Have the A’s changed for the better?
From 2005-2016, former owner Lew Wolff ran the Oakland Athletics more like a business, rather than a sports team. His method had two major components. Keep overhead and labor cost down to increase profits and hire leaders to maximize production at low cost. Wolff understood that as long as he had some good seasons sprinkled in with the bad ones, it would give fans enough hope to continue their support of the team. Case in point, three division titles and four playoff appearances in 11 years.
Former General Manager and newly appointed Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane used sabermetrics to draft and acquire players who fit the formula. This was illustrated in the highly successful movie “Moneyball”, starring Brad Pitt. As mentioned before, this method made Wolff and partner John Fisher a lot of money in the process.
Unfortunately, keeping labor cost down and profits up involved some practices many fans didn’t agree with. For example, no effort was made from management to resign star players to long-term contracts and/or trading away young talent to avoid paying them in the future. If you don’t believe me, take a look around the league. You’ll find several players playing for other teams who started their careers with Oakland. From Nick Swisher and Barry Zito to Gio Gonzalez and Josh Donaldson, the list goes on. These moves lead to many years of frustration and negativity from people outside of the Athletics organization. Not to mention, the lack of upgrades at O.co Coliseum has always been a sore subject for fans as well. Please, don’t get me started on the sewage issues.
Now, Fisher appointed Dave Kaval this past offseason as new the President of the Oakland Athletics with one goal in mind; build a new stadium in Oakland. Kaval was successful in his last project when he masterminded the new stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2015. Kaval and the team have made major strides in their efforts to keep the team in Oakland and build the stadium the area deserves.
In the meantime, Kaval has improved the existing stadium for the fans. The opening of Championship Plaza, the area between Oracle Arena and the Coliseum, for designated home games has given the visitors an upgraded experience. From various food trucks, music, and games to play, fans have the chance to enjoy more than just the game itself. Kaval also understands the importance of connecting past teams and players to present time. For instance, the Athletics named the field after Hall of Famer and Bay area legend, Rickey Henderson.
Kaval, in his short period of time, has instilled new hope in fans that the old mentality is gone and the new way is here to stay. Do you believe the hype under the new leadership or do you think the team will stay with their cheap ways? Let me know what you think in the comments below.