The A’s And Sacramento Will Pretend Not To Know Each Other

Maybe the one decent thing to come out of the end of the Oakland Athletics is the announcement that they will not take on the traditional name “Sacramento A’s” while they spend the next three years turning the town’s ball field into a transient hotel. At this point, who’d want that on their civic résumé?

So yeah, they’re just going to be “the Athletics” or “the A’s,” a tribute to the old ABA Minnesota Muskies, an original franchise that moved south to become the Miami Floridians in their second year, and dropped the Miami part in year four to become just the Floridians in time to die in year five. Here’s hoping artlessness imitates art.

By now, everything that can be said about John Fisher, the failson’s failson, has been said, and all of it has been derogatory even to the point of ESPN anchors dragging him on air just because his only accomplishment in 19 years has been to help parents convince their disobedient children that there actually is such a thing as lumps of coal in Christmas stockings, and then show a picture of him as proof. I mean, ESPN never drags owners, especially ones who own teams in leagues with which they have broadcast deals, but his work has been so exemplary in this field that the only unpleasant idea about ripping him is that it too closely resembles backing over a dead squirrel in the road—easy to the point of being gratuitous.

But give the man this: His strategy of waiting indolently for the kindness of strangers to shake him from his organizational torpor has at least got him 80 miles closer to Nevada. Not technically Sacramento, mind you, but West Sacramento, the location of the minor-league ballpark owned by Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, who did Fisher a needless solid in exchange for, well, it wasn’t good will he’ll be getting. Fisher’s basic personality void prevents that from being plausible motivation for anyone.

But at the current pace of stadium construction in Las Vegas (zero cubic feet of excavation per day), the A’s will be stuck in Sacramento’s version of Mullett Arena for some years, all while pretending they’re not actually there. They are indeed closer to becoming the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who lasted barely half a season before abandoning all pretenses and played all their remaining games on the road. The novelty of major league baseball in, well, near Sacramento will erode quickly, especially when the owner begins his tenure by extolling the virtues of Aaron Judge, who grew up less than 100 miles away, but none of the players under his own employ, almost certainly because he doesn’t know any of them. He has spite-owned this team for nearly 20 years, and is now actively shunning it in public, as well as the city he will be playing in for the foreseeable future, all while trying to pretend it has sufficient intrinsic value to become a beacon of commerce in Las Vegas.

To be fair, Fisher has managed to ameliorate Oakland’s pain in losing the team by destroying its fan base and making the players he doesn’t know unintended co-conspirators in his campaign of villainy through neglect. They actually won’t be missed when they leave, even though there is no chance the town will ever get another team. Indeed, the only thing left on the franchise’s agenda is the length of time it takes for West Sacramento to sour on their presence as Oakland has. In that way, Fisher actually has done someone a decent turn in this saga, by keeping an innocent town’s name off the paperwork. Would that he had extended the same courtesy to Aaron Judge.

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