They came in with the swagger of the 1927 Yankees and staggered out like the 1954 Cleveland Indians.

How did it all unravel for the Oakland A's?In the gloom of the Oakland A's clubhouse Thursday night, someone asked catcher Ron Hassey to put his feelings in words.

"I don't think you can call it a total shock," said Hassey.

No?

Baseball historians will disagree on the count.

History will not be kind to the 1988 A's, who cruised and bruised their way to 104 victories and a four-game sweep of the American League playoffs, only to self-destruct in the World Series.

It is only the biggest blow to American League pride since the 1969 New York Mets stunned powerful Baltimore in five games.

After that, Cleveland, 1954. The Indians won 111 regular-season games then fell in four to the New York Giants.

So dominating was Dodger pitching that the A's hit only .177 in the World Series and had as many homers as Mickey Hatcher (2).

Oakland's Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, had just two hits between them in 36 at-bats. They were outhomered in the Series 5-2 by a Dodger team that had one bat from Kirk Gibson.

Oakland manager Tony LaRussa was asked how he would answer to the eventual question of whether the A's "choked."

Said LaRussa, "I think it had a lot more to do with the positive things the Dodgers did to beat us than with the negative things we didn't do."