The A’s could learn from B’s about honoring Oakland baseball

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One franchise is worth $1.18 billion. The other is worth $6 million.

One franchise has been in Oakland for 56 years. The other for seven months.

So, why is it that the A’s are acting like petulant children with fingers in their ears saying, ‘LAH-LAH-LAH!’ while the B’s are acting like the adults in the room?

2024 marks the only season where the A’s and B’s will co-exist in Oakland. While the B’s have been open to acknowledging the A’s impact on the Oakland community since 1968, the A’s plow forward to Uncle Vivek’s while turning a blind eye to reality for one of baseball’s greatest franchises.

Obviously, the Ballers are in position to have a lot more fun in this situation, as the A’s are getting run out of town. But A’s owner John Fisher and president Dave Kaval were the ones who fostered the mob.

I think everything changed on the night of May 24, 2021.

The A’s opened up a homestand against the Seattle Mariners, entering the evening with a 28-20 record atop the American League West. Mark Canha led off, Matt Olson batted cleanup, followed by Jed Lowrie and Matt Chapman. Around the bottom of the fourth inning, Kaval sent out this tweet from the Vegas Golden Knights playoff game at T-Mobile Center on The Strip:

To that point, Kaval had built a reputation of being the happy-go-lucky team president who tweeted like a fan, saying BOOM 💥💥 after every big A’s play. This dispatch from the desert felt like instant betrayal, as Kaval pulled a Harvey Dent, showing his true face featuring a charred half of deceit and lies.

A few minutes later, Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic mashed a solo shot off Frankie Montas, setting up Seattle for a 4-2 victory. But the A’s and Kaval lost a lot more that night. They lost their dignity.

Perhaps Kaval felt it was more important to appeal to hypothetical Vegas fans 10 years in the future. Perhaps he felt he could spur the Oakland City Council into action for a Howard Terminal term sheet before that summer’s recess. Alas, Kaval just supplied another pitchfork for the angry village.

Since then, the A’s have given a 101 class on how to burn bridges with a loyal fan base. On Feb. 28, Kaval sent out another tone-deaf tweet claiming, “The 2024 season will be a celebration of our fifty plus years in Oakland! See you at the ballpark!” along with a photo of the new stadium mural that was designed in 4 minutes on MS Paint.

Well, have you seen Dave at the ballpark? And there’s certainly been no “celebration,” beyond the classic Coliseum victory song.

The A’s are starting to bring back old players like Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and the 1974 World Series winning squad for “Alumni Sundays,” but beyond that haven’t acknowledged the franchise’s majestic history in Oakland. Hell, they even instructed stadium workers to NOT display Oakland merchandise and signs around the stadium.

Ditto for the TV broadcast crew at NBC Sports California, which is just pretending like it’s another ho-hum season at the ol’ Coliseum. Since the Sacramento news broke in April, every broadcast team that has come through Oakland or hosted the A’s has done some sort of tribute to the Coliseum and all the history that has occurred on that sacred diamond.

Last Dive Bar recently shared this tribute from the Royals broadcast during Thursday’s matinee.

The A’s TV crew? Not so much.

NBC Sports California is being a good partner. I’m guessing they’ve been directed to keep hush-hush about the whole “reality of the situation” thing. I can’t recall a single Coliseum or Oakland tribute that they’ve done during a game broadcast. At this point, they’re probably worried of the backlash they’d receive, a la Kaval’s tweet from February.

Perhaps the only acknowledgment of the situation came on June 6 at the F— John Fisher Fest, when Chris Caray and Dallas Braden made a slight reference to the “SELL THE TEAM!” chants that broke out in the fifth inning.

At some point, you have to think the A’s will have to pull their head out of the sand to get up to Sacramento. 

It wasn’t always this bad in Oakland. It used to be glorious.

The A’s, of course, went to three straight World Series from 1988-90, winning The ‘Ship in 1989, drawing nearly 3 million fans in each the 1990 and 1991 seasons, while leading MLB in player payroll in ‘91. And we had a view of the Oakland hills in center field.

The central figure to the second golden age of Oakland baseball was former owner Walter A. Haas Jr., the antithesis to Fisher.

Nowadays, the Ballers are helping keep Haas’ legacy alive. And they’re not shying away from the A’s history in Oakland … like, uh, the A’s are doing.

