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July 2, 2014 at 1:06 am ET
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Jiggle the Handle: The First-Place Oakland A’s
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Bob Melvin does it all.

The backed-up toilets in the Oakland Coliseum are more famous than the ballplayers who use them.

Despite small crowds, bad plumbing and the last multi-use stadium in America, the Athletics are close to a new lease at the hulking cement Coliseum recently. And no wonder.

The A’s should be as leaky as those clubhouse commodes. Instead, they’re the best team in the American League. By a lot.

Top to bottom, Oakland’s lineup consists of late bloomers, journeymen and homegrown bargains. I mean, come on … Alberto Callaspo? The anchors of the starting rotation were overlooked by much bigger-budget teams. Scott Kazmir? Jesse Chavez? And the bullpen defies laws of both physics and economics. Luke Gregerson? Dan Otero?

Despite ringing in at 19 games over .500, they’re the hardest-luck team in the league, if you believe the SABR pythagoran stat. (And you prolly should.)

They win at home and they win on the road. They win in regulation and they win in extra innings. They win in their own league and they win in the National League.

The only stat where they hover around .500 is in one-run games, where they’re 13 and 11. Oakland has played 16 different teams in the first half of 2014. And they have a losing record against only two – Toronto and Detroit.

Halfway through the 2014 season, it’s easy to say the Athletics are ripe for a second-half spiral. They can’t sustain this kind of momentum, can they? I keep looking for that telltale stat that predicts the balloon will pop in July or August. But outside of their no-name lineup, which sure hasn’t hurt them so far, everything points to more of the same in Oakland.

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