Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants: A Tale of Two Cities

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Feb 26, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) and Oakland Athletics infielder Nick Punto (1) look at the umpire who said Sandoval was late with his tag at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports. Athletics won the exhibition game 10-5.

It was the best of times

, it was the worst of times. The Giants latest postseason run has left fans of the Oakland Athletics angry, bewildered, and downtrodden. When your most hated rival lives in your backyard, and they consistently achieve greatness, it isn’t always a good time rooting for your team. But with this rivalry, it goes much, much deeper than just wins and losses.

Until recently, the Oakland Athletics had dominated the Bay Area baseball scene since they moved to Oakland in 1968. With three consecutive World Series titles from ’72-’74, the A’s were THE team. Even though the A’s lost two of three World Series from 1988-1990, their one series win came against the team from across the bridge.

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Then AT&T Park was built. The beautiful distraction that is AT&T gave the Giants the better ballpark of the two clubs, and arguably one of the best parks in baseball. Since 2006, our beloved owner, Lew Wolff, has been trying to move the team from Oakland in an effort to get a new park built for the Athletics. Now, eight years later, we are getting a new scoreboard heading into 2015, and this is considered progress.

The A’s have stayed competitive for the better part of 15 years, which is remarkable in its own right, given their budget, but the Giants have always seemed to do just a little bit better. In 2010, in one of the few seasons the A’s weren’t competitive, the Giants won their first World Series title in San Francisco. It was nice for them. I congratulated many of my long-suffering friends on the win.

In 2012, the A’s had a magical second half and made the playoffs for the first time since 2006. 2012 was a great season to be a fan. Until October. The team that eliminated Oakland, the Detroit Tigers, advanced to the World Series, and were subsequently swept by  the Giants. That’s just rubbing salt in the wound. The good vibes that the East Bay felt after a fantastic season were quickly wiped away by another World Series trophy being brought back to San Francisco.

Now, in 2014, the Giants have reached the promised land once again, and Even Year Magic is apparently a thing. A very annoying thing.

While the Giants have enjoyed postseason success after postseason success, the Oakland Athletics have become a postseason punchline.

The Giants, with their new ballpark and recent success, have loads of money to waste on bad contracts, like Tim Lincecum’s $17.5M deal while he rots in the bullpen, waiting for a call that will never come. That one wasted contract is roughly 23% of the A’s total payroll. The A’s seemingly have to be perfect on all of their signings, or it will sink the team for years to come.

The once proud Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, have now jumped ship and donned new colors. Of all the teams they could have chosen, it had to be the Giants they’d align themselves with.

Then there are the fans. While I have many friends that are Giants fans, I also live and work in San Francisco, so the bandwagon fans come out in full force around this time of the year, every other year. Wearing an A’s hat for these kids was cool two months ago, but now they have brand new Giants hats. I get it. This is a trendy city, and everyone has to be on the cutting edge.

To be fair, every fan base that is winning has these fans, and I understand that. It doesn’t help the postseason pain subside though.

It’s not all sour grapes, however. I think what irks most fans is that the Giants are the team that A’s fans wish they had, largely built on the backs of their farm system. The A’s had the makings of a Championship contender in the early 2000’s, but were forced to trade away some key fixtures, and lose others, due to financial constraints.

The Giants have lots of pretty merchandise as well, something that the A’s lack. The Giants are run like a business. The A’s do a decent job, but they are obviously lacking by comparison.

The Giants as team team are fairly likable guys, meaning they lack the Barry Bonds-esque personality that would turn fans off from the team. All in all, the San Francisco Giants are a good team, and play the game the right way.

But that still doesn’t mean I have to like them.

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