MLB

The A’s are a bus stop for their players

When I was a little kid, I asked my Dad why the A’s and Giants didn’t play each other. He explained that it was only possible in the World Series, since they played in different leagues. But I was always dissatisfied with that truism, and therefore I’ve relished the opportunity to see our local teams go at it in interleague play every season. It’s the only time, albeit a mere four to six games, where the two franchises compete between the lines. Normally the competition is about sponsorships, ad revenue, territorial rights, and emasculating social media arguments.

This weekend’s sweep of the A’s by the Giants in San Francisco is nothing especially new, since neither squad normally fares very well upon visiting the other’s venue. But there was a stench in the air that usually isn’t present, and that was of the rotting corpse that is the A’s 2015 season. The trade winds blew in and carried away the Ship of Hope that a solemn few were still riding – one which believed Oakland could leapfrog nine other teams and grab the second Wild Card spot. Scott Kazmir had been traded to Houston, signifying the final capitulation for the year.

As I have written in this space, I was hoping Kazmir would be dealt. By the time you read this today, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard might also have been traded, as well. These are moves that must be made since the A’s stink and holding on to valuable free agents is an act of abject folly. But when the news arrived that Kazmir’s return from the Astros was an A-ball pitcher and an A-ball catcher, the moaning began in earnest, led by yours truly.

It’s not unreasonable for A’s fans to expect a top-3 prospect in return after Beane gave his away willy-nilly recently. And I find it hilarious that people are gushing over Jake Nottingham, as we’ve seen countless players rake in A-ball and not pan out. Miles Head: white courtesy telephone.

As I baked in the sun yesterday at AT&T Park yesterday, I was struck by something: the Giants have perfected a massive, money-making machine. They built their own park, drafted excellent players and locked them up long-term, made good trades, paid free agents, and now their franchise value has doubled in one year. A 100% increase in value is unheard of, but last week Forbes reported the Giants had jumped from $1 billion to $2 billion in just 12 months. And Giants fans gladly part with loads of cash at every home game to be a part of the fun. The organization seems to have a giveaway item for every game – yesterday it was a hideous cowboy hat that a drunken Kid Rock wouldn’t even wear, but that isn’t the point. The point is that the San Francisco fans are lured in every which way a team can do such a thing, and winning is the number one way to increase that interest.

Meanwhile, you had an A’s team yesterday with guys like Ike Davis, Clippard and Zobrist in the lineup, who were probably expecting to be traded before the game even concluded. Being an Oakland Athletic means you’re at a bus stop, not at a home. The A’s are literally a stepping stone to another team, as they have zero interest in having you stay very long. You will always be looking over your shoulder when you’re on the A’s. The trade, waiver, outright, or DFA transaction is always looming like the Sword of Damocles. If Sonny Gray were a Giant, he’d be signed through his arbitration years. But A’s fans know that Gray will be traded within a year or two for sure. The Giants are like a solid marriage. The A’s are like a summer fling that ends with a nasty break-up. Every damn year.

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