A Giants’ Fan’s Perspective on the Oakland Athletics

Kyle Ohlin, of Oakland, is part of a very vocal but small group of fans watching from left field during the Oakland A’s game against the Blue Jays in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The Battle of the Bay is a rivalry full of irony. There have been some interesting, ironic contrasts between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics in the past few years. The rivalry isn’t as heated and competitive as the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, for example, but it has become intriguing because of these two teams’ records, the attendance at their stadiums, and their fans.

In 2010, the Giants went on a significant run in the last couple months of the season to steal the NL West from the San Diego Padres and sneak into the playoffs. They finished with a 92-70 record, and, as we know, the Giants won the World Series in 2010. The A’s finished the 2010 season with a 81-81 record, and they didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

In 2011, the Bay Area didn’t see great baseball from either team. The Giants went 86-76, but they didn’t qualify for the playoffs. The A’s went 74-88 and didn’t make the playoffs either.

Both teams started playing quality baseball again in 2012. The A’s went on an incredible run towards the end of the season, just like the Giants did in 2010. They stole the AL West title from the Texas Rangers and finished with a 94-68 record. They matched up with the Detroit Tigers in their divisional playoff series. They put up a good fight, but, unfortunately, lost the series 3-2.

May 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28, right) hits a single in front of home plate umpire Brian Knight (91) and Oakland Athletics catcher John Jaso (5, center) during the fifth inning at AT

The Giants also finished with a 94-68 record. They faced a total of six elimination games in the playoffs. After their torturous first two rounds of the playoffs, the Giants swept the Tigers to win their second World Series title in three seasons.

This brings us to the 2013 season. Here’s where the irony comes in. The Giants entered the 2013 season with a very similar roster to the one that earned them a World Series title last year. Despite that, they’ve had a disappointing 2013 season. They are currently 59-74 and 19 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. They have faced a multitude of injuries to some key players, but their problems extend way beyond that.

The A’s, on the other hand, have been doing well all season and currently have a 75-57 record. As of now, they are 2.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Despite playing quality baseball all season, A’s fans haven’t been showing up to games as much as they should be. Ironically, the A’s rank 25th in all of MLB in terms of average attendance this year. On average, only 22,766 A’s fans attend each game, which is just embarrassing given how well the team has played this season.

The Giants have never had trouble getting fans to attend games, even this season when they’ve played so poorly. The Giants rank third in MLB with an average of 41,655 fans attending each game.

Part of this discrepancy in attendance is due to the fact that the A’s have one of the oldest, most run-down stadiums in all of MLB. The A’s have had several issues with O.co Coliseum over the years, including the actual playing field, the tarp, sewage, etc.

May 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52, right) hits a RBI-triple to score center fielder Coco Crisp (4, not pictured) in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28, left) during the first inning at AT

In contrast, the Giants have arguably the best stadium in all of MLB. AT&T Park is constantly rated one of the best stadiums in MLB because of its picturesque views and certain attractions within the park like the Coca-Cola bottle and the giant glove.

In addition to how these two teams have played on the field in the past few years, there have been some interesting contrasts off the field too. It seems as if most A’s fans strongly dislike the Giants and their fans. Whereas, it seems as if many Giants fans don’t have a strong opinion of A’s fans. With that being said, some Giants and A’s fans are fans of both teams or just view it as a friendly rivalry.

Personally, I don’t hate the A’s or their fans. I find that some A’s fans can be overly bitter towards Giants fans though. However, I believe that A’s fans mostly dislike the bandwagon Giants fans, who became fans when the Giants started winning in 2010 or 2012 and aren’t quite as knowledgeable and dedicated as diehard fans. I don’t blame them for being bothered by bandwagon Giants fans, but they must recognize that not all Giants fans are bandwagon fans.

One of my best friends is an A’s fan. She’s taught me a lot about the A’s and their fans, and, I have to admit, she’s changed my opinion of their organization as a whole. I have a greater appreciation now for the team and their fans. Not that I used to hate the A’s, but I certainly thought the Giants were superior, mostly because I was born a Giants fan.

My friend and I are diehard, lifelong fans of our respective teams, but our friendship proves that we can still appreciate the other person’s passion for their team, even if we disagree or dislike the other team. I respect her love of the A’s, because she’s been a fan her whole life. If you are a lifelong fan of a team, I respect you, no matter what team you’re rooting for. Ok, maybe except if you’re a Dodger fan.

As with any rivalry though, no matter how intense it is, I do believe that Bay Area fans should be fans of one team or the other. I personally don’t understand how some people can be fans of both teams. There can be respect for the other team, but that’s not the same as being a fan of the team.

I would possibly root for the A’s in the playoffs against another AL opponent. However, if they make it to the World Series, I will most likely root for the NL team, except if it’s an NL West rival. If the A’s and the Giants ever played each other in the World Series, I wouldn’t say, “I’ll be happy with whoever wins, because I’m just happy that a Bay Area team will win.” No way.

I bleed orange and black. Although I have a greater appreciation for the green and gold than I used to, I will continue to be a diehard Giants fan for the rest of my life, no matter what their record is.

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