What is going on in Oakland? What is wrong with the Athletics ?


Hayden Hutchinson, Managing Editor

Sports teams can be the life of a city. When teams are successful, cities hold parades, not only celebrating the accomplishments of the teams but also the fans who helped fuel their run. The reality of American sports is that fans play a huge role in the success of teams. That is why it is so sad to see a fanbase stripped of their team with little to no fanfare, which is what has happened to the Oakland Athletics and their fanbase. This is a story of an ownership group who has toyed with fans and a city for years only to take it all away from them in the end.

To start, the current state of the Athletics is unacceptable. The A’s currently sit in dead last place with a record of 6-24, on pace one of the worst regular seasons in baseball history by winning percentage. They became the fastest team to a negative 100-run differential (being outscored by 100 runs) in just 21 games. For the mathematicians at home, they have outscored by an average of 5.5 runs per game. Their futility doesn’t end there as they boast a team average of a lowly 2.24 (26th out of 30) and a team ERA of 8.01, good for dead last in the Major leagues. The reality of the A’s is their front office has stopped trying to win games. Just 4 years ago the A’s were one of the best teams in the league also having a bright future. Young stars such as Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Sean Murphy were leading the organization into the future. Fast forward to now, and all three have been traded away for packages less than ideal. Currently the best player who has contributed from those deals on the A’s side is Esteury Ruiz, who only has a 90 OPS+ (100 is average). Unfortunately, things may only get worse as any players who are positively contributed are likely to be traded before the deadline. So how did it get to be this bad and why has the front office failed to put anything even resembling a major league team on the field?

As always, the answer is money. One of the reasons the Oakland A’s held prevalence through the 21st century was Moneyball, one of the most acclaimed sports films of all time. The idea was the A’s used analytics to support a small payroll and reel off an improbable 20-game win streak. However, while the A’s may have been the first team to utilize analytics in baseball, many other front offices quickly realized their importance and followed suit. This meant the one advantage they garnered had quickly vanished. They were, however, able to stay competitive throughout much of the 2010s until just recently where it seems they have attempted to steal a move from the movie Major League. They have put such a bad team on the field that fans do not want to come out to see it therefore increasing the chances they are able to move as a result of “lack of fans.” This moved have worked mostly with attendance numbers being at an MLB and all-time low. All of this goes back to the man in charge though.

John Fisher is a businessman with a net worth of over 2.2 billion dollars according to Forbes. The current issue on why they are attempting to move is the A’s desperately need a new stadium. The cavernous Oakland Coliseum has seen better days, and as currently constructed, it is not a great experience for fans. That being said, Fisher has continuously blamed the city of Oakland for not giving up taxpayer dollars in order to find the new stadium. The proposed idea from the organization would need 12 billion in infrastructure in order to build the stadium and surrounding area up to standards. That is 12 billion dollars the city of Oakland does not have, and that means the average citizen would be footing the bill. Oakland said no to this proposal and asked Fisher to put up some more of his own money, which Fisher did not want to do. This has led to the A’s organization buying a 50-acre land plot in Las Vegas, almost finalizing a move for the team. While it is hundreds of millions of dollars that Fisher would have to put up he has no excuses as one, he is not investing that money in the team and two,  he would recoup his losses with the revenue from the new stadium. However, MLB commissioner Robert Manfred has backed up Fisher in blaming the city for not coming through and therefore backing the idea of moving the team to lavish Las Vegas. This creates a dilemma for fans and the city of Oakland: now what are we supposed to do?

After both the NBA’s Warriors (who left Oakland for San Francisco) and NFL’s Raiders both left in 2019, the A’s were all that remained. Now there is going to be no professional sports franchises in Oakland. This has a detrimental effect on not only the fans but also the local economy. While there are varying studies on the impact of sports teams on cities economically, the restaurants, shops, and employees of the team will be directly impacted and that is no small thing.

There have been studies done on the psychological effects of sports teams on their fans. When people sign up to be a fan of a team they are signing up for years of frustration, agony, and anxiety all in pursuit of the feeling of winning. People win with their team and lose with their team, which is one of the most appealing parts of sports. For fans of the A’s, these negative feelings will have only been compounded recently with the news of the move. Not only have the loyal fans tried to deal with years of frugal spending to now dealing with apathy from the front office in fielding a team, but they will have to deal with the fallout of their team leaving. The reality of the situation is sad. Money is the mover of sports franchises, and with lack of investment and the promise of a better situation in Vegas, the league was never going to try and make things work as currently constructed. It is another failure of commissioner Rob Manfred in a tenure marred by scandals and lack of growth in the game.

In the end, after the dust settles, few people will write articles or discuss the effects on the fans and Oakland itself. If the team in Las Vegas is successful this will quickly be forgotten. However, the things that will not be forgotten will be the 20-game win streak, Dallas Braden’s perfect game, and Rickey Henderson breaking the stolen base record. The memories the A’s made for fans will be passed down for generations to come and no matter if that makes money or not, the MLB can never take that away from fans.