This afternoon, the fantastic Grant Brisbee over at McCovey Chronicles fessed up to a dirty, dirty secret. It turns out that he actually likes the A's.
Check out the article, because it's very worth reading. Brisbee details his affinity for the Swingin' A's — he even rooted for Oakland for at least part of the 1989 World Series — in hilarious fashion, complete with lovable Rickey Henderson anecdotes and an admission that the Oakland Coliseum isn't a terrible place to watch baseball.
But as you can probably imagine, Grant, the feeling isn't always mutual. It usually isn't, and it's often as far from mutual as you can imagine. What I'm trying to say is that a lot of A's fans hate the Giants with a burning, fiery passion. When it comes to my personal baseball fandom, there's no greater pleasure (in the regular season, at least) than watching the A's beat the Giants. Especially since 2010.
But many Giants fans seem to think the loathing is misdirected at best. Maybe so. But it exists, and there are reasons — legit or not — that it exists. So without further ado, here are a few of the reasons why this series might be the most important one of the season for Oakland fans:
2010 and 2012: Sure, the A's and Giants were rivals before 2010. Sure, there were probably A's fans who claimed to hate the Giants in 1989, and the East Bay-San Francisco struggle for regional recognition has roots far older than Major League Baseball - even professional baseball - in the Bay Area.
But 2010 hurt. Watching the Giants and their sparkling, still-new ballpark win the World Series for the first time as San Francisco's team wasn't fun initially, and it quickly got worse. The fact that the Bay Area basically gave up productivity the day of the World Series Parade, or that I heard firecrackers set off after the final out in Berkeley, or that people who you didn't even know watched baseball suddenly claimed to be Giants die-hards, didn't help. And then it happened again in 2012, and it was worse.
The argument could also be made that the A's played better baseball than the Giants between 2002 and 2012. Same playoff appearances, a more compelling storyline in 2002, et cetera...It hurts that they have nothing to show for it.
The bandwagon: As much as A's fans enjoy pretending the opposite is true, not all Giants fans are bandwagoners. Not even close. And though the bandwagon effect hasn't been big in light of Oakland's back-to-back division titles, it would be (proportionally) at least as big as San Francisco's if the A's won two World Series in three years. But the Giants have bandwagoners, and the fanbase without the bandwagon is entitled to mild annoyance.
It bothers many, too, that fans in many East Bay cities have fallen into the clasp of Larry Baer, especially given the territorial distribution of the Bay Area (it's pretty sad). Oakland, obviously, is A's territory. My hometown of Berkeley is safely A's territory, having survived the Poseyan Incursions of 2010 and 2012. Other East Bay cities aren't so lucky.
You can have Piedmont, a city (originally) full of people so desperate to escape the clutches of Oakland that, well, they founded a city surrounded by Oakland on all sides. But we want El Cerrito. We want San Leandro. We want Walnut Creek. Help.
Giants fans turning up their noses at first mention of Oakland, or the East Bay: Go to an A's-Giants game at AT&T Park, and you'll hear a lot of jokes about getting shot in Oakland. Stop that. Oakland is awesome, and it's like 15 minutes away. Don't knock it ‘til you check it out.
Jokes about the Coliseum being a toilet bowl are getting old, too. Only we can make those jokes.
AT&T Park: The Coliseum is fantastic. I don't think there's a better place to watch a baseball game on a summer afternoon. It's no-frills, to be sure, but it certainly gets the job done.
But AT&T Park is a masterpiece of a ballpark, and I don't understand people who think otherwise. I'm not a fan of the wine bars and the fact that you need a ticket (an insanely expensive one, to boot) just to enjoy the concessions in the Club Level. But fan behavior and atmosphere aside, it's hard not to be jealous when you step inside what's quite possibly the nicest pro sports venue in the country. And jealously leads to hatred.
Territorial rights: This one is weird. The narrative that the Giants are the only force keeping the A's in Oakland is spot-on. And it's annoying. For Oakland fans who are just that — Oakland fans just as much as they're A's fans — having your rival do you a massive favor is weird and frustrating, as much as it makes you happy. Baseball is weird.
Edit: It was brought up below that for the A's who want the team to play in San Jose, the Giants are preventing that from happening, too. Every angle of the territorial rights saga makes A's fans hate the Giants. Go figure.
The A's aren't your pet: As Mr. Brisbee so nicely detailed, a lot of Giants fans root for Oakland as something of an afterthought. But the Giants have owned the A's this side of 2000. They literally control where the A's play, they've won two titles, they moved into baseball's best ballpark, and the pity-fandom can be patronizing. Salt in the wound, guys.
But hatred aside, both fanbases inhabit the coolest place ever, the Bay Area, and there's too much shared history between the teams, cities, and fans for the "hatred" to be real. Well, real. So as you take in tonight's game (or Tuesday's) at the Coliseum surrounded by people wearing orange t-shirts and panda hats, none of whom know that Buster Posey's first name is Gerald and that three players on the A's have more WAR than he does, take a deep breath. Hopefully the scoreboard doesn't disappoint you.