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The A’s 2018 campaign concluded with a 97 win count and a wild card berth. This was a season that was a lot of fun for many fans-yet ended in a very predictable way. The Athletics are gearing up for their 2019 season with a sense of optimism, yet…..predictability. The A’s have been stuck in a baseball purgatory for a couple decades now. Good enough to compete and make the playoffs,not good enough to win. The idea of Money-Ball was cute….15 years ago. Now the A’s are in a place where they have been left behind by almost every other big league team. Not just on the field but off of it as well.
The A’s are living in the shadows of a once glorious past. The same franchise that was once dubbed the “Yankee Killers”‘ is now more known for not being able to get a half full ballpark….in a pennant race. The A’s were once far and away the most popular baseball team in the Bay Area, only to be completely outsmarted by the Giants front office and ownership the last 20 years. The Bay Area has largely chosen who their favorite team is, and it’s not the green and gold. The experience at Oracle Park is so sweet, why should fans care if the Coliseum has free parking on Tuesday nights? Let’s be honest here….the A’s gameday product is boring, regardless of how well they are doing on the field. Fortunately, it seems that the Athletics are building a new ballpark soon. However the damage may have already been done. How can the A’s compete in a market with the 3rd wealthiest team in baseball when ownership can’t (or won’t) spend more revenue on the team?
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Part of what makes baseball exciting for the fans is watching the big name players. The A’s have rarely been able to attract mid level free agents- let alone the Bryce Harpers of the world. The narrative of the “misfits” or the “no name underdogs” has been played out with this team for far too long. The A’s will never be able to compete with the big dogs of the majors if they cannot land big name free agents, which they are in absolutely no place to do so currently. To the team’s credit, they have consistently been able to piece together respectable playoff teams. For me as an A’s fan, I love watching Melvin’s boys beat up on the best teams in the American league for a few months over the summer. However, we all know they won’t be able to compete with the big dogs come October. The lack of funding to fill holes in the roster haunts the Athletics every time they qualify for the dance.
In addition, the A’s cannot keep players long term, which is a huge blow to the fans, and the continuity of the team. The A’s will have a strong team for a couple years, come up short, have a fire-sale, then start the process over again. The fans have seen this soap opera play out time and again over the last 18 years.
The A’s need to get serious about winning, and I mean winning in the long term. If not, they will remain a team stuck in it’s ways, left behind by baseball and it’s fans.