Spare Parts: Oakland A’s take big step toward Las Vegas

Oakland Coliseum
(Jim Margalus / Sox Machine)

Whether you’re looking for a conclusion to the Oakland A’s ballpark saga or a path for Major League Baseball expanding to 32 teams, the first official step has been taken toward each.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Oakland ownership group signed a binding purchase agreement for 49 acres just west of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s the most significant development in relocating the franchise after a score’s worth of attempts to get Oakland to publicly finance a replacement for the Coliseum, and a few years of giving up on the fan base.

It’s a shame, because the recent scenes in Oakland — most notably the four-figure attendance totals and the opossum inhabiting the visiting team’s TV booth — obscure what had been one of baseball’s liveliest environments whenever the A’s had promise. The Coliseum inadvertently helped create that charm, because nobody went to there to enjoy the amenities. The people who showed up were there to watch the A’s, and when you had 40,000 of those people in the unmistakable green and gold combinations firing each other up, it made for great television.

I visited the Coliseum for the first (only?) time in 2019 for an ordinary midweek A’s-Rays game, and even though it drew only 16,126, you could still sense where fans directed their attention, because thanks to Mount Davis blocking what had been a great backdrop, there was nowhere else to look. I sat down the left-field line by the Oakland bullpen, watching fans and relievers interact over the course of the evening like they were watching the game together. Liam Hendriks in particular seemed like a cool guy.

Time marches on, populations shift and some markets just get left behind. Baseball history is littered with such examples, and just because it hadn’t happened in a while doesn’t mean the game had advanced past requiring such “corrections.” But as I mentioned in my review of the Coliseum, losing the Oakland A’s definitely makes baseball less democratic. They’ll be moving from a 46,000- to 56,000-seat monstrosity where you could effectively pay what you wanted and make your own fun, to a 30,000-seat ballpark that leverage the scarcity to maximize the dollar value extracted from whoever shows up.

Oakland fans had devised a reverse boycott for mid-June to show everybody that the market wasn’t the problem, and even though this news probably dulls any impact, I still hope they show up to offer at least one more reminder of what baseball will miss. Considering the A’s are the Opposite Rays — 3-16 instead of 16-3 and trailing the league in just about every category — another postseason run isn’t going to be in the cards.

Spare Parts

Marc Carig’s column spoke to me, because while I had no connection to the Bay Area, the A’s were the first baseball team I gravitated toward because of all the players who were fun to imitate in the backyard.

For me, there was no cultural translation needed to appreciate Rickey, or Dave Stewart, or Dennis Eckersley, or the Bash Brothers, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. They made a very difficult game look very easy, and for the first time I had something I could talk about at school. Through the years, my brother and I went to more games together than we could count. My family used to attend Opening Day. I’ve spent some of the greatest days of my life in that ballpark. And I wasn’t alone.

Set Betteridge’s Law of Headlines aside and focus more on how this story digs into how Jake Burger went about “creating a floor in the strike zone” to attack his weakness of low strikes and lower non-strikes.

Carlos Rodón’s March was disrupted by a forearm strain, and his April has been disrupted by a back issue he suffered while rehabbing his forearm strain. The problem originally surfaced a couple weeks ago, and it’s still “barking” on him.

As I mentioned in Thursday’s post about Andrew Vaughn, José Abreu is off to one of his slow starts in Houston, but unlike last April, the contact quality isn’t there, and Abreu’s plate discipline has also swung the wrong way. Dan Szymborski says these developments “are consistent with an aging hitter with declining bat speed,” and if this ends up being the decline that sticks, it won’t be the White Sox’s problem.

Speaking of Hendriks, he announced on Thursday that he’s officially cancer-free. Now everybody involved has to figure out what he might be able to offer the rest of the season. While there aren’t many precedents, Ethan Katz said there might be something to learn from 2022, when Hendriks wasn’t available for his usual multi-inning appearances, and the Sox only had a flexor strain to point to.

“I look back at like every little detail last year that had gone on, and just think about him and what he did do, and maybe he was going through, and no one really knows,” Katz said. “One of my questions was, ‘How long have you been dealing with this?’ And the response that he gave me was, ‘Probably a lot last year.’ So to think that he actually did what he did last year with everything that had been going on, not knowing, to pushing through spring training and doing all kinds of throwing while doing treatment, it’s an incredible story.”

Regardless of what Hendriks can contribute on the field, this might be the best news of the season. Everybody would welcome the rest of the White Sox giving it some real competition.

