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An accidental year off baseball

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics
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Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Last year was the first year I didn’t have an A’s season ticket package since 2010.

I first signed on for A’s season tickets before year five of the “Geren Years.” I think “2011 A’s season ticket salesperson” was probably in the top 10 toughest jobs, somewhere between the Deadliest Catch guys and Coach Carter. I often wonder how many (few?) people decided to jump in and buy A’s tickets that year. Of course, it turned out that the timing was fortuitous. We were soon treated to the wonderful yet torturous 2012-2014 seasons. Once the team was unceremoniously and unnecessarily dismantled I slogged through the 2015 season going to a few dozen more games.

However, with ownership crapping all over everything on and off the field, motivation to continue was at an all time low. I started to finally tire of answering questions like “Wait, what happened to [insert player name]?” I became a parent and it was an easy excuse to drop my season tickets for 2016. Thus started my unintentional year off from baseball.

After 30000+ comments and over 300 posts/articles I just kind of fell off this site as well. I barely caught any games on the radio. For the first year in as long as I can remember, I did not attend an A’s game. I actually didn’t attend any baseball game. I once had dreams of dressing my (then-imaginary) kids in A’s gear. I didn’t even buy ‘em a onesie. I didn’t show up to my fantasy baseball draft and didn’t look at my team all year (yes I was that guy. Sorry).

Naturally a large part of my focus was in the new parent tornado but even aside from that, it’s not like I didn’t have time to follow along. I guess maybe I filled that minimal free time following the presidential election. However, as I descended further into the cesspool of post-election headlines and Facebook politics hell, there was finally one bit of good news that brought me back.

Much has been said and written about it, but the demotion and unceremonious exit of Lew Wolff as the face of the [We Wish We Weren’t in] Oakland A’s to make way for the overwhelmingly positive Dave Kaval was nothing short of transformational. I started to pay attention to what was happening. Finally someone was running the A’s who clearly loved them as much as I did.

I was inspired enough to write this to him on December 14th:

I am a longtime avid A’s fan. My sister and I shared a season ticket account from 2011 through 2015. We did not renew it for the 2016 season.

Some of it was personal, my wife and I adopted children and had a child of our own, all in 2016, and my sister started medical school, so it was tough. The other part though was just that interest waned in the team. Yet again the team was going nowhere, favorite players on the trading block, etc. etc. Again and again, going from a competitive, loaded team full of talent to a feeder team for the rest of MLB.

Listen, I know how it goes. I am a die hard fan. I don’t expect us to dole out 10 year/200 mil contracts. I understand what it means to be an A’s fan, that we have to live with the roster turnover, etc., but I never understood the defeatist nature of what we saw in 2015 and 2016.

2016 was the first year I can remember living in the Bay Area and not going to an A’s game. I felt sad at the end of the year that I had so little interest after just being insanely obsessed for years.

Lew Wolff’s repeated comments were so disheartening, about how “we can’t compete” and “we can’t build it”. The defeatist attitude he displayed rubbed off on the entire organization. Players, fans, coaches, front office (except, God bless him, Bob Melvin, who tried to maintain as best he could).

Anyway I just wanted to say that I have been so pleased with the management changes, and at the top of the welcome changes is having you as President. I am excited about the A’s again and I plan to get a season ticket package again next year after not attending a game in 2016 at all. I live in San Francisco but would BART in to the games as often as I could. With the 3 babies it will be tougher but I want to show my support for the positive moves you are making in the community, to the city of Oakland, and also to the team. I see an attitude of “we will get it done” from you. I have very little spare time nowadays but I wanted to get this email out to you.

Lastly, I wanted to thank you for helping the families of those lost in the Ghost Ship fire. Many people I know lost people there, the Bay Area music community was hit hard and I am thankful that the A’s did their part (also rallying other teams to the cause).

I assumed a PR person would answer that email address. It was actually him personally writing back. And he wrote back in 6 minutes with an email that showed he read my note and he responded to everything I brought up (the email was actually a bit longer than the above).

Aside from actually being heard out, it felt good to re-commit to baseball in writing.

As Opening Day approached I felt that familiar giddiness, but there was a little something extra. The Raiders had literally just announced their exit, and the A’s had affirmed their commitment to Oakland. I wondered, after a year away, how would it feel?

There were lots of changes, to be sure. Food trucks! Tavern! Rickey Henderson Field! Heck, they even killed the magnetic opening day schedule in favor of the classier pennant.

Hopping off BART, seeing the raging tailgate parties, familiar ticket scalpers, getting to the seat and hearing the PIZZA!!! dude, watching the bleachers as crazy as ever, the place felt like the warm cocoon of home.

Of course, there was a bit of an edge as the A’s officially became Oakland’s team. The fans were definitely aware of the “under new management” Oakland A’s. Lots of them mentioned Kaval by name, and it struck me that it was rare to hear any fanbase talk about a front office guy that’s not the owner or GM.

Naturally, my entry back into baseball wouldn’t be complete without jumping back into this fine community. Emerging from the depths of social media, I’ve never been more thankful for the no politics rule here. It’s literally the only place online I can just enjoy baseball for being baseball, and a community of people who love the A’s and the game like I do, without annoying reality butting in.

Sitting in the stands on opening day I reconnected with that valuable escape.

Which brings me to the point of all this. A year off baseball just makes your life less good. Because baseball is awesome. There is literally no point to taking a year off baseball. I know how it happened but I don’t know why. However it will never happen again.

Here’s to another year of peeing in troughs!