And are players in general fans of the team they play for? I think they probably were back in the day but a lot has changed in the game. Maybe it was free agency. Maybe it was inevitable but now it is just a business…a job. Players still have fun. You see it during batting practice (Braden shagging balls is always hilarious) or in other candid moments but there does not seem to be as much loyalty to the team. I see this especially with the A’s.
Let me explain. First off, I am an NRAF. You probably do not see this as much in Oakland where most fans are (usually) A’s fans. I live in Southern California so most of my chances to see the A’s are in Anaheim. I will take my boys on a roadie or two a year to Oakland and maybe somewhere else but most games we watch are in Anaheim…and we catch pretty much every game except a few that conflict with little league.
We have been to dozens of games over the past few years and almost always get there when the gates open so that we can get right on the rail by one of the foul poles (this is the only place they allow fans to come down close to the field for bp in Anaheim) and try to land a ball. Two hours before the game, the Angels are usually finishing up bp and the occasional ball fielded by a pitcher near us is tossed up to an Angel fan…which is expected.
Then the A’s take bp and this is where I recently started questioning their fandom. We are always right on the rail in front of everyone for the entire bp session. We are three of the very few, sometimes the only ones, in green and gold…among a sea of red. I am pretty sure we stick out. For some reason, however, we very rarely get tossed a ball from the pitchers shagging fly balls. Time and time again I see A’s players walking balls over to Angel fans. Sometimes they look right at us or walk right by us. Are they trying to make friends in enemy territory? I do not think my kids are too old to be tossed a ball. They are 6 and 12. And I have been taking my older one since he was a toddler and this has been happening since then. I thought it was just a fluke. Or maybe my boys are not aggressive enough. I try to teach them to be respectful and polite. BBG can vouch for me – they are good kids. They don’t yell, ‘Ball! Ball! Ball!’ at the players or get upset when they don’t get a ball. They know the players names. When the pitchers shag balls and look to the crowd, my kids look their way and shout their name.
This thought never crossed my mind before but after years of going to dozens of games and watching well over a 100 hours of bp and seeing hundreds of balls handed to Angel fans while we have secured a handful, it hit me. Most of these players do not care that we are A’s fans. Why should they. They are probably not A’s fans themselves. Most just happened to be drafted or traded to the A’s.
I know this sounds bitter. It probably is. But after so many games, it just kept seeming more and more odd to me. Angel fans think the same. At every bp, at least one Angel fan says to me, ‘Why aren’t they giving a ball to you guys?’ ‘If they are going to flip a ball to anyone, it should be you guys.’ Sometimes they even try to help out by yelling out to the players ‘there are A’s fans right here!’ (this is usually after they have already secured a ball for themselves but appreciated nonetheless)
Angel players toss bp balls to Angel fans 100% of the time which I have observed and which I expect. I am not sure how this works in Oakland…when I am there, I usually skip chasing the bp balls and take my boys behind the dugout to try to score autographs.
I do not think players are jerks. Some might be but there are plenty of nice ones out there – Ziggy, Kouz, Gio. I just don’t think most feel a loyalty to their team’s fans over other fans. I do not think they themselves are necessarily fans of their team,
So am I crazy? Is it just bad luck?
Do you think most A’s players have loyalty to A’s fans?
A’s pitchers: If you happen to read this, help some die-hard A’s fans out. We are there for pretty much every A’s game in Anaheim. When you are shagging balls and looking to toss one to a fan, you can’t miss us. We are the three in green and gold who are front and center at the rail…right in front of you. The kids might not be the loudest or aggressive but they are your biggest fans.