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dwjm3

Raiders owner Mark Davis blasts Oakland A’s proposed move to Las Vegas (msn.com)

Mark Davis was spitting fire on the A’s ownership group today. I wanted to see that waterfront park happen in Oakland. I’m disappointed it didn’t work out.

ecivokrak

I lived in Oakland 2001-2003 and I went to about a dozen or so games, a few of which included the Sox. It was a terrible environment for baseball structurally speaking, but I do remember the fans were quite spirited (almost scarily so). I’d been to opposing teams’ ballparks before that, but I’d never received so much “attention” (booing, yelling) for wearing my Sox hat while walking down the concourse. (But I haven’t been Yankee Stadium or Fenway.)

I remember one of the gimmicks was 25 cent hotdog night, on Tuesdays, I think. I would skip lunch and eat 6 hotdogs for $1.50.

I also have a memory of a game in which Buehrle loaded the bases in the first inning and then long-forgotten second baseman D’Angelo Jimenez dropped a popup just outside the infield and all three runners scored. My friend who was an A’s fan said, “damn, your team really sucks.” I looked up the game and my memory serves me correct–that’s what happened. What’s more notable is that Mark Mulder won a game that took 1 hour 49 minutes to finish. (I guess Buehrle helped with that, too.)

Last edited 1 year ago by ecivokrak

My favorite A’s player to emulate in the backyard was Carney Lansford. That batting stance was goofy.

BuehrleMan

I was too young to know about the great A’s teams of the early 70s while they were playing but I was always partial to them starting just a few years after that because their postseason exploits were often aired during rain delays.

Boy did they have a bunch of distinctive players. And pitching staffs (staves?) don’t get any more distinctive than Catfish Hunter, Blue Moon Odom, Vida Blue, and Rollie Fingers.

FishSox

TLR visited West Point while Jr was playing there and told a story about Ricky Henderson. He said the first time Ricky got on, he gave him the steal sign and then took it off. Henderson stole second anyway. When he got back to the dugout, he asked Ricky why he stole second and Ricky said, you gave the take off sign, so I took off.

Augusto Barojas

Ricky probably told Tony “Ricky likes to steal.” He used to talk about himself in the 3rd person, was hilarious at times. He was a bit off, but Jesus what a ballplayer.

ChiSoxND12

*Rickey. I hate to be that dork, but i feel like he would call it out himself if he saw it. He deserves proper spelling

OldMMJ87

Here’s something I don’t get if you’re an elected official in Vegas. You have the owner of the A’s who wants to move to your market, but he has also run his franchise and the stadium they play in into the ground in order to be able to do so, how do you know he won’t do the exact same thing when he wants a better lease in the new stadium? Especially in an era when voters are seemingly more dubious of using tax dollars to fund stadiums for billionaires. There’s probably a good reason for them to do it and I’m just too pissed at the A’s owner to see it.

StockroomSnail

That’s probably several elections away.

FishSox

My frustration right now with Grifol is that he appears to not listen to the lessons being taught to him.

He warmed up Graveman in the last game after he’d pitched the day before.

He’s still batting Elroy 4th when he’s show no signs of coming out of his funk and the offense is starving for production.

He keeps going to Diekman in high leverage.

vanillablue

I’ve been to many A’s games, including the 20th consecutive win in 2002 (the Moneyball movie game) and playoff games. Hard to believe now, but 20 years ago, the Bay Area was pretty evenly split between A’s and Giants fans. It’s really a shame that the owner has been allowed to drive the team into the ground and that Manfred is signing off on it. I can’t see how it’s good business for MLB to cede a top 10 media market to a single team in order to put a team in the 40th largest market.

I guess a lesson here is – careful what you wish for. As much as everyone wants new ownership for the Sox, Reinsdorf’s kids could very well sell the team to a carpetbagger who does exactly what John Fisher is doing.

StockroomSnail

They’ve sold their soul to the TV devil. Any place that will build them a free place to empty the pockets of the wealthier poors will do.

Ben

Oakland is where I saw my first MLB game, and is the closest to where I currently live. Gonna have to grab some cheap tickets to bid the Coliseum farewell.

It’s dumb Fisher didn’t just try to develop that site.

ParisSox

Agree with all the sentiments here. Was just wearing my A’s hat this week while doing yard work and recalling the great time I had at the only game I attended there back in April of 2019.

ParisSox

I did a fan post about it which I can’t find now.

Trooper Galactus

I wasn’t a huge sports junkie back in the day, but I still had a Bash Brothers poster on my bedroom wall and was a big Rickey Henderson fan. The A’s captured the national attention in ways other championship teams of that era didn’t (Reds, Twins, Dodgers). For a time even the Moneyball thing gave them a singular charm, but now instead of being a hallmark of their genius it’s become a sad reminder of their cheapness.

roke1960

I’m actually wearing a gold Sal Bando A’s jersey at work today. That Charlie Finley team of the early 70s had so much character, and so many characters!

To Err is Herrmann

And the Dick Allen ’72 White Sox team made a good run at them. Yes, a great dynasty, great players. Tenace, Campaneris, Bando, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman — loaded with talent and personality.