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Tampa Bay Rays v Oakland Athletics
Throw away the key while you’re at it.
Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

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Know Your (Not) Enemy: Oakland A’s

Solidarity now, solidarity forever, but also let’s maybe win a series

The Sox head into Oakland, a city which for years meant sure and certain losses for the South Siders, but now is an empty monument to the greed and cynicism of our billionaire failures and their bankruptcy of decency, ethics, and imagination. Also the baseball is super crummy, but now in a sort of renegade outcast sort of way.

The A’s aren’t exactly inspiring, but just playing baseball in the face of such reckless idiocy is rootable. But if the Sox lose two this weekend I’m going to deface important monuments.

The Sox are 485-547 against Oakland, but if you stretch back to the whole history of the Athletics, we’re 1,054-999. Hopefully loss number 1,000 won’t be seen in the next few days.

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

I mean, not great! At one point the A’s were 12-50, and had a shot at being the worst team of all time. A neat seven-game win streak led to the inspiring “Reverse Boycott” game, the highlight of a frustrated and miserable season. Since peaking at 19-50, Oakland has gone 2-11 (as of this writing), having most recently been on the wrong end of a perfect game.

It’s a team designed not for a rebuild, but for an absolute teardown, for losing on purpose shaving salaries. But, as we’ll get to below, it is for reasons far more damning than vulture capitalist standard value-boosts. It’s so that the owner can steal the history of the team and break the hearts of fans to move to the desert where he can play king. Ownership wanted the A’s to be bad, and they are. Ownership is rewarded for its worst habits, and the fans lose.

Still, fuck, I’d kill for a seven-game win streak, I bet that was pretty sweet.

Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

No, not at all. They are dead-last as a team in slugging and OPS (though not OBP, which belongs to the White Sox). Their team WAR, per FanGraphs, is 11.1, a full six behind the Sox. Their current WAR leader is Esteury Ruiz, at 0.9.

DH Brent Rooker has 13 dingers, so it’s not like he is incapable of flashing power. Shea “Not the Stephen King book nor the movie adaptation starring Bronson Pinchot” Langeliers has nine homers. But look, you don’t have to worry about dingers, or them hitting, or scoring, as a general rule. They were designed to be bad at baseball.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

Look, if you can tell me about the guys Oakland has throwing for them, you are a real baseball sicko.

Friday, June 30
Sox: (TBD)

A’s: Luis Medina (1-7, 6.84) is a sometimes-reliever who has started seven games and lost ’em all. He does have a win coming in relief, in which he threw five innings. Look, I don’t know what to tell you.

Saturday, July 1
Sox: Dylan Cease (3-3, 4.04) ruled in his start against the Angels, and pitched well against the Rangers, with only two walks in 12 combined innings.

A’s: James Kaprielian (2-6, 6.34) is a former top prospect with the Yankees. He’s had a career derailed by injuries and an inability to get his velo back to where it was in college.

Sunday, July 2
Sox: Michael Kopech (3-7. 4.08) could not find the zone against the Angels, walking seven, after walking six a couple of starts back. Hopefully it isn’t a major regression.

A’s: Paul Blackburn (1-0, 3.77) is one of three A’s better than .500. He’s started six games, though, so you can tell your friends he is the beneficiary of the “No Decision.” Make yourself sound smart!

Why Do We Hate Oakland?

I don’t, and even if I did, I’m not going to kick a city while it is down. They lost the Raiders, are losing the A’s, and essentially lost the Warriors to their richer, glitzier, more plasticine neighbor across the bay.

If anything, Oakland is suffering from some of the worst combinations of wealthy desire: The ownership class wants to get away, while the political class wants to import Silicon Valley vampires to “transform” the city. The people are caught in the middle. Oakland has a history of some of the most authentically radical labor activism in the country, a muscular demonstration of workers’ rights, and it is being ground underfoot by the greedheads and their courtier class. It’s a city that’s being bought out and abandoned at the same time.

Why Do We Hate the A’s?

I hated the As in the ’80s because I hated the Bash Brothers and their strutting, cock-of-the-walk excellence. This became more true as the Sox got better and got boxed in by the A’s. I became a lifelong Reds-enjoyer based entirely on the 1990 World Series. Lingering hatred for the team colored how I felt about them even during the enjoyable Moneyball era.

But now? Nothing but seething hatred for team owner John Fisher, and his absolute indifference to decency. The — of fucking course — son of billionaires, he owns through sheer dint of birth 18% of the Gap, given by absolutely no merit of his own essentially endless wealth. And he bought the A’s, and with his birthwritten insulation from consequences or public opinion, has connived ever since to move to Vegas, where he could make them part of a convention center-shopping mall-extravanganza.

The fact that Vegas didn’t need this at all didn’t stop him, or the idiots in the city council. The fact that it is breaking a true fan base doesn’t matter at all. Nothing matters to these people, except being praised for being Bold Entrepreneurs and being told what smart boys they are. And lashing out when faced with even the mildest criticism.

Fisher, and let’s be honest, former Guy We Liked Billy Beane, have taken the wounded billionaire shtick to the next level. They deliberately set about to make the worst team possible to drive away fans in order to justify what they already planned. It is a case of manufactured indifference in order to paint themselves as the reluctant victims of fate. Would that it could be different, they moan, while stifling their jackal laughter.

This is one of the most breathtakingly cynical moves in sports ownership history, but par for the course of our Betters. They get something they didn’t earn and congratulate themselves for it. They are unwilling and indeed incapable of understanding the value of a thing outside how it makes them feel at any given moment. They are indifferent to the consequences of their action and entirely insulated from risk and want to be rewarded for how brave that makes them.

The A’s could completely fail in Oakland. Fisher would be temporarily embarrassed, but still rich. And Oakland will never again have what they love.

Let’s Hear it From White Sox Fans!


BAD TEAM (and also the owner sucks)!

BEAT WHITE SOX (and also the owner sucks)!

FOR REASONS OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY (and maybe also the owner sucks)!

ACTUALLY I LIKE THEM (but also the owner sucks)

EVERYTHING (especially also the owner sucks)

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