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A’s not going anyplace — except maybe in the standings

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — “Rooted in Oakland.” That’s the A’s slogan, their implied promise. “We ain’t going anywhere, people,” they’re telling us. Unlike the Raiders. Unlike the Warriors.

Except, with good fortune, going up the American League standings.

It’s different on this side of the bay. No ballpark by the water. No Frank Sinatra recording of “Strangers in the Night” in the top of the seventh. Hey, when the announced attendance is only 11,383, nobody’s a stranger.

The A’s dropped one on Tuesday night to the Angels, 7-3. Three walk-off wins in a row and then a loss. Anyone in baseball gladly would accept that statistic.

Especially the Giants. They’re awful, and becoming more awful. They can’t win any, never mind three in a row.

The A’s? The Royals? The Blue Jays? No, the San Francisco Giants have the worst record in the majors. They lost opening day, and there went the season.

About the time the A’s were coming out for batting practice Tuesday, just after 4 p.m., the Giants, having played only two innings against the Mets in New York, were behind, 5-0, the score posted on the right field board even though nobody but players and workers were inside the Coliseum.

Somebody not in uniform was heard to comment, “Unbelievable.”

As if anything in baseball really is.

The Yankees and Cubs play 18 innings in one of those absurd ESPN Sunday night games that ended at 1:05 a.m. in Chicago, the Yankees then flying to Cincinnati, arriving at 5 a.m. and playing that night. The A’s win consecutive games in the final inning by a home run.

Yonder Alonso hit a couple home runs Tuesday night for Oakland. Maybe he’s on his way to becoming a star. Maybe he’s on his way to another team. With the A’s, one never knows.

The often-repeated theory held here is that with cars, wine or ballplayers one gets what he or she pays for. Sometimes you get a kid before he’s eligible for the big contract or vino the critics haven’t reviewed, but that’s not the norm.

So if the A’s, with their 2017 payroll of some $75 million — it’s still higher than those of the Rays, Padres and Brewers — are doing as well or as poorly as might be imagined, the Giants and their $170 million payroll are a disaster. Well, they’d be a disaster no matter how much money they earned.

Nostalgia is big at the Coliseum, as it should be. There’s Rickey Henderson Field, a wise public relations idea — and in the pre-game home clubhouse, there’s Rickey his ownself, chattering, laughing, lending as much credibility and direction as possible.

The wall of the walkway through which the athletes pass on their way to the clubhouse is lined with photos of everyone who played for the A’s, even if as brief as a season, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Dennis Eckersley, Reggie Jackson and, of course, Henderson.

Past and present mingle beneath the framework of a stadium that management hopes to replace with a new ballpark. On the waterfront, perhaps. Or on the very site of the Coliseum. But definitely in Oakland.

The questions of when and where have persisted virtually from the time the A’s arrived in 1968. That was 10 years after the Giants, who — and isn’t this ironic, now having become established at AT&T Park? — moved to a ballpark accurately described as the worst in America, Candlestick Park.

The A’s were going to Denver. The A’s were going to Las Vegas. The A’s were going to San Jose. But they’re still in Oakland and seemingly will be for a long while.

Wonderful.

 

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