The B’s recently announced their first round of investing, as they raised roughly $2 million from 53 individuals. In a nod to the 1989 World Series title won by the A’s, the B’s set the investment minimum to $8,900.

Among the investors are Haas’ grandson, Jesse Eisenhardt, and Jennifer C. Haas, who is the daughter of Walter’s cousin, Peter.

“I meet fans all the time who have fond memories of my family’s involvement with the A’s,” Jesse Eisenhardt said in a statement. “It makes me proud to see the legacy that my grandfather created. He set a standard for how owners of sports teams can be responsible stewards of such a critical community asset.”

Damn, that’s refreshing to read. Imagine an Oakland owner actually giving a shit.

“At opening night, and the subsequent games I have attended, the positive atmosphere and community feel were palpable,” Jennifer C. Haas said. “By investing in the Ballers and West Oakland, I am continuing my family’s long standing tradition of community involvement and supporting the Bay Area.”

Kudos to the Haas family. And kudos to the B’s.

This inclusion of the Haas family is just one nod to the A’s history that the Ballers have made. They recently introduced Scrappy the Possum, their mascot in reference to the possum that has commandeered the Coliseum press box over the years. On June 29, the B’s are letting Last Dive Bar take over Raimondi Park to honor the history of the Oakland Coliseum. They show videos on the big screen that recognize the A’s tradition in The Town.

Again, why is an upstart indy ball club better at this than the big league billionaire franchise?

At least one member of the Finley family approves, too. Charlie O. Finley brought the A’s to Oakland from Kansas City in 1968 and his cousin, Carl, to be the general manager. Carl’s grandson, Morgan, grew up at the Coliseum and always loved hearing the stories from his grandpa and Uncle Charlie.

On opening night for the Ballers, Morgan Finley sipped on a tall can of Modelo while taking in the sounds of the drummers in the left field bleachers at Raimondi Park.

“My worst fear was – when the A’s went away – Oakland would effectively scatter,” he said. “Instead, it’s like coalesced around another team. That’s fuckin’ proof right there that this fandom is here to stay. It will find teams to rally behind, because The Bay is that awesome. I’m actually really stoked on this.”

For all the fun, intimate and old-school vibes at Raimondi, the wound is fresh and yet to scab over.

At Ballers opening night, a few minutes before the first pitch, co-founder Bryan Carmel addressed the crowd from the pitcher’s mound.

“We started this team because we were completely heartbroken that that other team decided they wanted to leave town,” Carmel said to a chorus of boos. “We just felt like, this couldn’t be the end of baseball in Oakland.”

If you sit out in the bleachers with the Oakland 68s in right field at Raimondi Park, Fisher’s shadow still looms. After every Ballers run, the fans chant, “We love you Oak-land! We do! We love you Oak-land! We do! We love you Oak-land, we do! Ohhhhh, Oak-land we love you!”

And they cap it off with, “Not you, John Fisherrrrrr!!” 

At this point it’s almost a Pavlovian response to the drum beat and chant, as they traditionally would heckle the opposing right fielder at the Coliseum and say, “Not you, Juan Sotoooooo!!”

The dreams and the nightmares of A’s past still haunt. Kaval and Fisher have fallen asleep at the wheel. At this point, they might not ever wake up before the car crash takes them off the freeway.

At least the Ballers are there to pick up A’s fans and give ‘em a ride.

For the ones who still care, the loss and grief of the A’s probably won’t dissipate for years. But the coping process could be helped next year when the Ballers bring baseball back to the Coliseum, as they would like to play Father’s Day and/or July 4 games at the historic Oakland field.

Of course, nothing can bring back Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson, or even Brent Rooker back to the Coliseum in 2025. It won’t be the same. But A’s fans should take some solace in knowing the B’s are the next stewards of Oakland baseball.

They’re doing it right. They care about the right things. And they’re building something special at Raimondi Park.

So come on out and enjoy the old-school bleachers. The drums. The Ballers Love Hazy IPA. The skyline views. The firefighters killing time by sitting on the truck beyond the left field fence. The hot dogs from Mike The Hot Dog Mayor. The postgame fried oreos from the family’s garage down the street.

The Town ain’t dead just yet.


  • Harry Bruno

    Hello Alex,

    Thank you (and Hal the Hot Dog Guy, Brad, etc.) for your unwavering support of the Oakland Athletics’ fans, the Athletics’ organization, and Major League Baseball in Oakland (and Las Vegas). Your RickeyBlog is “must viewing” around our home. We so appreciate everything you and your RickeyBlogsters have done and are doing!

