I am first and foremost an Oakland A's fan.
I'm also an A's fan and a fan of the game of baseball but those are secondary.
The biggest reason that my devotion to the A's has been as absolute as it has been is because I have seen it as an extension of my loyalty to my city and my identity. I am an Oaklander. That's where I was raised and lived the majority of my life and it defines who I am. I am presently an Oaklander who lives in Sacramento, I have previously been an Oaklander who lives in LA and in the future I think I may be an Oaklander who lives in New York or Boston.
I love the city of Oakland. I love the people of Oakland. I love how they have affected me and the person I have become because of them. I love the A's because they are a part of that. Oakland is an underdog city, in the shadows of San Francisco and having to overcome the realities of being populated by people who are not just God's gifts to corporate America. Oakland is a real city full of real people, who make Oakland their home and become the city and let the city become them. To me the A's have always represented that. They have been an underdog team. They have been a team with character and identity and a team that represented and was truly a part of the community. They were truly the team of players like Stew, Rickey and Reggie, who were born here and made their lives here. The teams were families -- even if they were sometimes the family that fought -- and they were a central part of Oakland's family.
The Fremont A's are better than the Giants. I'll still root for them but it won't be the same. I don't mind driving an extra twenty minutes. It's not that at all. I live in Sacramento and I suspect I can get to Fremont faster than Oakland. It's also not ticket prices. My income has increased sufficiently over the years that I'll still be able to afford to go to all of the games that I have time for.
It does feel, though, that my loyalty was built on a lie. I have had such a strong allegience to the team because I thought they were a major part of my home and my community. Now they are telling me they are not. They will not be Oakland's team any more -- now they are going to be Fremont's.
As the Oakland A's, our relationship seemed reciprocal. I let them be a part of me -- and by taking Oakland as their identity, I was also a part of them.
That is no longer the case. Now the only relationship they chose to have with me and the people of Oakland is a financial one.
I know it's a business and my feelings may seem naive. But they are no more naive than the loyalty anyone also other than the owners and players may have for the team. Either your loyalty is based on feelings and experiences like mine has been -- or it's nothing more than brand loyalty -- comparable to Coke v Pepsi. As a kid I was a Pepsi drinker. Now if I drink soda, it's Diet Coke.
I have no plans to switch to the Diet Coke of baseball. I do still have some personal connection with the team. But if they want this to become more of a business relationship than a personal one, I don't think they can or should expect the same loyalty as they have received from people like me.
I've been to several hundred games in my 25 years. I'll probably go to several hundred more but a Fremont A's game just won't be the same.
I understand that many folks have developed their loyalty to the A's based on different experiences and reasons and that's fine. But that's why I developed mine and I suspect a number of my fellow Oaklanders would say something similar. Much of what I was rooting for looks like it is being taken away -- and if you don't have that deeper connection, then you are just rooting for laundry. While those of you from other parts of the Bay, the country or even Canada may not find this move difficult to accept -- your loyalty too is built on something -- that you are not just rooting for laundry. Imagine if that were taken from you. It would almost be as cruel as you not recommending this diary.