The slogan is “Rooted in Oakland.”
The Oakland A’s adopted it as the Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors were planning to bounce from the East Bay to more plush homes in Las Vegas and San Francisco. As those three adopted, carefully crafted words insinuated, the A’s were Oakland’s real home team – the team that wouldn’t leave the city or its loyal fanbase for a better setup.
Except, even while the catch phrase was being shaped, A’s brass was looking to set itself up for a move. Or at least the threat of a move so that the city of Oakland would foot the bill for a new ballpark and surrounding development – a bill that is estimated to be around $12 billion, and a deal that has been trashed by some local media because it would be funded by future tax revenues and not the organization.
A’s majority owner John Fisher – a man worth $3 billion by Forbes’ count and among the richest MLB owners – and his brass are even finalizing a list of possible Las Vegas sites for a new ballpark. Meanwhile, the A’s are continuing to operate like a poor team as it plans to sell off its best players rather than paying them market value.
“This is the cycle for the A’s,” GM David Forst told MLB insider Jon Heyman on Tuesday. “We have to listen and be open to whatever comes out of this. This is our lot in Oakland until it’s not.”
Oakland missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons in 2021, and returning key players for 2022 would give them a legitimate chance to return to the postseason next year. But that’s not how the A’s operate.
The first sign of this run ending came last week when popular manager Bob Melvin, who was under contract with the A’s, was allowed to take the San Diego Padres job. Not only that, but the A’s, the team always pinching pennies, didn’t even ask for compensation.
The cycle is familiar, but still infuriating for fans. The team develops or finds top-level players, make the playoffs a few times, then comes the massive selloff that disappoints the paying customers who help generate the team’s revenue.
It’s understandably maddening that the team is now looking to shed its best pitchers and hitters, which could include American League MVP threat Matt Olson and fan favorite Matt Chapman.
So, about that whole “Rooted in Oakland” thing. It doesn’t appear those roots run too deep, especially not for the players who’ve by now come to expect that they won’t finish their careers in Oakland no matter how good they’ve played in green and gold. And they’re often dealt away before they even hit big-money free agency.
It makes it difficult for fans to get too attached to the team’s most popular players. It makes ownership and executives incredibly unpopular. And it leaves Oakland with a tenuous hold on the team that has spent the last five seasons telling everyone it was “rooted” there.
The shameful thing is, aside from fans always feeling duped by constant roster turnover or rising ticket prices, if the A’s were to ever commit long-term to any of these teams that made postseason runs, maybe they would have already won a World Series or two in this century.
Instead, the team has put profits over winning and loyalty, even while telling the city’s residents that the franchise was theirs to invest in. The A’s weren’t the Raiders. They weren’t the Warriors. They were Oakland’s own, not about to chase the dollars in a more lucrative zip code.
But as this offseason moves forward and the team’s players move on and the franchise keeps threatening to relocate, “Rooted in Oakland” is just another thing fans can’t take seriously when it comes to the A’s.