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Elephant Rumblings: Bay Bridge series attendance whips Dave Kaval into a Twitter frenzy

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Happy Thursday, Athletics Nation!

The first two games of the 2022 Bay Bridge Series have come and gone, with the A’s splitting a win and a loss. But the usual playful competitiveness ratcheted up a bit, as Athletics President Dave Kaval took to Twitter to try and defend the Coliseum’s lagging attendance numbers by pointing the same finger at the Giants.

Kaval has amped up the Bay Area baseball rivalry in previous years as the face of some playful promotions. In 2018 and 2019, he was at the front of the line to help fans trade their Giants caps in for fresh A’s hats. This came after Kaval had curried A’s fans favour upon joining the team in late 2016, and immediately opened up his office door for meetings and suggestions from fans. The goodwill earned from his early acts has been increasingly overspent over the last few seasons though, as the A’s stadium attempts have become drawn out and Kaval’s public courtship of Las Vegas has driven down his popularity as the A’s figurehead.

Kaval’s notoriety has reached a peak in 2022 as he has been more vocal than ever, especially on his Twitter account. While many of his discussion topics have been productive like demystifying the ballpark politics and process, defending the A’s choices and their fans, and encouraging local and national press to focus on the Athletics more, but there’s also been increased willingness for Kaval to engage with some of those critics more often on Twitter.

During Tuesday’s game, Kaval took to a photo posted by Coliseum fixture Hal the Hot Dog Guy. While Hal’s photo from Oracle Park was largely innocuous, Kaval sprung on the visibly empty outfield seats in the picture. As noted by Jon Schultz of the San Francisco Chronicle, Hal’s tweet was posted over a half hour before first pitch, a time when even the Coliseum would be patchily filled on its busiest nights.

Kaval dug into the topic for the rest of the game, quote-tweeting many detractors with either deflecting retorts or calls for the San Francisco media to cover the Giants’ attendance with the same vitriol he faced during the A’s first homestand. While the Giants attendance was sparser than a sellout for sure, it was still much fuller than the crowds the A’s saw last week. The announced attendance (based off tickets sold) at Oracle Park was 32,858 and plenty of pictures from mid-game show a moderately full stadium. Even a low guess of a 16,000ish actual attendance is still four times what the A’s saw when they hosted the Orioles the previous Tuesday.

Not to say that there aren’t a lot of other contributing factors to both teams’ attendance figures game-to-game and series-to-series, but for Kaval to dig his heels in on the Giants’ crowd is an overly defensive and pretty bad look for a guy whose popularity has waned among a lot of A’s fans. To celebrate the amount of A’s fans watching across the bay or to promote a pro-Howard Terminal statement and not mention his oft-mentioned parallel paths line would probably be much more positive time spent on Twitter for Kaval, but instead he’s setting up debates about the A’s media coverage.

During yesterday’s game Kaval was silent on Twitter, only reengaging with one of his Tuesday detractors after the A’s win. Before the game he talked to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle and defended his tweets, largely contextualizing them as encouraging both teams to have thriving crowds. While that may have been the intent, it didn’t come out that way in the initial flurry of quote tweets.

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