The Oakland Athletics: Perception Versus Reality


Having recently seen the “Final Cut” program produced by Comcast Sportnet California that chronicled the unlikely playoff run by the Oakland Athletics, I got to thinking about not just the simple fact that the season outcome was a surprise, but the confidence with which many buried the A’s before the season even began.  I was optimistic, although I expected nowhere near the kind of success the A’s ended up having.  But as the 2012 season got going, it was clear the A’s were more or less a laughing stock amongst experts and fans alike.  During the open of that program, they played clips from national personalities, and many of our local ones as well, and all of them essentially gave that team less than a snowball’s chance in hell of contending.

Only those in Oakland truly believed this team would reach the heights it did. (Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE)

Of course we all know how those predictions turned out.  But there seems to be some indication that perhaps the A’s success of the 2012 season didn’t quite sink in to many observers.

As well enter the depths of the MLB offseason, and while we wait for somebody to do something (Aside from the Marlins and Blue Jays ofcourse), a lot of speculative chatter takes place in the everyday lives of baseball fans everywhere.  My life is no different.  Working my day job in a coffee shop, I constantly encounter people who have a wide array of opinions on Bay Area baseball, usually San Francisco-centric of course.

It’s tough to say though whether this is due to the fact that their newly beloved Giants won the World Series again, or the ever present “I only follow the National League” attitude (which makes absolutely no sense to me), or if it’s just a general superiority complex, but despite the incredible success of the 2012 season for the Athletics there doesn’t seem to be any new level off respect shown for them.  I’ll readily admit that this is nowhere near a scientific study, and is purely anecdotal, but in the minds of many outside our green-and-gold world the A’s are still that laughing stock team that went to Arizona in February 2012.

I had a conversation a couple days ago with someone who asked me if I was upset about the A’s selling off players again.  Confused? Yeah I was.  He was referring to the news that Jonny Gomes was signing with the Boston Red Sox.  Obviously he wasn’t up on the news from the past month that they had tried to resign him but couldn’t come to an agreement, and the A’s acquired Chris Young shortly after the season ended to essentially replace Gomes on the 25 man roster.  I told him I wasn’t the slightest bit worried about Gomes departure (coming from a purely baseball standpoint, obviously the Petaluman in me was kind of bummed), and that the A’s had upgraded by adding Chris Young.  It apparently wasn’t important that Young was an All Star in 2010, and played in the same division that he professed to follow so closely for 6 plus seasons.  The A’s had replaced a juggernaut (Gomes) with a total scrub (Young).

It’s frustrating to see that in the aftermath of all the success of the 2012 season, and the strong foundation for continued success that has been built, that there is still the perception that the A’s are the same old sellers they’ve been for the last 6 offseasons.  It’s tough to say what it will take to change that perception, perhaps another World Series title would do the trick, or a World Series win over the Giants themselves would be necessary.  We all know where this team is heading, and perhaps that’s all that really matters, but it would be nice for once if everyone else would be able to see the reality of the situation, no matter what happens this is a team on the rise.