Oakland, CA

An elegy for the A's

Clay Kallam

Photo byCaitlin Conner for Unsplash

“We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together …”

T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

The Oakland A’s are a dismal collection of Quad A players who are giving this lameduck team and its abandoned fans the best they have.

It’s just not very good.

Presumably, though, the law of averages will come into play and the A’s will rise to the usual level of bad teams: Winning one out of three and coming close to avoiding 100 losses.

We could run down the roster, and describe out the flaws of this infielder and that reliever, but what’s the point? Owner John Fisher has never cared about putting a competitive team on the field, and pointing fingers at the young men wearing green and gold is aiming at the wrong target. If Fisher had cared at all about Oakland and the A’s, he would have spent some of his billions on the product on the field. Instead, he trolled for taxpayer money so he could get even richer.

“This is the dead land

This is cactus land …”

Well, actually it’s possum land. Or rat land. Or sewage overflow land.

It’s called the Oakland Coliseum, and it’s a sad shadow of what it once was. But the City of Oakland, in its infinite stupidity, crushed the spirit of the place to give another greedy owner, Al Davis, a reason to come “home.”

Ever since Mt. Davis went up, it seems, the energy inside the Coliseum turned dark. Even the drums couldn’t help, as the flaws of the multipurpose facility were magnified when the view of the Oakland hills disappeared behind a huge wall of empty seats.

“The eyes are not here

There are no eyes here

In this valley of dying stars …”

And really, who wants to watch? In Kansas City, say, fans can feel the Royals at least have a plan. They may be awful right now, but the cycles of sports say that someday, somehow, the good times will return.

But even the most faithful A’s fan had to admit that Fisher’s only plan was to maximize profit, and that depressing internal admission came years ago. So who goes to A’s games? What is there to see?

The players try. The manager plans. The fans want to cheer.

But the other team is, simply, better. Line drives and home runs rocket off the bat. A’s pitchers struggle – they walked 17 (17?!) in one game – and give up double-digit run totals regularly.

“In this last of meeting places

We grope together

And avoid speech …”

What is there to say, really? The essence of fandom is hope, hope that victory is imminent, that faith will be rewarded.

Clearly, John Fisher is unconcerned with such niceties. His hope is that he will make more money; his faith is that if Las Vegas will pay a large portion of the cost of his sparkling new stadium.

The rest of the 2023 season will attract some, like me, who will stop by for a game just to remember how it used to be. But even so, the stands will remain forlornly empty for most games, echoing with cheers for the other team, and distant reminders of the good times.

Fittingly, the A’s will end the season on a six-game road trip, placing the final games in Oakland against almost equally hapless Detroit. The last pitch at the Coliseum will be thrown Sunday, Sept. 24, late in the afternoon, by an anonymous pitcher few have ever heard of.

“This the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but with a whimper.”

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Clay Kallam is a lifelong East Bay resident who spent several decades in local journalism -- and still writes for Diablo Magazine (among others). Over the years, he has covered just about every aspect of life in the Bay Area, from rock-and-roll to the arts to political coverage to food to sports. On the food front, he does not claim to be a critic, but rather someone who enjoys a good meal, a well-made drink and a nice red wine. As for sports, he has written for national publications (including Sports Illustrated and Slam) and covers girls' basketball across the nation for MaxPreps. He is a high school coach and a serious fan of the local teams -- and savored every minute of the Giants' and Warriors' championships. He graduated from Acalanes, UC Santa Barbara (ancient history) and Cal (philosophy). He lives in Walnut Creek with his wife Maggi, who takes many of the food photos. He appreciates his readers and is always happy to talk about anything he's written. His food experiences can be found at #dishdining on Instagram, and emails can be sent to claykallam@gmail.com.

Walnut Creek, CA

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