Why it sucks to be an Oakland A’s fan

Louis LaVenture,

For baseball fans, April is the best month of the year. The MLB season just started and every team has a chance to be a champion, as least for a little while.

However, not all fans are so lucky. An Oakland A’s fan since I was four-years-old, I am one of the unlucky fans who know we have no chance at winning a championship. For me it is less about being faithful to a sports organization and more just a way of life. My stepfather raised me to be an A’s fan because he was an A’s fan. After he passed away in 2004 it made me want to hold on to the tradition forever to honor his memory. So no matter what they do or don’t do, they have a green and gold fan for life in me.

When the A’s lose it hurts, but it’s expected. The lowered expectations soften the blows every year when our season ends without a championship, for the last 30 at least.

Ask Las Vegas odds makers at The Sports Book, a sports gambling business in Las Vegas, who recently had the A’s at 190 to one odds to win the World Series. Just the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres had worse odds and not by coincidence. The Brewers have the lowest payroll in the league this year at $63 million, and the Padres are second to last with $71 million. The A’s round out the bottom three with a total payroll of $81 million. Compare that to the Los Angeles Dodgers whose 2017 payroll is an astounding league-high $242 million and it makes sense why the A’s can’t compete; they can’t afford to.

Big-time free agents don’t want to come to a small market city like Oakland and even if they did, Oakland couldn’t afford to pay them. The stadium is no draw either. Opened in 1966, not only is it the third oldest stadium in professional sports according to statistics company Elias Sports Bureau, it is also the only professional sports venue that hosts multiple sports, which requires constant field changes when football and baseball seasons overlap in August through October. That won’t be a worry for long, since the Raiders plan to be in their new home in Las Vegas by 2020.

The stadium was renovated in 1995 when the Raiders returned from Los Angeles, however, it was designed to accommodate a football team, not baseball. So if players aren’t coming for the venue, what will they come to Oakland for?

To me it doesn’t matter that they lose all the time and the venue isn’t all that great, I’m still going to show up to games and watch them as much as I can on the road. Because of nostalgia and the memories it gives me, not because the team is doing things to encourage that, like make the playoffs.

The A’s haven’t been to the postseason since 2014 when they lost in the American League Wild Card game to the Kansas City Royals. The last time they went to a World Series was in 1990 when they lost to the Cincinnati Reds and the last time they won it was the year before in the Bay Bridge Series when they took down cross Bay rival San Francisco Giants. For anybody counting, that is nearly 30 years of championship-less baseball in Oakland. So players aren’t coming because of the history of success. Those championships are older than most players in the league today.

For 20 years A’s General Manager Billy Beane has tried to find value in players through mathematical equations, made famous by the 2011 film “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt as Beane. He said he tries to “find value in players nobody else sees in order to compete with the big guys.” According to Beane, him and his staff use math equations to figure out what players produce the most runs for their teams while not breaking the bank when it comes to contracts.

The strategy has been successful in his 20-year run, however, a championship has still eluded the franchise and Beane.

Oakland signed five free agents in the off season highlighted by former San Francisco relief pitcher and three time World Series champion Santiago Casilla. However, in the last two seasons Casilla became unstable and lost his starting job last year for the Giants squad that lost to the eventual world champion Chicago Cubs in the first round of the playoffs.

After Casilla, the two biggest signings were third baseman Matt Joyce and center fielder Rajai Davis. Who, you might ask? Exactly my point, while Casilla, Davis and Joyce are all solid veterans, none of them are household names or players who will push Oakland over the championship threshold.