MESA, Ariz. – Noël Grandrath of Oakland was standing in the beer line at Hohokam Stadium attending the first spring training game of 2022 when she spotted A’s president Dave Kaval walking nearby.
Wearing a Matt Chapman jersey with his name and number covered in black tape, Grandrath looked at Kaval from afar and weakly pleaded, “Keep your promises, dude.”
Grandrath and many other fans are fed up with the A’s latest teardown. This week, the team traded Chapman and two other 2021 All-Stars, Matt Olson and Chris Bassitt, in a cost-savings streak that likely hasn’t ended yet.
Life as an A-Fan was on full display last Saturday. A fan fest organized by the fans rather than the team was crashed by Bassitt’s trade. The news broke minutes after a raffle was held to give away a hat and ball signed by Bassitt. Even the presence of special guests—Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and ace mascot Stomper were among the 200 spectators—didn’t dull the pain of that irony.
Alex Espinosa, owner of The Rickey Henderson of Blogs website, captured some fan sentiment after the trade. One commenter summed up the situation perfectly: “I’m sad but I’m not surprised. I’ve been an A fan for a long time so I’ve gotten used to it.”
— The Rickey Henderson of blogs (@RickeyBlog) March 13, 2022
The era of every ace ended in a painful teardown. Only the names have changed. It started with Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and the Mustache Gang of the 1970s. Then came Rickey Henderson, followed by Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Dennis Eckersley and Dave Stewart, followed by Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. It goes on and on. Sonny Gray, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson and so many others up to Chapman, Olson and Bassitt.
“At this point, I think the fans are pretty deaf,” Espinosa said. “It’s been like that for the last two decades. But it still hurts.”
Team Ownership, led by John Fisher, has done nothing to soften the recent blow. Fans must expect a massive increase in ticket prices. In a thread of tweets this week, a fan wrote that its view-level tickets had increased from $399 per seat in 2019 to $888 this season. Other wrote that his two Section 225 seats had gone up from $2,950 in 2019 to $6,500 this season. One third wrote that her Section 119 seat went from $711 to $1,587.
The kicker at the end of most tweets? Most fans said they didn’t renew for 2022.
“If they kept the band together, it would be like, ‘Oh sweet, we have a chance to win this year,'” Espinosa said. “But the fact that they’re tearing down the list and raising ticket prices at the same time just doesn’t make sense to them — it doesn’t make sense to me.”
The trades stung even the most vocal of A’s supporters: former pitcher and A’s broadcaster Dallas Braden. The popular left-hander posted a video after Olson was traded, interrupting his defense of the trade by shouting profanities.
Braden hinted at the end of the tirade that he would stay with the team. But fans at Friday’s game were less sure of their plans.
Patrick Guyer was coming from Sacramento to his 11-year-old son’s baseball tournament and wanted to take his three kids to see his favorite team’s spring opener. Raised as an A-fan since the Giambi-Tejada years, he’s also raised his kids to be fans — even when their favorite players are traded away.
“Sometimes it can be disappointing,” Guyer said. “Part of that is you want to be connected, but then you don’t because you’re going to lose the players.”
His eldest son’s favorite player is Olson, whom he will now support at Atlanta. While they do make it to about four or five games a season at Oakland, Guyer said those moves make him question his fandom.
“It’s kind of frustrating,” he said. “Why can’t we keep the players and pay them? We have an owner who has a lot of money. Why can’t we keep the players and pay for them and try to get a World Series?
Grandrath shares the same frustration. She first became an A-fan in the 1970s and enjoyed the teams that won three straight World Series crowns despite living in Chicago. She moved to Oakland in 1986 and has followed the team closely ever since, including becoming a season ticket holder in 2010.
Grandrath already has her season tickets for 2022, but she’s not even sure if she’ll last this year as ticket prices have gone up and A’s Access Benefits program season ticket holders have been removed.
“Maybe not after that,” said Grandrath. “This could be the last straw.”
One thing is certain: many fans will not follow the team to Las Vegas, the place Kaval and the A’s have eyed as a potential new home if the Howard Terminal stadium proposal in Oakland fails.
“I would just enjoy baseball and not follow the Las Vegas A’s,” Guyer said.
“I love the A’s, I love Oakland, but if they don’t stay in Oakland…” Grandrath said, completing her thought with a wave of farewell.
https://www.thereporter.com/2022/03/19/as-fans-feel-recent-trades-ticket-prices-might-be-the-last-straw/ A’s fans are feeling the recent deals, ticket prices could be the last straw.