Thank God I'm an Oakland Fan (as John Denver might have put it).
As the new baseball season dawns, there is little hope that the A's will contend this year. However, here's a little something to help us remember how lucky we are to be Oakland fans. Our team has given us an interesting ride over the years like none other. Since 1970, the Oakland A's have:
Been Excellent on the Field
- Won more World Series (4) than anybody except the Yankees.
- Been to more League Championship Series (11) than anybody except the Yankees (12).
- Set the MLB record for consecutive wins (11) at the start of a season.
- Set the AL record for consecutive wins (20) within a season.
- Enjoyed three separate actual or near dynasties filled with notable "characters" and memorable players.
- Had five seasons in which no MLB team had more victories (1971, 1988-90, 2002). (And to help us appreciate the good times, they've also had a season with the worst record in baseball (1997).)
Boasted Exceptional Talent
- Had more players win the MVP (7) than any other team.
- Had more pitchers win the AL Cy Young (5) than any other team (Dodgers have 5 NL).
- Had more players win the AL Rookie of the Year award (7) than any other team; (Dodgers have 9 NL) (The A's also traded away two more ROYs before they reached the majors).
- Since 1990, had more pitchers (3) win the Rolaids Relief Award than any other team.
- Employed more of the Top 20 all-time home run leaders (6) than any other franchise.
- Starred three players who at the time of their retirement were, arguably, the best of all-time in their roles: Leadoff hitter (Rickey), reliever (Rollie), and closer (Eck).
- Of all the players elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA since 1985, more of them (10) played for Oakland than for any other team (BOS also 10).
- Been credited by the Wall Street Journal for (in part) causing the downfall of the National League.
- Had a best-selling book written about them which was important in the baseball, business, and general interest communities.
- Had an Oscar-nominated film made about them, featuring one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.
- Heavily influenced the ways teams have thought about the draft.
- Heavily influenced the ways teams have thought about trades.
- Heavily influenced the ways players thought about PEDs.
- Heavily influenced the ways managers use their bullpens and their "closers."
- Heavily influenced the way teams think about hiring front office staff.
- Seeded other teams with star-quality (Jocketty, Alderson, Dolich) and other top (Schueler, DePodesta, Ricciardi) executives.
- Employed five managers who have taken other teams to the World Series (Williams, Dark, McKeon, Martin, LaRussa).
- Had the owner whose idea led every league in the world (except the boring NL) to adopt more exciting rules (the DH).
- Been named the all-time favorite baseball team by Sports Illustrated (the '74 Champs).
- Been trendsetters for uniforms.
- Been trendsetters for looks (ie mustaches), and greetings (Bash Brothers forearm bash).
- Trialed orange baseballs.
- Debuted a form of cheering which became popular worldwide (The Wave, love it or hate it).
- Revolutionized (love it or hate it) the way music is heard at the ballpark (rock music from big speakers rather than organ music).
- Made some of the most intriguing trades, from the large (Garner, Blue), to the brilliant (Eck, Mulder), to the unusual (Tanner), to the disallowed (Fingers/Rudi, Blue), to the unfortunate (Huddy, Holliday) to the let's-see (Gio).
- Made some of the all-time most unexpected drafts/signings/postings: (Van Poppel, Prieto, Ynoa, Iwakuma, Cespedes, Manny).
- Suffered two of the more celebrated labor disputes (Blue, Catfish).
- Spawned terms which uniquely described them (Swingin' A's, Billyball, Moneyball).
- Seeded the entertainment (MC Hammer) and dessert (Debbie Fields) worlds with stars.
- Created the Designated Runner.
- Paraded Charlie O, the mule, around the field (and in the press box).
- Used a mechanical rabbit to bring balls to the umpire.
- No hitters: Since 1968, no team has thrown more perfect games (2) (Yankees also 2).
- No hitters: Only team to be involved in three combined no-hitters.
- No hitters: Only AL team with two rookie no-no's (StL also 2).
- Founded the 40-40 club.
- Honored as the only team to open their season in Japan twice.
- Dishonored as the only team to open their season in Las Vegas.
- Suffered endless city/stadium drama (Denver, Mt Davis, Fremont, San Jose).
- Had at least six official names for their home ballpark in 14 years.
- Had the second-highest AL attendance in some years, and the lowest in others.
- Attracted 653 people to one game.
- Had both the lowest payroll in the AL and the highest.
- Broadcast their games on a 10-watt college station and on an FM station.
- Had several local beat writers move on to star in the national media.
- The sport of baseball has been the cover story on Time Magazine 13 times. Four of those covers were about the A's.
It's true that other organizations have had some moments in the sun. The Yankees have been both successful and soap operatic. The Cubs and Red Sox have had fame, but primarily due to their old ballparks and traditional lack of success. And the Michigan basketball team popularized longer shorts.
But, no other baseball organization (with the possible exception of the Yankees) comes close to matching the A's for all around excellence and intrigue.