Feeling betrayed and abandoned, Oaklands A’s supporters held a tomato-throwing protest over the weekend to take aim at a trio being blamed for what increasingly appears to be a done deal – the A’s moving to Las Vegas.
Targets of what was billed Friday as the “Rotten Tomato Tailgate” were images of A’s owner John Fisher, team president Dave Kaval and Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.
“It’s pretty much those three guys’ fault,” Kellen Osbourn told the San Francisco Chronicle at the event outside the Last Dive Bar.
“It’s just like the old Greek times,” said Dave Johansen, a founder of the Oakland bar. “It’s innocent, it’s not hurting anybody. And it’s fricken’ hilarious.”
The A’s executives and Manfred have been taking hits since announcing they are finalizing a stadium site in April.
In the aftermath, Chronicle baseball writers lobbed shots of their own in reaction to the development.
Susan Slusser, who covered the A’s full-time from 1999 to 2021, wrote that she was convinced “Vegas was a red herring because it’s not as good a market in many respects and because John Fisher is part of an iconic Bay Area family. I couldn’t have imagined he’d make himself a villain in Northern California by doing this. I understand he’d made strong efforts to stay and the ratings/attendance are beyond poor, but had he devoted his effort to a more practical spot, the A’s would have had a new stadium 10 years ago and, I believe, would be profitable and thriving.”
“Rooted in Oakland,” she said, referring to the team’s marketing slogan unveiled in 2017, “makes me want to retch now.”
A’s beat writer Matt Kawahara questioned “moving from the sixth-largest media market – albeit shared with the Giants – to the 40th-largest.
Chronicle columnist Ron Kroichick said Manfred “comes across as a stooge with little regard for tradition and no interest in finding creative solutions. He seems perfectly willing to trade a city with abundant soul and history for a domed stadium in Sin City. Ugh.”
Attendance has fallen dramatically at A’s games over the past year, as the A’s management took increased interest in Las Vegas. The franchise had the lowest average attendance in MLB with less than 10,000 per game, including a team-record low of 2,488 a month into the 2022 season. Off to a 9-33 start through Sunday, they are pace to end up with 120-plus losses, the most since the New York Mets, who were 40-120 in their inaugural year (1962) as an expansion team. That’s the worst record in modern baseball history.
The A’s play in Ring Central Coliseum, formerly known as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the A’s home since 1968 when they were uprooted from Kansas City. The stadium was the Raiders’ home from 1966 to 1982, when they moved to the Los Angeles Coliseum 12 years later. After returning to Oakland in 1995 and moved to Las Vegas in 2020.
WINCHELLS EYE PREAKNESS
Prominent Las Vegas thoroughbred owners Joan Winchell and her son Ron will have two promising entries in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.
Both horses, Disarm and Red Route One, are sons of Gun Runner, the Winchell’s wonder horse who was the 2017 Horse of the Year with earnings of nearly $16 million.
The Winchell’s Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, the winningest trainer in the U.S. and Canada, has won twice at Preakness, with Curlin in 2007 and the 2016 Belmont Stakes with Creator.
A year ago, the Winchells and Asmussen saw their Kentucky Derby entry, Epicenter, the favorite, in the lead down the stretch before losing to 80-1 longshot Rich Strike by three quarters of a length—about six feet.
BO KNOWS HICCUPS
Former Raiders running back sensation Bo Jackson has been suffering from a siege of hiccups since July.
The former Auburn, NFL and MLB star, underwent a procedure last week in hopes of resolving the problem.
The medical oddity, a spasm of the diaphragm, plagued former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dave McNally in 1975, the year he retired.
A four-time 20-game winner, McNally was hospitalized because the hiccups were tearing the lining of his esophagus and pulling his stomach muscles.
During his hospitalization, doctors attempted a number of cures, including a medication to deadening the nerves. Something worked, he wasn’t sure which.
THE LAST WORD
Two bets placed at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati reportedly triggered the investigation that resulted in the Alabama baseball coach being fired.
The irony: MLB suspended Pete Rose for life, denying him eligibility for Hall of Fame consideration, yet now allows in-stadium gambling! Can you say “double standard” and ‘hypocrisy.’” — Denny Dressman, former Rocky Mountain News sports editor, author and one of the best journalists I ever worked with.
I had met him in Cincinnati in the 1970s and he recruited me to the Rocky in 1984. In 1987, while in line at a bank the day after the Denver Broncos lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, he heard a customer say his friend had bet his house on the Broncos. Blessed with incredible instincts, Dressman came back to the office and assigned the story to me. With his guidance, it turned into a series of stories that won The Sporting News’ investigative reporter of the year award in 1988.