Like the Giants, the A's won 94 regular-season games last year. They were one Division Series win from advancing to the American League Championship Series, where the aging Yankees would have been the vulnerable opponent.
The Tigers knocked out the A's and swept the Yankees to advance to the World Series, and A's manager Bob Melvin was asked if he ever looks back and wonders, "That could have been us."
"I do," he confessed, implying an A's-Giants World Series. "I mean, it's tough to do that. The way it played out is the way it played out. But it would've been cool, especially with how both teams played down the stretch and all the excitement baseball-wise in the Bay Area. It would've been real neat."
The A's, who beat the Astros 6-2 Sunday to clinch a sweep and conclude their weeklong Texas retreat at 5-1, will play the Giants the next two days at the Coliseum, their first interleague games of the season, before traveling across the bay for two more games with their area rival.
It's a duel of 2012 division winners, though one team had much more to show for it. The Giants won it all, but at least the A's regained some love while posting their first winning record in six years. Under Melvin, the A's had a competitive edge that had been missing at the Coliseum.
Fan support picked up at season's end, and Melvin's hoping the momentum carries over to the upcoming series and that Coliseum crowds are far more pro-A's than what he remembers at the A's-Giants series in June 2011, his first month on the job.
"It seemed like there might've been a few more Giants fans there," Melvin said. "Now we're getting our share. When the Yankees are at our place, it seems there are more A's fans now. Boston, all the teams that usually draw the crowds from the other side. Hopefully we're making a dent as far as that goes with the Giants, too."
Melvin understands both sides of the rivalry. He has worn both uniforms (he was a Giants catcher from 1986 to '88), followed both teams as a youth (he went to Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park and then Cal) and looks forward to these four interleague games.