It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

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Right not our beloved 2015 Oakland Athletics are sitting at 14-30 (.318) last in the AL West, 13.5 games out of first place with the worst record in MLB.

Playing out that .318 winning percentage to a 162 game season the A’s would finish a meager 52-110.

That’s bad…real bad.

I’m talking 1979 A’s bad, or worse since the ’79 team had a 15-29 record at this point in the season. The 1979 Oakland A’s finished that year at the franchise worst of 54-108 in a season when only 306,763 fans came out to the Oakland Coliseum to see the team – a modern day all-time low. (Thankfully the A’s have already surpassed that figure with 440,000 already coming out for the first 18 games of 2015)

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For those of us who were sucking air on this planet back then, the years of 1977-1979 were repulsive with consecutive last place finishes in a division of seven teams. The team that won the AL West from 1971 to 1975 (after two second place finishes in ’69 & ’70 and again in ’76) with three straight World Championships had been dismantled by its owner and GM Charlie Finley.

Fans had become accustomed to winning seasons with great pitching staffs and a team of players who never were out of any game. The once-victorious A’s were a shadow of the team they had been in earlier years that decade with what was a lineup basically of low salaried kids.  Fan morale was sinking fast for a team whose longest winning streak was only three games that season.

On April 17, 1979, 653 fans showed up at the Coliseum to watch the A’s beat the Mariners 6-5. Some say that was a generous estimate over the believed 250.

The 1979 A’s had the same “challenges” as this season, leading the league in errors with 174 errors in 162 games and a fielding percentage of only .972. That year saw a bullpen having 20 blown saves, 30 losses, and a 5.20 ERA.

During that depressed time, Finley nearly sold the team and threatening to move – Denver and New Orleans were the talked about locations. At the same time the City of Oakland was in was in the midst of its battle with the Oakland Raiders over their desire to move to Los Angeles and didn’t want to lose both teams. (The deal to move the A’s fell through when Oakland and Coliseum officials refused to release the A’s from their lease.)

Show of hands, is any of this sounding familiar to present day?

One thing that came out of that horrible year was  the feisty Billy Martin became the A’s manager the following year to develop young kids like Rickey Henderson, Dwayne Murphy, and Tony Armas and a pitching staff of winners finishing second in 1980 and back in the playoff for 1981.

Oh yeah, Finley sold the A’s to Walter A. Haas in 1981 and the A’s were back in the World Series within the decade.

Hey Lew, are ya hearin’ me?

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