Take Back the Oakland A's
The Athletics of Oakland have been a staple in the city since 1968. Since that time they’ve gone to the World Series six times and won it four. Despite not winning an AL pennant since 1990, the A’s are still exceptionally high on the list of the most successful teams since 1968. Only the Yankees and Cardinals have appeared in the same number or more World Series’ than the A’s, and only the Yankees have won the same number or more titles than the A’s. What’s changed since the 1990 A’s went to the World Series?
Many changes have occurred since that 1990 team reached its third consecutive World Series. Personnel, coaching and front office staff have all been re-tooled over the past 22 years. Like him or not, A’s GM, Mr. Beane has redefined the term “Billy Ball”. The most significant change is that of owner. Walter A Haas Jr. was a staple in the Bay Area, founding a charity with his wife and bringing the A’s to prominence for a decade. During the 1980’s Mr. Haas brought in talented players and a hall-of-fame manager. The A’s went to the World Series three consecutive years, from 1988-1990, and won an AL West title in 1992. Mr. Haas passed away in 1995, and the Haas family sold the team. The impact of that sale has crippled the A’s as a team and a marketable franchise in the years to follow.
Since purchasing the team, John Fisher and Lewis Wolff have been in the lower half of team payroll every year, often residing near the bottom. In the early 2000’s the A’s enjoyed success through the ‘Beane Counting’ method of finding undervalued players, and won three AL West titles in four seasons (2000, 2002 and 2003). This method has since been incorporated by many teams in Major League Baseball, and no longer provides an advantage over other clubs. In the past eight seasons, the A’s have one division title and, since Mr. Haas passed, have been to the World Series the same number of times as Castlemont High. The current owners refuse to pay for high quality players and continue to fail, but the biggest insult is the attempt to move the team to San Jose.
Cleveland, Kansas City, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Washington DC, St. Louis, Houston, San Diego, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Arlington, TX. All of these cities had a higher operating income in 2011, and are smaller media markets, than Oakland. When the A’s were good, attendance was great. Now, atop the Coliseum, is a tarp that limits the number of seats available for A’s games. The team is bad, and the owners have no desire to bring it back to its former prominence. Why are they allowed to own a professional team?
Is not the purpose of an owner to try and put the pieces in place to win a championship? Understandably, there are steps to being a championship contender but, if you’re not even trying to build a winner why are you here? The answer, for A’s owners John Fisher and Lewis Wolff, is money. These two men are content making a few million a year with a losing club, than spending some money to put a winner on the field. As stated above, they can do both. The Washington Nationals have a payroll $26 million higher than the A’s (roughly 50% higher) but are worth $159 million more (according to the Forbes.com valuations http://www.forbes.com/mlb-valuations/list/) and generate an operating expense of $11.3 million more per year (again, according to Forbes.com).
Our message to these men is a simple one: “Please put a
winner on the field, and keep the team in Oakland. Not only is it good for
baseball; It’s good for the city of Oakland, the East Bay and even your already
deep pockets.” Join me in signing the following letter to these men, and show them
that people care enough to fight for the A’s to stay in Oakland but will no
longer tolerate owners who refuse to present a winning team, threaten to leave
and blame the fans for the current state of the team.
“To Mr. John Fisher and Mr. Lewis Wolff,
I, as an Oakland Athletics fan, wish for you to address the needs of the team and make a concerted, dedicated effort toward bringing a championship to the city of Oakland. Your refusal to do so to this point has been tolerated far too long. I, as a fan and member of this petition, will not attend an A’s game or purchase A’s merchandise until a time that your willingness to win a World Series is evident. In addition, I will not attend an A’s game or purchase any merchandise until you publicly state that the team will not be pursuing a move to another city. I feel the current site of the A’s, and its immediate surrounding areas, have sufficient room to accommodate a new ballpark.
If you are unwilling to make these simple commitments to the team and the city, then I ask that you find an owner who is willing. I ask that, if unwilling to dedicate yourselves to improving, you sell the team to an owner who has a desire to win titles. This is an ultimatum: Improve the team, by bringing in better players or selling to someone who is, or lose any revenue you would get from me as a fan.”