Open Letter to John Shea and the SF Chron

Dear Mr. Shea,

First, let me say that I am an avid reader of the Sporting Green. I follow you, Susan Slusser, and Bruce Jenkins all by name (and dearly miss the days of Ray Ratto) and have never before had a harsh word to say about any of you. I've even accepted the fact that news of my beloved A's is more often than not relegated to page 5, with hardly even a caption or mention of the day's game making the front page. I've accepted that, and I will continue to dig into the recesses of the paper to find what paltry news seems fit to print about my home team. It is, after all, the San Francisco Chronicle isn't it?

I was at the game tonight, and got to witness that incredible performance by Tommy Milone, and the triumphant almost-expected feeling when they wrapped their 10th walk-off win. I felt that crowd weather Cano's solo shot without deflating despite the roars from the Yankee-fan infiltrators. And when we won it in the bottom of the ninth it was sheer jubilation with a heady dose of profound satisfaction. That was a special moment for me. To watch this team win despite the odds, despite the adversity, despite the owners who have given up on them, (or worse, who actively plot their demise) despite their dilapidated stadium and anemic attendance - that is a memory I will cherish and not soon forget.

I was so excited about the win that I eagerly dove in to read every drop and driblet of coverage I could find online as soon as I got home . Which is when I dialed up and saw your recap and my heart just sank.

I'm referring specifically to this paragraph, which I will quote, with my own emphasis added to speed you along towards my complaint.

"Though the A's and Yankees are the majors' hottest teams since June 2 (following Oakland's nine-game losing streak), they played in front of a second straight non-sellout crowd. Attendance was 24,148, and some booed Swisher for a second consecutive night." via

I was there, John. I have seen home games this season with scarcely a thousand in attendance. I have had my moments of doubt when I thought maybe the Wolff/Fisher party line that this town can't support this team rang true. But I've kept the faith, and watched that nine game losing streak fade into distant memory. I was there tonight, and I saw 24,000 other people like me who showed up, despite it all, to watch our team play and win. The sight of that "non-sellout crowd" warmed my heart, until you turned it into a pejorative. The phrase "second straight non-sellout" disregards the context of the challenges the A's face thanks to their unctuous owners. You seem to imply that a sellout crowd is a reasonable expectation for this team, and made the triumphant tally of 24,000(!!) in attendance sound paltry when it should sound exultant. I dare say, even if the A's did have a "sellout" crowd occupying the lower two decks, you would have complained that they didn't "sellout" the upper deck, never mind the tarp. Really? Second straight non-sellout? When was the last time the A's DID have a sellout crowd at that rust bucket of a stadium? Why on earth did you decide to frame your point in such a negative light?

If you've given up on the A's, if you can't see the feel-good story of "scrappy underdogs who don't quit, even if their owners blatantly wish they would," then you would do well to reconsider your career as a sports writer. I cannot for the life of me figure out why you felt the need to turn an article about the A's beating the Yankees (!!) and use it to subtly advance the Wolff/Fisher agenda.

I'm trying as best as I can to explain to you my perspective rather than hurl invective-laden spittle in your general direction. As I've said, I truly respect and admire your work, and with the exception of this one grievance have never had cause for complaint. But you let me down tonight, and I wanted to share with you a piece of my mind. It may not be much, but you possess more power than anyone I know to shape and influence the ultimate fate of this team. I want them to stAy, John. Everything Lew Wolff and John Fisher want to do to this team embodies everything that is wrong with Corporate America. They want to do the wrong things for all the wrong reasons, just to make a buck. Sports have always been, and should always be, about more than just making a buck and I think you know it, or you wouldn't do what you do. Could you imagine a day when there will never be another Bay Bridge Series? Could you live with yourself knowing you did anything less than everything in your power to preserve the legacy of this great ballclub and its ties to this city?

Thank you for listening John. I look forward to your next article.

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