, now find themselves watching their respective teams with bated breath and clenched fists. It has become more of a possibility that a different California cross-town rivalry will take the center stage of the 2014 World Series.

With nearly a month left in the season, however, both teams certainly have time to right the ship.

For the Giants, a recent string of successes non-coincidentally coincides with Pagan’s return to the lineup and leadoff spot, which fans will hope to see continue.  Meanwhile the A’s struggle to find someone who is capable of assuming the role of the clubhouse’s emotional leader, the role Cespedes held until being shipped to Beantown.

Can Pagan stay healthy? Will the A’s have a leader emerge?

There is one absolute certainty: the last four weeks of the regular season will have a level of excitement exceeded only by the postseason.

Especially if we are in store for a rematch 25 years in the making.

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