    Alex, we are presented with the once-in-a-lifetime, truly regional/national/international historic opportunity to forever cement Oakland’s place in Major League Baseball when…Manager Mark Kotsay and the Oakland A’s management on September 1, 2024, sign and call up/add to their September Major League roster, Oakland’s true Hall-of-Famer…Rickey Henderson!!!

    One of my three sons directed me to page 376 of Howard Bryant’s biography aptly entitled, “Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American (and Oakland) Original!” On page 376 Rickey discusses the fact he has never retired from Major League Baseball “because he feels there are teams out there that can use (his) help.” That quote took place in a discussion involving none other than Mark Kotsay (before Mark became the A’s Manager)! When everyone looks at Rickey today, they marvel that he still “looks like he can play Major League Baseball.”

    HOWARD BRYANT’s “Rickey” Page 376:

    “No. It’s baseball. The World Baseball Classic.”
    Rickey asked Idelson,
    «Can I play?” He was 60 years old, and indeed he intended to play forever- but not at the cost of immortality. He then whispered to Idelson: Would playing in the WBC affect his Hall of Fame chances?
    “Chances?” a confounded Idelson said. “What chances? You’re already in.” As of July 2021, 22,467 players had appeared in a Major League Baseball game, and no position player who began his career in the 20th century had played more seasons than the legendary Rickey Henderson. Mark Kotsay, an A’s instructor and Rickey’s former teammate in San Diego, had heard a lot about the Rickey legend. As a young center fielder, Kotsay once played between Rickey in left and Tony Gwynn in right-that’s 6,196 combined hits if you’re scoring at home. Kotsay had heard all the stories, like the time Rickey was sitting in the seat on the team bus reserved for Gwynn, the greatest of the Padres. When Gwynn boarded and saw Rickey in his seat, the other players started to tell Rickey the rules–that was Tony Gwynn’s seat. Gwynn was unaffected. “It’s okay” Gwynn said. “Rickey’s got tenure.”
    “Tenure?” Rickey said. “Rickey’s got sixteen years.” It was another of those stories repeated so many times that it was passed off as fact, and it might have been, but it also very easily could have been another apocryphal Rickey story. Kotsay reminded Rickey of one fact that was indeed true: Rickey never actually retired from baseball. Having never filed the retirement papers required by the league, Rickey never appeared on baseball’s voluntarily retired list-and technically that made Rickey Nelson Henley Henderson, age 61, an eligible free agent. Nodding his head in proud affirmation, older than all but four managers in the game at the time, Rickey confirmed it: he hadn’t officially quit, even though he hadn’t appeared in a big-league game in nearly two decades. Pamela knew it was true, because at home Rickey would still express surprise that the phone no longer rang. “He couldn’t understand it. He could still run. He still has his reflexes. He still has his eye at the plate, and he thinks he can do better than some of these guys making $50 million?”

    Rickey is truly “Oakland’s Own” and would be such an unbelievably welcome September 2024 roster addition to the Oakland Athletics as a team, the A’s fan base, A’s management, the City of Oakland/Northern California in general, Major League Baseball fans everywhere (especially including Sacramento, Utah, and Las Vegas), and on and on. The Major League history books would be completely rewritten to show Rickey as the only Major Leaguer to play in five decades (breaking the current four decades tie between Rickey and Minnie Minoso), if Rickey (as a pinch runner or a hitter) steals a base he adds to his Major League record total, if Rickey scores a run he adds to his Major League record total, if Rickey hits a leadoff homer he adds to his current Major League record total, if Rickey makes a “snap catch” of a pop fly ball to left field the stadium will absolutely erupt,…basically anything Rickey does will break records! Imagine being a player on the Oakland A’s roster during the last month in Oakland and you find yourself sitting in the same dugout as the legendary Rickey Henderson! This unique opportunity to see Rickey one more time in the green and gold will completely electrify Major League Baseball during the final month of an otherwise dispirited season for the Oakland A’s.

    Oakland A’s fans have always loved their own Rickey and would truly love selling out the Oakland Coliseum in September 2024 just to catch a glimpse and cheer for the person voted greatest player in the Athletics’ storied history while he was playing on Rickey Henderson Field! I can envision a photo op with Rickey in his 2024 A’s uniform standing next to his Hall of Fame number up on Mt. Davis/The ALps). I’m going to do everything possible to see that my three adult sons (born and raised in Hayward/Castro Valley) now all living at least 3,000 miles from the Bay Area, join me at the Oakland Coliseum to cheer our beloved Rickey (and the Oakland A’s) one more time!

