I watched an A’s game for the first time in over a month yesterday; valiantly attempting to push aside the oozing slime of human conduct from leaking into my baseball brain. Why, you ask? Well, let me put it simply: in the past 25 years income has gone down for 18-35 year olds and student loan debt is at an all time high. We had 3 trillion in bailout money, income inequality and the homeless problem are greater than ever and the general public at large feels scammed by the political system. We, as a country are facing a financial and social crisis and sometimes all we have is a few leisurely hours of escape watching the game that we love–and as Oakland fans even THAT was taken away.
We as A’s fans have been reduced to watching a downsized and dispossessed baseball team. Our hopes are pulverized, our ambitions starved because of despicable ownership, led by Lew Wolff, who have no interest in giving us respite from the social ills that I have spoken about above. This is not only an inferior product, but one molded by the hands of the elite in order to maximize profit. They laugh all the way to the bank while we blindly pledge allegiance. You can see this as holier-than-thou ballyhoo or an insidious prediction on our future, nevertheless I leave you with the immortal words of Joe Strummer, singer of The Clash as a message to Athletics’ ownership, “Go straight to hell, boy.”
I wasn’t exactly thrilled nor agitated when I heard about the Athletics signing free agent Billy Butler to a 3 year, 30 million dollar deal. He was fun to watch when the Royals made their run to the World Series, yet in the end he is nothing more than one of those charismatic players that fair-weather fans clamor for (that shtick may work in KC, but not in Oakland–where you must produce) but really doesn’t add much to your team. Obviously the Athletics are hoping that he returns to his 2012 form when he hit 29 dingers with 107 RBI’s.
Butler’s stats last season were unacceptable for someone who plays DH/1B with only 9 HR’s. I’m not sure where the Bill James disciples stand on the issue, but I stand firm on my belief that the hot corners should have a little bit of pop. (he has–in James’ terminology– “old player skills,” which means someone who hits for average, is slow and not overly dependent on the home run.) As readers of this blog may or may not know, I am NOT a big fan of plodding players that clog the bases, essentially making them worthless base-runners unless they get on with no outs–the Bobby Hill look-alike also grounds into a lot of double plays leading the league twice.
In the end, the Oakland ball-club is paying a player that may have had his best days behind him the highest that he’s EVER going to be payed. It’s a classic case of giving a player his money for stats that haven’t been produced for your team and that may never be re-produced. Let the fans have fun and kick the tires on their new car for a while, yet I see no reason to get over-stimulated. (my cup of coffee did that quite well) This is nothing more than change for the sake of change…or perhaps owner Lew Wolff wants to pacify the fans who think of him as Satan by “giving a dog a bone.”