A’s Escape From California, but for All the Wrong Reasons

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

 I want to see people escape from California as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his henchmen have been busy making the state unlivable for quite some time now, and their efforts have borne fruit as the California Socialist Republic is experiencing an unprecedented decline in population. Against that backdrop, I assumed for a long time that when the Oakland Athletics (which is nominally a major league baseball team) were making rumblings about moving to Las Vegas, it was because woke bureaucrats in Oakland were entangling the team’s efforts to build a new stadium in a forest of bureaucratic red tape, thus demonstrating their contempt for something so bourgeois as professional sports. I was wrong.


Perhaps in a last-ditch effort to do something, anything, to save a city that is dying by their own hand, Oakland officials have made a good-faith attempt to keep the A’s. A’s ownership and management, on the other hand, have made secret deals, broken their word, and demonstrated a consistent scorn for their fan base.

The story of the A’s move to Las Vegas is one of corporate contempt for ordinary Americans, with the A’s management behaving more like the tyrants of the Biden regime or Big Tech than like patriots yearning to get out of the once-Golden State just so they could breathe free. Athletics owner John Fisher and president Dave Kaval have behaved so badly in all this that they make Oakland’s left-of-Stalin mayor, Sheng Thao, into the hero of the story.

ESPN told the whole nauseating story Tuesday in a massive, nearly 7,000-word article that goes into immense detail about how the A’s management, while cynically adopting “Rooted In Oakland” as a slogan and putting up a pretense of negotiating with the city of Oakland for a new ballpark, secretly entered into a binding agreement with Las Vegas to move the team there. The article opens with Thao getting a call from Kaval, who cavalierly told her at a time when she thought that the team and the city were still in negotiations, “Hey, just a heads-up. Somebody leaked to the press that we have a binding deal with Vegas.”

This completely blindsided Thao, who had engaged in exhaustive negotiations with the A’s and had even told her chief of staff, shortly before Kaval’s call came in, “I really think we’re going to get this over the finish line.” What’s more, says ESPN, Kaval’s call “came after no breakdown in talks, no stalled process, no contentious back and forth.” Fisher and Kaval were keeping up negotiations with Oakland just to avoid a media firestorm while taking concrete steps to seal the deal with Las Vegas as quickly as possible.


That wasn’t their only pretense. The major deception of Fisher and Kaval was to pretend that the Oakland Athletics were still a major league baseball team while operating it as if it were a minor league outfit solely in the business of supplying actual major league teams with players. Back in the ’50s, the Kansas City Athletics (yes, the A’s are a nervous franchise; Vegas will be their fourth city, a first for an ostensible major league team) had a secret deal with the New York Yankees that saw the A’s best players routinely sent to New York in their prime in exchange for the Yankees’ spare parts, has-beens, and never-weres.

Everyone in baseball who knows about that denounces it now, but Fisher and Kaval have operated the Oakland A’s in the same way: as a farm club not just for one major league team, but for all of them. Several times now, they have built a championship-caliber team, only to trade their best players or let them sign elsewhere, as the billionaire Fisher repeatedly and outrageously claimed that he was too poor to pay them what other teams could pay them.

Now we know the real reason why Fisher was doing that. Fisher wanted to get out of town. A healthy fan base (as the A’s once had — the 1990 American League championship team drew nearly three million fans) posed an obstacle to his case for relocation, so he had to destroy it by repeatedly savaging his own product.

This year’s team is one of many examples of the fruits of his labors: the A’s field a team of retreads, nobodies, and sad sacks and have the worst record in baseball. They also have the lowest attendance in major league baseball, and that was the objective all along: Fisher and Kaval build quality teams, get rid of their good players, field lousy teams, and attendance drops. Then they point to the low attendance and claim that Oakland can’t support a major league team. Well, maybe if it had one, we would know for sure.


Related: Hope for America: Oakland Athletics Fans Strike Back Against the Elites

Major League Baseball is in on the dirty game Fisher and Kaval are playing. When A’s fans held a “Reverse Boycott” to show that whatever the problem is in Oakland, it isn’t a lack of a fan base, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred commented acidly, “It’s great to see what is, this year, almost an average Major League Baseball crowd in the facility for one night.” Clearly, the fix is in: the baseball magnates want to leave Oakland and move the A’s to Vegas, and so it shall be.

Loyalty to long-suffering fans? A good-faith, honest effort to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal? Come on, man! That’s the old America. The new America is the one where big corporations do what they please, and their loyal customers can go to hell: just look at Bud Light. The Bud Light boycott worked, at least in making Anheuser-Busch suffer, but a boycott would be just what John Fisher and Dave Kaval want for the A’s. They want Oakland fans to stay away so they can get richer. And as an Oakland A’s fan since 1971, I can say that now that this dirty deal is done, there are even more reasons to stay away.


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