Mr. Wolff and Mr. Fisher, You Reap What You Sow
Even with the A’s getting a walk off hit by pitch and winning Wednesday’s game and taking 2 out of 3 in the 3 game series against the Kansas City Royals. All anyone can still talk about is Tuesday night’s rain out game with attendance in possibly the hundreds even though the stated attendance was 10,670. Our own Ben Cruz even waxed poetic about the A’s attendance woes in his latest musing and I’d like to pick up on his last paragraph and expand on it a little more on rooting for the name on the front of the uniform and not the back and also on how some of the local media outlets have reacted.
When attendance woes begin to show, especially this early in the season and after 5 home games the first suspect to blame is fans. Why not? They don’t have a leader or face of the fans (Insert empty chair pic joke here) so there is really no one to speak on their behalf when no one shows up. In many ways blaming fans for the ills of a franchise is like blaming the dog for eating your homework. The dog can’t talk back & call you a liar & who in their right mind is going to ask a dog if they actually ate your homework. That same process works when the media starts to dole out blame for low attendance numbers & the somber images of the empty seats in the coliseum start getting disseminated via Twitter like Chris Townsend’s twitpic of the LT Line shot:
Blame the fans because it will be good for radio, good for print, and good for web-site traffic. They’re the easiest scapegoat going because they are a blank canvas for blame.
Then who is next to blame, why the city of course. The next logical suspect for a good heaping of verbal justice always falls on the city in which the team resides. Like fans, the city doesn’t necessarily have a voice either other than local government officials who usually have more important things to worry about then a new stadium for a franchise. So what do media outlets do, go for the low hanging fruit and instead of researching & reading up on what has been done so far by the city of Oakland, they talk about how things can’t work because just look at the attendance. Also glossing over the parts about how building a “Publicly” financed stadium is next to near impossible in California, the bad deals that cities get into by doing this (Read this story on Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinatti) just to keep a team, and finally the fact that all of local California governments are up to their ears in debt & face huge fiscal challenges in the coming years. For many those are just ancillary issues that don’t really push the needle in terms of views & listeners. It’s easier just to focus on how the city is making the team bad even though Oakland has been so good to the Athletics in the past. Hell even I get tired sometimes of having to defend why baseball can still work in Oakland when everyone keeps saying San Jose is the way to go. Last time I checked, San Jose wasn’t getting listed in the NY Times Top 45 places to go in 2012, doing its part to help to revitalize Bay Area Hip Hop like Oakland is, or being the coolest city in the Bay. But these are things you never here about because they don’t support the narrative of moving the team to a new shiny place because everyone likes hearing about new shiny things.
Have you noticed anything yet during the blame process? No? That sounds about right because that is exactly how A’s Ownership wants it. Remember they’re the little team that could in the small market that can’t even though the Bay Area is the 6th largest media market (the market is made up of SF, Oakland, & San Jose) in terms of TV & Radio. But lately there has been less “could” and a lot more “wait till next season” or better yet “wait till 3 to 4 years from now”. Ownership is in the enviable position of being the “poor rich guys who have to deal with an outdated stadium and need the public to pay for a new one or we will move” side of the argument. Which unfortunately, a lot of media outlets seem to coo over as the “Right” side of the argument. Yet still, ownership isn’t blamed as much as Major League Baseball is blamed for dragging their feet on the stadium issue but I’m digressing. Here’s my question, if the owners side is the right side of the argument why aren’t they held to the same standards that fans and the city are? Why aren’t they asked why they haven’t tried to make the team better minus the excuses? Why aren’t they making the in game experience better in spite of the stadium? Or how about this, why are they not just trying?
I never hear any major media outlets ever question ownership on why they haven’t tried to work with the city to make upgrades to the Coliseum or why they constantly bash the area and community and talk about how they can’t win there and how the area is dead. Only local writers like Monte Poole and Ray Ratto seem to be willing to go out and put the onus on ownership for putting a bad product on the field but even those 2 voices are few and far between. Maybe it has to do with not biting the hand that feeds you, which I totally understand, but if that is the case keep it real and stop blaming the fans for not going out and not supporting an inferior product that has been purposely placed on the field. Stop blaming fans for not supporting a team that doesn’t even try to keep any home grown or acquired talent for longer than their arbitration years and through Free-Agency. Or how about at least try and keep some players on the team that fans will recognize when opening day rolls around so that they don’t feel duped by buying a jersey or merchandise with a player they started to like. Why should fans invest in a team that the owner’s seemingly don’t even care about? Why invest in the front of the jersey when owners have tried to do everything in their power to say that the front is bad and even the names on the back don’t matter that much?
All of this has been ownership’s own doing and will continue into the foreseeable future as long as they continue to pine for what they can’t have and ignore what is right in front of them in Oakland. Wolff and Fisher have only themselves to blame for low attendance numbers, banners blasting them in the right field bleachers, and a waning fan-base. It’s not the fan’s fault for voting with their wallets and not mindlessly spending on a team who’s ownership group blasts them every chance they get and scream to the heavens “See we can’t do it in Oakland!” even when they are seemingly ill prepared for a move to San Jose, just look at that hanging E.
They knew exactly what they were planting when they took over the Oakland A’s and started the slow and methodical dismantling of the Oakland fan base for an unrealized future in San Jose. The problem is, what they were hoping to sow in San Jose has already died on the proverbial vine and they should be prepared for another long “No New Stadium” harvest. Or they could always just sell and cut their “Profits” since they don’t seem very interested in maximizing those at all.
*Featured photo by Stephen Chow (www.stephenchowphoto.com)
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