The A's suck. Dead freaking last in the entire major leagues of baseball. The Sugarland Skeeters would probably take two of three from them at this point (surprise, bullpen blows it in the 7th). We A's fans aren't used to this after a few winning seasons. Right now, thinking about the A's just makes us angry, and baseball is losing its fun. That's natural, but it's not good. Far better is to channel our anger and frustration into healthier outlets.
"Geren Years" veterans know how to get through this. We watched some really really boring moribund A's teams for five years. We can do this. Those who may have seen the 1979 A's might have a leg up on me. Especially in those pre-internet years you old guys probably had to get really creative to enjoy a season like that.
Even so, after a three year stretch of great A's baseball punctuated by epic heartbreak we all need to dust off our losing season playbook. I pretty much forgot what it was like not to really worry about winning or losing in each and every baseball game of the season. But at 14-28, with a sterling .333 winning percentage, and never ever winning two games in a row, I'm coming around to enjoying more and caring less. Here are some handy dandy tips so you can do the same.
1. Watch the Golden State Warriors
I've had season tickets to the Warriors for 11 years. It was the first major thing that my friend and I purchased together when we graduated college and moved back to the Bay Area during the recession. I was working all sorts of random jobs but season tickets were cheap. We were able to start with a 12 game plan and then graduate to full season (which I remember being around $26 a game; they're going up to $70 next year for the same seats). At the time they sucked and I couldn't give away my tickets if I couldn't go. The biggest Warriors highlight of my youth after the blip of competitiveness in the early '90s (another squad broken up by poor trades...) was Latrell Sprewell choking PJ Carlesimo. For any longtime Warriors fan, this is a historically completely useless team finally making good and competing for the title. For A's fans that are also Warriors fans, this has been a welcome distraction. If the Dubs make the finals, we still have at least a few more weeks of basketball to enjoy.
Even if you don't like basketball, let yourself get sucked into it. Riding a bandwagon is fun, and even more fun when it's an Oakland team that plays directly across from the Coliseum. This was the scene outside of Oracle Arena, about 20 minutes after game 1 of the Western Conference finals (must be watched with the sound on):
If the Warriors are successful in moving to San Francisco, they will lose this scene forever. There aren't gonna be a few hundred fans of all races and social statuses rapping every word to an E-40 song outside the arena postgame. So just enjoy this thing while it's going. Go to a sports bar wherever you are and watch the game with a few of your newest friends. Buy a Warriors t-shirt and jump in. You'll find that the intensity of the Warriors championship run will mellow you out about the A's.
2. Speculate on future roster moves.
Hindsight is the most maddening thing, ever. We all have many moves that we would take back, plays that we wish had just gone our way, series' that have turned on a dime and are painful to think about...so why bother? Once we know we're losing, and we know why, rehashing it over (and over and over) again is tiresome. A surefire way to be miserable is snipe at one another about trades from last year.
Look to the future, fellow A's fans. Watch the progress of Max Muncy, Billy Burns, Marcus Semien, Mark Canha, four unheralded prospects that actually may turn out to be really good big leaguers. Speculate on possible landing spots for impending free agents. Share your plans for shoring up the A's weaknesses and transforming the squad back into the heavyweight it once was. I can assure you that the brothers and sisters of A's Nation are happy to engage in endless discussions of ways to fix the A's. Rosterbate, multiple times a day.
3. Root against a team
Misery loves company. A's fans all have teams that they want to fail. Giants, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, maybe the Royals, whoever. There's 29 other teams to choose from and they all have reasons for you to hate them. Pick one and root against them. You'll find that you'll learn a lot about other players on other teams and be able to come up with much more interesting trade proposals due to your avid following of your hatee's current opponent. When the A's keep losing you still have something to root for (or more aptly, root against). Your bitterness can be parlayed into an eventful and enjoyable baseball season of your least favorite team hitting the skids. At least it gives you something to watch.
4. Watch minor league baseball games
The problem with a bad baseball season is that it's so long and for most of it there's no other sport going on. You're kind of stuck. But the A's, like every MLB team, have a minor league system with lots of teams that you can follow. No matter where you are in the country you're never too far from a minor league baseball game. Minor league games are cheap, fun, and friendly. Plus there are always crusty scouts with pee-stained khakis to chat up and observe. You don't get the same highs and lows of the A's, but watching young players and prospects is pretty interesting, and minor league team promotions are the best. There's a whole twitter feed dedicated to them!
5. Go to more A's games at the Coliseum
This one might seem counter-intuitive. I'm trying to care about the A's less, so why would I want to go to more games? The short answer is, basically, going to games reminds you that baseball is still fun. The first year I actually bought into an A's season ticket package was 2011. Yes that was at the beginning of year 5 of the Geren Years, after four straight non-winning seasons (they did go 81-81 one year, which wasn't terrible).
For some reason 2011 was so fun. The A's were often in games, but even when they were losing 9-2 you could still heckle the opposing players, commiserate with other fans, get a foul ball that bounced through an entire empty section right to your seat, and cheer on your guys while passing time during the summer, all for a ticket price that's cheaper than a movie.
You can just hang out with your friends and family. It's always a good place to sit down and have a conversation, which is rare nowadays. Going to the ballpark helps keep baseball sacred, and separate love of the game from the general frustration that can follow you like a dark cloud overhead during a losing season.
And hey, who knows, they might pull off a miracle and get back in this thing.
(Just kidding! Don't get your hopes up! No expectations from this point forward!)