Having been born and raised in the San Francisco East Bay Area (i.e., Oakland), we have a lot of special insight to this issue of the Oakland Athletics and the now seemingly probable move to Las Vegas. We spent a full decade (2009-2017) in MLB press boxes, too, covering the sport for CBS and its smaller, local affiliates. We know things, and we find it really amusing and misguided how so much media coverage focuses on the problem being the ownership. That’s just wrong.
We delineated why about a month ago, and the mediots—and those “fans” who read the mediots—still are ignoring the facts in favor of a mythical narrative that sells better to the masses as clickbait. We’re tired of correcting the misconceptions, so we won’t do so again here. But the reality is … again … that Major League Baseball, led by former Commissioner/coup artist Bud Selig, wanted the S.F. area to be a one-team market as early as 1992.
The team Selig chose for this market was the San Francisco Giants—not the A’s. Perhaps Selig had some bitterness toward the A’s from his days as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. The three AL teams with the best winning percentages against the Brewers during their stay in the AL were Baltimore, Kansas City, and Oakland. Selig couldn’t really stick it to the Orioles or the Royals, could he? So maybe he chose the A’s out of desperation … and situational circumstance.
But that’s just amusing conjecture: Selig probably had hard data that the Giants would do better as the only team in the region, more so than the A’s would, despite the on-the-field history of the two teams at the time greatly favoring Oakland. He’s been proven right, although he gave the Giants organization 17 additional assists, mostly immoral and unethical, to accomplish it. And, it’s more profitable for one team to go to a more-lucrative market to own itself alone.
Selig didn’t think the Giants would do well in Florida, perhaps, while he thought the A’s could do better anywhere else (Charlotte, Portland, and Vegas were always the cities thrown around in this conversation over the years). Now, MLB gets its wish while conveniently steering the narrative blame elsewhere. Remember, after all, that Selig even denied his college buddy who once owned the A’s, Lew Wolff, the chance to move the franchise to San José and Silicon Valley.
San José wanted the A’s, too, but Selig wouldn’t even give his friend the chance, claiming it was the Giants territory—even though former Oakland ownership gave that territory to the Giants in the mid-1990s to help out, and even though Santa Clara County voters said no three different times for public funds to help the Giants move down there, etc., and the Giants never did. See what a mess MLB made of this? And people still are conveniently forgetting facts in the moment.
It gets old; it really does. And when it comes to owning a private business, the A’s ownership group doesn’t owe Oakland anything. If Oakland wanted to keep the A’s—or the football Raiders and the basketball Warriors—it would have. But Oakland doesn’t care about this sort of thing; it has other issues to tackle, and the population demographics in the East Bay changed decades ago … thanks to the explosion of Silicon Valley, the tech industry, and resulting migrations, etc.
So whinge away, A’s fans who never went to games enough even when the club was winning—which it often has, despite low-payroll challenges. How many teams have more playoff appearances this century than the “cheapskate” Athletics? Only the high-spending New York Yankees (19), St. Louis Cardinals (16), Atlanta Braves (14), and Los Angeles Dodgers (14). Yet, of the 7 organizations with double-digit postseasons, the A’s are the only ones to not win a World Series.
The A’s have just as many postseason berths (11) this century as the cheating Boston Red Sox—and more than the cheating Giants (8). Think about that for a second. That’s how good the franchise has been despite glaring fiscal disadvantages. With the team knowing it needed to get out of Oakland, the front office has slashed payroll since just missing the playoffs in 2021, and the result is this terrible team on the field today. But that won’t last, as history shows.
Starting with its time in Philadelphia, the Athletics franchise is one of the best in MLB history, with aforementioned strange highs and strange lows—because that’s how the baseball winds blow. The team probably will flourish in Las Vegas, making MLB owners wealthier (always the focus of Selig and his successor, Rob Manfred) and the players, too. The fans? They’ll keep spending money, and the owners know it—thus making Vegas a prime destination for the sport.
The NHL got the ball rolling in Sin City; the NFL picked up that baton and ran with it. The NBA wants in as well. There’s money to be had in the desert, and the Oakland A’s ownership—with the support of MLB leadership—is going after it. Why criticize business owners for trying to make money? Isn’t this America? Isn’t baseball America’s pastime? The A’s moved from Philly to Kansas City to Oakland in the twentieth century, so moving again is somewhat normal: “Wear it!“