Instead of appreciating his team's success, A's owner Lew Wolff blasted Oakland fans for not coming out in greater numbers the last homestand of the season. Now you know why Wolff's picture is opposite the definition of ingrate in the dictionary.
This is, let us not forget, the same Wolff who has figuratively kicked A's fans in the teeth for years, while making no secret of his intent to move to San Jose — if he can ever get rid of that pesky agreement to give the Giants territorial rights there.
Two years running, Wolff sent out emails to prospective season-ticket buyers saying he was still committed to moving to San Jose. He tarped off a substantial part of the park, including some choice seats in the upper deck behind home plate (a few have since been restored), which held down attendance.
All this has discouraged enough fans to hold down the attendance so that Wolff and John Fisher, who has given new meaning to the phrase “silent partner,” are raking in millions each year in revenue sharing. With a payroll that is among the lowest in MLB this year, they're making a tidy profit each year.
Meanwhile, the players continually praise their fans for their support, citing them as one reason for the success on the field.
The A's fans remind me of Giants fans at Candlestick, hanging in there despite an environment that is far from perfect. At Candlestick, the wind and cold kept away all but the most dedicated. At the Coliseum, the deterrents are an old facility and Lew Wolff. Those who come cheer their team and mock Wolff with “Let's go Oakland” chants.
With the support of their fans, the overachieving A's are in the postseason for the second straight year. As I wrote in an earlier column, it has been remarkable how general manager Billy Beane and his scouts have found good players to obtain in trades. One example: Beane traded All-Star starter Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to the Diamondbacks for Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill. Losing Cahill seemed terrible at the time, but looking at the trade now, who do you think got the better of it?
It helps, of course, that A's pitching coach Curt Young is so good with young pitchers. Pitching coaches vary. In the 1980s, Dave Duncan was unexcelled at reviving the careers of veteran pitchers, with Dennis Eckersley and Dave Stewart the prime examples. But he had no patience with young pitchers. Young, though, seems to have infinite patience with young pitchers and he does a remarkable job of making minor changes in a pitcher's delivery, so he can be successful.
Last year, it was a surprise that the A's were in the playoff picture. This year was quite different, as they had a winning record in each month of the season and clinched the division more than a week before the season ended.
If the A's reach the World Series, the tarps will be off and there will be sellout crowds at the Coliseum.
And maybe that will shut up Lew Wolff.