For my latest English assignment, I was told to write and deliver a persuasive speech about any topic I wanted. Naturally, I immediately chose to talk about baseball, but I didn’t really know how I could persuade my class about it (besides that the White Sox are the most awesome team in the league, of course). Finally, my mind turned to many conversations I had had with my dad, who firmly believes in contracting the league. His arguments always make sense to me, and I decided it would be fun to research a specific team and talk about “dissolving” it.
The next step was to choose which team to talk about. Teams that immediately came to mind were the Rays, Marlins, and Diamondbacks, but had upon remembering that each team was either a) very successful in recent years, b) about to move into a new and more hospitable stadium, or c) were slated to host this year’s All-Star game, I realized that the evidence was against. Finally, after reading columns by the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden and Sports Illustrated’s Phil Taylor, I settled on the Oakland A’s. Below is the speech I will be delivering on Thursday. I hope that it sparks some interesting discussion about underperforming teams and league contraction. Oh, and I know I get a wee bit dramatic in some parts, but keep in mind that I will be giving this to my English teacher, who will be grading me largely on my use of pathos, logos, and ethos. Enjoy!
Baseball is one of this country’s favorite sports, beloved by children and adults alike. It is a game steeped in history, in tradition, and most noticeably, in pride. The pride of the players and management is entirely necessary, but what baseball relies on most of all is the pride of its fans. Fans who will pack the stadiums on a freezing October night to cheer on their team. Fans who will endure high ticket and concession prices to get a glimpse of their heroes. Fans who will keep up with their team, listen to them on the radio, support them through whatever means possible.
The majority of the 30 franchises in Major League Baseball have that sort of fan base, a sort of support that allows the league to keep existing. However, there are a few exceptions, and one glaring blemish is the Oakland Athletics franchise, better known as the A’s. The A’s, located in a crime-ridden, impoverished area of Oakland, have a minimal fan base, which in turn has crippled the franchise in many ways. Worse still, the A’s have few resources to revive their bleak situation, making their hole seem deeper and deeper. With the league’s commissioner and other management seemingly unable to do anything with the club besides wastefully pour money into it, it seems as if all the A’s are doing are stealing the league’s limited resources that could be much better spent elsewhere. Therefore, the clear answer to the A’s dilemma is to dissolve the franchise.
Revenue is a precious statistic in baseball. The figure represents how much money a team makes in a season, which they then use to pay players and maintain general upkeep of the club. However, in order to turn a sizeable profit, most teams only opt to spend a portion of their revenue on player payroll. The lower the team’s revenue, the less a team pays each player, which as a result prevents the league’s stars from signing with low-revenue clubs. In 2010, the A’s only posted $161 million in revenue. By comparison, the top revenue in 2010 was $427 million, or about triple that of the A’s. With so few financial resources, the A’s have been unable to land a top player that will propel the team to success, and most importantly, attract the fans that the team desperately needs to break this defeating cycle.
Yes, fans, the most important piece to increasing revenue and thus climbing out of the league cellar. Sadly, the A’s simply do not have a fan base that supports them and allows them to thrive. In 2010, the franchise posted the second-lowest attendance figures and TV ratings, and on average, filled only about 36% of the seats in their stadium. Even more humiliating, the A’s did not have a radio deal in place until 24 hours before Opening Day, when they agreed to let a country music station broadcast their games. Furthermore, the 2010 World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants play quality ball in a beautiful stadium right across the bay, attracting many Bay Area residents who might otherwise turn their attention to Oakland. Described by Sports Illustrated columnist Phil Taylor as “a sibling who’s the valedictorian, captain of the football team, and lead in the school play,” the A’s simply can’t compete with the Giants, especially in a two-team market that is only the 15th most populated metropolitan area in the country. Located in an impoverished, crime-ridden part of the Bay Area, there is simply not large enough of a demographic to attract substantial numbers of fans to both the Giants and the A’s. Situated in a less affluent and central part of the metropolis, it is the A’s franchise that suffers.
The A’s might be able to attract more fans, and increase their revenue, if they were in a more hospitable stadium. Although the stadium is located in one of the more unsafe parts of the city, that is not an insurmountable problem, as many franchises throughout the league still draw attendance despite an undesirable location. The issue at hand is that the stadium itself is an inhospitable environment for both spectators and players. The A’s play at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, originally designed for the Oakland Raiders football team. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, players frequently complain about the quality of the playing surface, which has suffered great wear due to the constant changes from football to baseball. Additionally, since the stadium was built for football purposes, a lot of the team’s facilities for training and other activities are subpar. Says team owner Lew Wolff, “There are 28 teams in top-notch facilities. Only two are not, and we’re one of them.” Unfortunately, there is no place for the A’s to go. Other spots within Oakland are not available, and a proposed stadium plan in nearby Fremont fell through. A prime location would be San Jose, but the Giants have a minor league affiliate in the city and thus claim territorial rights. The case has been sent to league offices, but has been under review for close to three years. With relocation prospects bleak, the A’s have to continue to play at the Coliseum, a concrete structure that does nothing to attract fans, and thus cannot help with increasing that miniscule revenue.
What the A’s situation boils down to is a lack of money, and a complete dearth of resources to help increase it. League commissioner Bud Selig and other officials are powerless when it comes to reviving this hopeless franchise. An anonymous league executive was once quoted as saying, “It’s not fair that all the other teams in baseball should have to subsidize a team in a hopeless situation when its own fan base can’t or won’t support them.” With that in mind, it is in the best interest of Major League Baseball to dissolve the franchise, before the situation becomes a toxin that weighs down the league as a whole, and makes the wonderful sport of baseball less enjoyable for fans of all franchises nationwide.
Good evening, folks, and welcome to tonight’s edition of ChiSox Nightly. We have a very entertaining show planned for you tonight, but first, let’s start with a little trivia question, shall we?
Who is very nervous about Jake Peavy’s season debut tonight?
a) Jake Peavy
b) Catherine, the esteemed author of the fine blog The Wizard of Ozzie
c) That random fan in the stands with mustard on his shirt
If you selected choice “b”, then you are correct! Thank you for playing, and please, stay tuned for more exciting news!
Yep, so tonight is the big night. Peavy steps on the mound for the first time in 10 months, facing the Angels. (Note: Peavy’s injury came against the Angels. Coincidence much?) As exciting as it is to have the guy who is supposedly our “ace” back on the squad, I must admit that I am more nervous than anything else. Peavy hasn’t exactly been a master of control since arriving in Chicago, and coming off of major surgery, I’m afraid of the same old same old. We don’t need our star failing miserably in his debut. That would just rub more salt in the wound. And anyways, I’m liking this Philip Humber kid and his 2.97 ERA. Can’t he stick around for just a little while longer?
For my English class, I have to give a persuasive speech about any topic I want. My teacher suggested that we choose a topic that we are passionate about, and of course, the two things that popped into my head were art and baseball. Not really sure what I could say about art (besides persuading everyone to like it), I turned to baseball. And so, inspired by recent columns by Bill Madden of the New York Daily News and Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated, I chose to talk about why the Oakland A’s should be dissolved. Believe it or not, I found many valid reasons, and I am looking forward to crafting this speech. When it is done, I will post it on here. I’m looking forward to reading other people’s thoughts and opinions on my idea.