A fan’s connection to players is one of the fun and exciting parts of being a sports fan. We wear their jersey, cheer their names and feel pride when they receive accolades like all-star appearances and MVP awards.
When a player gets drafted, stays with the team and has a successful career, they can essentially become synonymous with the team.
Personally, I am incredibly guilty of getting overly attached to individual players. I usually end up picking one or two players on the teams I root for and become obsessed. Their accomplishments become my accomplishments.
While connecting to players is one of the most exciting parts of being a sports fan for me, I do have one issue with it, and that is that I am cursed the fact that I am an Oakland A’s fan.
I get it, the team has no money and Billy Beane is a statistical genius and knows what to do right? He even had a movie made about him, he can’t be wrong. The A’s have had winning seasons and playoff appearances despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the league and an owner that refuses to put anything into the team.
But, like clockwork, the team’s core is constantly in rotation.
I can’t stand it. Seeing my favorite players let go and traded away left in for prospects that might not even play in the majors hurts.
The A’s essentially became a farm team for teams with higher payrolls. Every time a rookie or young player who didn’t get a chance to play somewhere else started performing well on the A’’s, every fan knew that it was only a matter of time before they were going to be traded away or given a big contract from another team.
The Yankees and their enormous payroll continually plucked players like Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez after fans got attached to them. Not only did players leave but us fans have had to watch them succeed and win on other teams. Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, two-thirds of the early 2000s big three, won World Series rings with the Giants and Josh Donaldson won American League MVP the year after the A’s traded him.
As A’s fans, what have we got in exchange for seeing our favorite players leave? A few winning winning seasons and first round exits. It really seems like a never ending cycle of bad team which slightly improves, finally has a winning season, then get rid of everyone good. Rince and repeat.
This isn’t even a problem all low payroll teams have had to deal with. The Pirates have held onto Andrew McCutchen and the Rays shelled out money for Evan Longoria to stay until 2022, for example. These teams, like the A’s, are usually in the bottom-10 payrolls and have been able to have a few successful years while holding on to their star players. So why can’t the A’s?
Despite the fact that Billy Beane somehow still gets praise as a general manager (Moneyball?), he has made being a fan of his team both difficult and painful. The few semi-successful years don’t make up for the fact that he has created a team where you might be better off buying a custom jersey with the name “player to be named later” or unnamed prospect than any active player on the team.
For fun, here is a starting lineup and starting pitching staff made up of players who started their careers on the A’s before being traded or let walk in free agency:
1B Jason Giambi
2B Mark Ellis
3B Eric Chavez/Josh Donaldson
SS Miguel Tejada
LF Nick Swisher/Josh Reddick
CF Carlos González
RF Yoenis Céspedes
SP Barry Zito
SP Tim Hudson
SP Mark Mulder
SP Gio Gonzalez
SP Soon to be Sonny Gray
CL Huston Street
As frustrating as it is watching the A’s front office do what they do to the team, I can’t help but root for the team I grew up with. All I can do is hope one day we keep a solid player after they become a star or actually decided to start spending money on players.
Contact Rafael Botello at [email protected].