    Alex, I believe you are the one person who can be the catalyst with your RickeyBlog’s myriad of connections to make this historic event happen! We know from the Howard Bryant book (condensed above) that Rickey still wants to play (and can play), that Mark Kotsay agrees that Rickey is the one person who could do this amazing feat, and that Oakland (the fans, the franchise, the area, & Major League Baseball) truly needs the morale boost this historic September call-up will bring! Even the current A’s Ownership and Management will love a sold-out Oakland Coliseum during September 2024 to show the true value of this franchise to a community (be it Oakland, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Utah, wherever). I read where Rickey is currently the Special Assistant to the President (David Kaval) and I saw a video clip of Rickey batting in Tokyo Stadium during the A’s overseas trip to Japan in 2019! I’ve also heard the discussions that the new MLB rules restricting a pitcher from repeatedly trying to hold the runner at first base would create a “field day” for an accomplished base stealer like Rickey Henderson…well, now we’d have the opportunity to see that scenario in real time.

    If the Rickey call-up for the entire month of September 2024 proves to be too ambitious, then sign Rickey for the final A’s weekend series ever at the Oakland Coliseum (Friday thru Sunday September 20, 21, & 22), against the New York Yankees! The Friday night September 20th game is already designated as “Rickey Henderson Bobblehead Giveaway!” At
    Rickey Henderson Weekend we have Rickey re-sign with the Oakland A’s on Friday in a highly publicized signing at the Oakland Coliseum before the game and then goes to take his place in the pre-game warmups and sit in the A’s dugout to “play” in the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games, culminating in his glorious retirement ceremony in front of his adoring Oakland fans at the conclusion of Sunday’s game. Rickey could pinch-run, pinch-hit, designate hit, be a fielding replacement, etc. Alex, could you imagine the thunderous moment during Friday night’s game when it’s the bottom of the eighth inning, the A’s are down 7-2 to the Yankees, the first A’s hitter in the inning hits a single and Manager Mark Kotsay signals for a pinch runner at first base…and Rickey Henderson, Major League Baseball’s all-time Man Of Steal, emerges from the A’s dugout and begins jogging to first base? WOW! 🤩 Our beloved Oakland Coliseum will forever become Major League Baseball’s real “Field of Dreams” after that weekend. To quote Joe Biden from 2008, “It’s storybook, Man!”

    Alex, if you and the RickeyBlog participants can publicize this idea and get everyone (including A’s management like President Dave Kaval) anticipating and talking about this, I believe we’ll create the most unbelievable opportunity to experience our own, real-life “Field of Dreams” moment! I am also attaching a hyperlink (below) which shows about six minutes of Rickey’s greatest moments at the Oakland Coliseum…just think, in two months we can add new experiences to that tape!

    Thank you for taking the time to read this idea. If you want to contact me to discuss this further my cellphone/text is: (510) 388-8701, and personal email is: Go A’s! Go Rickey!


    Harry Bruno (and the Bruno Family)

    P.S. The video hyperlink is:

    P.P.S. I think Hal the Hot Dog Guy and you will appreciate this news article below from two years ago:

    Can the bore of modern baseball be fixed? Rickey would have as good a shot as anyone

    Oakland Athletics legend Rickey Henderson the subject of new biography by Howard Bryant
    By JERRY MCDONALD | | Bay Area News Group
    PUBLISHED: June 10, 2022 at 7:15 a.m. | UPDATED: June 10, 2022 at 2:09 p.m.

    What baseball needs is something it had for a quarter of a century but never truly appreciated.

    It needs Rickey Henderson.

    That’s only one of the takeaways that comes from a biography eight years in the making from author Howard Bryant about an enigmatic Hall of Famer who is truly rooted in Oakland.

    “Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original” is a fascinating read on many levels, starting with Henderson’s arrival in Oakland from Arkansas with his family as part of the “Great Migration” of Black people leaving the South in hopes of better opportunity and a more level playing field.

    • Alex Espinoza

      wow thank you so much for such a nice comment, just seeing this now! I would absolutely love to see Rickey suit up for one final at-bat in Oakland, that’d be amazing!! Thanks again for listening and reading, much appreciated !

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