Billy Beane, famed general manager of the famed Oakland Athletics, makes the famed fans of the Oakland ballclub better fans of baseball. How? By forcing them to analyze stats, scout other teams and always watch the standings.
A’s fans are always quick to point out certain “bandwagon fans” lack of knowledge of the great game of baseball. We can make that point because we know every player’s splits, we understand dWAR and OPS, we manage payrolls and estimate future salaries, and we value numbers beyond the batting average. We can all thank Billy Beane for this ability. Every time he makes a seemingly boneheaded move, we crunch the numbers and try to figure out how such a smart man could make such a foolish trade. Most of the time, we can find the answer in the numbers.
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I would wager that most fanbases don’t spend a ton of time looking at players from other teams, either. Part of why A’s fans do is that there isn’t a team in the majors that doesn’t have some type of Athletics connection at this point. Shoot, the Diamondbacks may as well be an Oakland franchise. The other reason A’s fans are always watching is because when we hear that Jeff Samardjiza is being traded, we want to know exactly what we can expect in return.
I have said a million times how much I hate exaggeration so keep that in mind when you read the next sentence. Oakland Athletics fans may be the most “baseball educated” fans in all of the MLB. How many times have you been at a game only to overhear two people arguing the merits of advanced sabermetrics? How often are you in a bar and engage in fisticuffs after some drunk in Orange says that “you should never have traded away Mulder”? When the last time you killed a man for suggesting the A’s wouldn’t get 70 wins next season?
A’s fans know the sport and the team inside out and that may very well be our connection with the team. We, as fans, can’t get attached to players because they come and go so we get attached to the game behind the game, the analytics, the trades, the acquisitions. So when Beane makes his next bone headed trade, which should be in the next couple of days, make sure you take a moment, read all of the analysis at Swingin’ A’s, crunch the numbers and thank him for continuing to be one step ahead of the rest of baseball. You’re a better fan for it.