The Oakland Athletics, who had been claiming for years to be “Rooted in Oakland” and reaffirming their commitment to this city, announced abruptly last April that they would be moving to Las Vegas. In November, Major League Baseball’s owners unanimously approved of the move. Or, at least, it appeared to be. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, far from welcoming MLB into Sin City said on Tuesday that the A’s should remain in Oakland. The Athletics are facing the possibility of becoming the first baseball franchise to be homeless. It is starting to appear that contempt for fans has a cost.
The New York Post reported that Goodman did not utter the boilerplate of how happy she was that her city would get what is ostensibly an MLB team. Instead, Goodman expressed her sympathy for the city the Athletics had pretended to court and then abandoned when the time came. She declared, “I love the Oakland people.” “I believe they deserve their team,” she said. She also added that John Fisher, the self-serving owner of the A, “should listen to those who are up there.” It’s their team.”
Oakland fans made a concerted effort to prove that they were still there last June by staging a “Reverse Boycott.” Clary wanted to show Fisher and the world that despite their dismal performances and cynical practices of developing a winning team and then letting the best players go via free agency, Oakland supporters did indeed exist. “I thought we should just do this outrageous thing, go to a game when no one else would normally go, and see if we could get some attention and raise awareness about our
Clary, after fans of other teams joined the chorus, said, “I understand the other teams (fans) reaction too because I remember leaving Montreal with the Expos and thinking, “What a raw deal they are getting.” They love their team and are saddled with a crook owner. Now history is repeating itself.
Indeed. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao accused Fisher and A’s President Dave Kaval even of bad faith in negotiations:
I am disappointed that the A’s chose not to negotiate as a partner with the City in Oakland, respecting the long-standing relationship between fans, the City, and the team. The City of Oakland has done more than we expected to do to reach mutually beneficial agreements to keep the Oakland A’s. We’ve made great progress in the last three months to seal the deal. It is obvious to me that they have no desire to stay in Oakland, and are simply using this process to get a better deal from Las Vegas. I don’t want to continue playing that game. Our fans and residents deserve better.
Goodman thought the opposite: “I thought this is absurd and why are they staying in Oakland? Then I thought that they wanted to stay in Oakland. They wanted to be near the water. They had this magnificent dream. They can’t do it. After the controversy began, Goodman released a clarification which only slightly retracted from her original statement: “I mentioned that the Raiders fans who are passionate about Oakland often come to our city to support them. In my points, I said that in a perfect world, the owners of the A’s want a new ballpark by the water in Oakland. The ownership and the government should listen to the great fans there and make this dream come true. If that fails, Las Vegas has proven to be a fantastic market for major-league sports franchises.
Maybe the A’s end up somewhere else. It’s inevitable. The socialist Oakland is not the place for them. If they can make it to Vegas they will be the first team in baseball to have four homes: Philadelphia, Kansas City (where they “rooted” longest but eventually, not at all), Oakland, and Vegas. These actions show the callous disregard that owners of baseball teams (and other sports franchises) have for fans who pay money to buy their products. They seem to be certain that they cannot do anything, and that no amount of indifference or disloyalty will stop the fans from returning. The fans must show the baseball barons this is not true.