On October 2, 2019, I remember leaving the RingCentral Coliseum after the Wild Card playoff game where the A’s season ended in disappointing fashion. I was sad, but I was also excited for what was to come for the 2020 season.
Many A’s fans, myself included, were really looking forward to this season. This season could have been the tipping point for the team. The team was coming off its second consecutive 97-win season and was heading in the right direction. With a young, dynamic team, the A’s were going to put the league on notice this year and potentially be contenders in the American League. Maybe not World Series contenders, but it would not be unrealistic for one to think so.
However, due to COVID-19, things are not going as planned in 2020 for the A’s, which is unfortunate because this is something that could harm them long-term.
For starters, their plans to open a new ballpark at Howard Terminal for the 2023 season might have to be pushed back. They have yet to get the approval to break ground, therefore delaying the groundbreaking process.
As a fan, this is worrisome because it has been stated by Billy Beane that the team will not be opening up the vault to pay players until a new stadium is built and bringing in revenue. A year or two delay threatens the core of the current team. No new ballpark, or even a delay in construction does not bring in revenue and would make it hard to keep their young players like Olson or Chapman, who both deserve to be paid.
The team also announced furloughs and salary cuts. Other teams have done so as well, such as the Giants, but it’s discouraging that a team planning to spend a lot of money on a new ballpark cannot afford to pay the scouts who helped put together this young, talented team.
Billionaire owner John Fisher has been labeled cheap by fans and the media, and a letter that came out this week pretty much pleads their case of him being cheap. David Frost was the bearer of bad news to the minor league players. In this letter he stated that Fisher had decided to stop paying their minor league players their $400/week.
Those minor league players had a problem with that, as they use that money to live on and were continuing to work out in hopes that the 2020 season could possibly still happen.
A’s prospect Peter Bayer stated that he had lost respect for the organization and that it would be hard to go back to that team and hear about how they care about their minor league players.
Other minor league players were vocal about this as well.
Other people that had once been apart of the Oakland A’s organization chimed in as well.
Then there was the news that came out last week that the A’s were refusing to pay their Coliseum rent because of the COVID-19 shutdown and they were not able to generate any revenue because the ballpark was not available for them to use. I believe that the team will come to some sort of agreement and it will be hashed out. However, regardless of the outcome, it is not a good look for the team.
COVID-19 has negatively impacted every team in the MLB, however, given that the A’s were dependent upon a big year, leads one to believe that this could possibly harm them long-term more than any other team in the league right now.
These are tremendously hard times for A’s fans. This team has become a playoff team over the last couple of years and us fans deserve to watch this young, talented team grow into a serious contender. This team deserved to be talked about in the media in a positive light. Instead, they are in the spotlight in a negative way. Local media suggesting that Fisher bail out and sell the team and whether they are right or wrong, it was not supposed to be like this for the organization.
A depressing read during a depressing time, but I am going to close this by saying that the Oakland A’s will always be my team and I will continue to have faith (easier said than done, I know) that they can get this situation right as soon as possible for their minor league players, for their employees and for anyone else that is being negatively impacted by this situation.