To all Oakland A’s fans,
I hear you.
We hear you.
It’s clear that if there’s anything you love more than your team, it’s criticizing the media on behalf of your team. And while I don’t think all of the wild claims of intentional bias and willful exclusion are founded, I can assure you that the complaints about the perceived lack of A’s coverage on screens, TVs and airwaves are being registered by myself and my peers.
It’s coming through loud and clear.
And without conceding the point to you, let me say this: I empathize with your perceived plight. These A’s are young, outrageously likable, and they play as entertaining a brand of baseball as I’ve seen in a few years. They might have a duct-tape rotation led by a not-quite-ace, but the results since mid-June speak for themselves: this is a team with staying power — a team that you can bet will continue to make noise in October.
A’s fans, you have one hell of a ball club to root for these days.
And with the two most important series of the season to date coming up this week at the Coliseum, my advice — I don’t care if it was solicited or not — is to stop complaining and start recruiting.
Because, like it or not, we in the sports media are followers — we go where the attention is.
The A’s have a chance to bury the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card race during their three-game set starting Monday night, followed by a chance to possibly take over the American League West division lead.
This is a moment.
Do you want every sports-talk station in the Bay to be talking about your team all the time (even KNBR)?
Do you want more than just the tremendous slate of beat guys and gals writing about these A’s?
Do you want NBC Sports California to be forced to create one of those Outsiders shows for the Green and Gold? (Don’t dare them, they’ll do it in a second.)
Then get to the ballpark and bring some friends. Put 30,000 people in the Coliseum against the Mariners. Fill the ugly SOB over the weekend when the Houston Astros come to town. Get behind this team full-throat and show the Bay Area what this A’s fan base looks like when it’s at its most robust.
Because the fact of the matter is that there’s another baseball team with a quasi-dynasty enriched fan base, two NFL teams, and a year-round NBA phenomenon grabbing attention in the Bay Area right now.
These A’s could be something like a phenomenon as well. The team is holding up their end of the bargain — these guys are fun.
It’s time for the fan base to get out to the park and hold up their end.
“Hopefully our fans come out and support us because they give us a big lift when our place is rocking,” A’s manager and soon-to-be American League Manager of the Year Bob Melvin said after Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Angels. “Hopefully that’s the case.”
Now I’m all-in on these A’s, but I’m just one guy (and an unimportant one at that) and I don’t set the budgets. A’s fans, if you’re not happy with the level of conversation surrounding your team, the solution is simple: you need to stage a coup.
It starts with the die-hard A’s fans — the (generously) 10,000 who have stuck with this organization, even after the last few seasons. This deeply enjoyable run must be a blast.
But there are more than 10,000 A’s fans in the Bay Area, right?
Call me naive, but despite all the current evidence to the contrary, I think there’s a strong, viable A’s fan base that can still be revived.
You can’t tell me that the only people with green hats in the Bay Area are the ones who are wearing them every day. After all, I’ve seen that place packed with A’s fans not too long ago. (And no, it wasn’t for that full-house Bay Bridge Series game against the Giants — there was a ton of black and orange in that crowd.)
Surely there have to be thousands with an Eric Chavez jersey still in their closet, waiting for the right time to be worn again.
This is the right time, lapsed A’s fan looking to get back on the wagon.
I won’t speak on ownership or the organization as a whole, but this team — this 25-man roster — deserves great crowds this week. All the excuses about why this undeniably endearing squad can’t get a decent crowd without visiting-team fans or an out-of-this-world fireworks show (I went, as a paying customer, during the last homestand and wow … that fireworks show) don’t hold water anymore.
I’ll do a little recruiting right now: Tickets are cheap, you can take BART to the game, and I would be happy to tell anyone who reaches out where you can get a decent beer. (Email me or DM me — I’d like to keep the lines reasonable.)
So dust off that Chavez jersey — the black one has the most concourse cred — and find a game this week.
Let’s find out how many A’s fans there really are this week.
Sports columnist Dieter Kurtenbach analyzes the amazing and roasts the absurd in the world of sports for the Bay Area News Group and his podcast, the Daily Dieter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @dkurtenbach.