The Oakland Athletics stand on a unique precipice of history

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. –  With another glorious chapter, this team would like to “make history” again. At the same time, the current version of the Oakland Athletics is keenly aware of “history,” past successes, how the franchise evolved and the next chapter.

With a history that began with Connie Mack named manager in 1901, the Philadelphia-Kanas City-Oakland franchise is steep in history, a myriad of Hall-of-Fame players and an unsettling history of multiple moves. The latest could come within the next several months and that’s when the “t’s” are crossed and i’s” are dotted for another franchise relocation.

This journey through the history books is filled with names, events, and narratives indigenous to the annual of the game. Now, there is a venture afoot across northern California to the desert of Nevada. In the creation of and movement within franchises, represents a never-ending quest for modernity and convenience as much as stability.

Over the past decades, the Oakland Coliseum, with its lack of amenities for fans and players, has been the catalyst for some kind of exit. That was notable when the original Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982, back to Oakland in 1994, and now permanently to Las Vegas in 2020. Now, the A’s will likely follow the Raiders to Las Vegas. seek construction of a 30,000-seat stadium on the southern end of the famed Strip and on site of the imploded Tropicana Hotel.

With the move, there is a clear sense of history within the organization. This clearly represents an appreciation for Connie Mack, Jimmy Foxx, and Lefty Grove in Philadelphia, to move of industrialist Arnold Johnson to Kansas City, and the success of manager Dick Williams in the 1970s in the Bay area.

“We are very aware of the history of success here with players, great teams, and the World Series,” said As’ outfielder Brent Rooker before a series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night. “We are aware of that stuff and despite whatever happens with the move (to Las Vegas), we’ll continue the legacy of having good players and success.”

While the players may be aware of triumphs, dusting off the history book reveals word championships of 1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1920, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1980 are part of the legacy.  Perhaps a 23-33 start after their initial 56 games in 2024 may not make a direct path into the history books. Still, there is an appreciation of the past and optimism that this heritage can continue.

“From a player’s perspective, what you are really concerned about and focus is where this franchise is going,” said Oakland manager Mark Kotsay before Tuesday’s game with the Rays. “The concern is not necessarily where this franchise has been. You are focused on your career and that’s real.”

Then, Kotsay noted the dynamics of the past.

“There is value in the guys who have been here before and laid the foundation for the franchise” he added. “You’re looking at Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Carney Lansford, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, and I’m leaving many out. All of those guys had a part in building this franchise to what it is today. (In the series at Tampa), you’ll see fans with Oakland A’s hats, and you will see some fans who are still a part of the fan base. That’s true and that’s been moved from Philly to Kansas City, to Oakland, and again in the future.”

Despite team colors from blue and white while in Philadelphia to green and gold in Oakland, there is one constant reminder of the evolution of this franchise. On the left sleeve of the A’s uniform, whether in home white or road grey, the original logo of an elephant balanced on a baseball is stitched into the uniform. In a broader sense, the inheritance and tradition of this franchise dating back to the days of Connie Mack remains indelible.

Elsewhere on the diamond …

To be or not to be … Rays’ manager Kevin Cash would likely echo another signature line from William Shakespeare. In reference to the lengthy chronicle surrounding Tampa Bay outfielder Randy Arozarena, Cash would simply offer, “much ado about nothing.” That would come with apologies to the Bard.

For the opening two months of the season, Arozarena has been the subject of protracted discussions. His batting average continues to trend below .180 and Arozarena has been dropped by Cash from his normal perch of hitting from the number two hole to number six.

Recently, a local Tampa writer suggested that Arozarena be sent to the minors and allow periods of time in a relatively easy comfort zone to address his lengthy struggles. To that end, Cash echoed this amount to that “much ado about nothing.”

“Randy is a really talented player and he’s going through a very tough period,” Cash pointed out before Tuesday’s game with Oakland. “He knows that, and we know that. I think the best thing we can do is get him to be the best player he has been for four, five years for us. He’s one of our best players and our most consistent. At the end of the year, you’ll look up and he is a model of consistency. He plays a full season where he gets his home runs, his stolen bases and he’s productive. So, we just have to get him going here.”

Despite a 1-3 night on Tuesday against Oakland, Arozarena did not hit the ball out of the infield. After two grounders to short, he managed an infield single to lead off the eight. He was doubled up on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of catcher Ben Rortvedt. For the season, Arozarena was hitting .159 (31-for-195, 14 extra-base hits) for his first 195 plate appearances.

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