This article by Harvey Araton I thought was interesting.
Cheers to the Yankees, Thanks to the A's
By HARVEY ARATON
hat's your favorite baseball
"You know I grew up in New York
City, rooting for the Yankees."
"What's your second-favorite team?"
"Second favorite? I'd have to say it
was this team they're playing today,
the Oakland A's."
"Oakland? Why Oakland?"
"Well, first of all, when I was a kid,
the A's were in Kansas City, where
they'd moved from Philadelphia.
They weren't very good, but they
were like cousins to the Yankees.
Whenever the Yankees needed a good player to help them win
the pennant, they'd call up Kansas City, and, presto, just like a
pizza, the player was delivered."
"Like Roger Maris, who hit 61 home runs in 1961, breaking Babe
"Why'd the A's just give the Yankees a guy who could hit 61
"It was about money. The A's were one of the poorer teams and
the Yankees, just like now, could afford to pay more good
"Did the A's stop giving the Yankees players when they went to
"Actually, for a while, they did. The Oakland A's in the early
1970's were, in fact, a great team, the best of that decade. They
won three straight World Series and five straight American
League West titles. They had an owner named Charles O. Finley
who was a little nutty but was always willing to try new things,
like orange baseballs. They had an amazing cast of colorful
players who wore cool mustaches. They had pitchers named
Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue, Blue Moon Odom and Rollie
Fingers. They also had Reggie Jackson, one of the best all-time
sluggers and bigmouths. Plus, in 1973, they did all of us Yankee
fans a huge favor by beating the Mets in the World Series."
"What happened after that?"
"The Yankees wound up taking Catfish and eventually getting
Reggie, then they won the World Series."
"So, even in Oakland, the A's were like the Yankees' cousins, and
they were lousy again?"
"For a few years. People stopped going to their games. One
season, a student-run college radio station had to broadcast the
games for a while. But, as the A's general manager, Billy Beane,
told me the other day, `The A's selling off players goes all the
way back to Connie Mack in Philadelphia, but they have always
been one of the most innovative franchises in baseball.' By the
early 1980's, their farm system had produced three really good
outfielders — Rickey Henderson, Dwayne Murphy and Tony
Armas. They played the aggressive style, Billyball, of their
manager, Billy Martin, who had also been with the Yankees. The
A's made the playoffs but lost to the Yankees and then. . . ."
"Don't tell me, the Yankees took their best player?"
"You got it. Henderson eventually joined the Yankees and the
manager, Martin, rejoined them. But even well into the era when
players were leaving for the rich teams as well as being traded to
them, the A's managed to build another excellent team. They had
the Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire."
"That Mark McGwire?"
"The very one. He was on the A's team that won three straight
A.L. pennants and won the 1989 World Series, a Subway Series
like ours last year. The A's won four straight games over San
Francisco, which is a bigger, richer, more glamorous city across
the bay. The A's beating the Giants in the World Series is like the
Nets beating the Knicks in the N.B.A. finals."
"You were a sports columnist by then. Did you ever cover the
"As a matter of fact, I covered the first two games of that Bay area
Series in Oakland. Then, before Game 3 in San Francisco, a huge
earthquake struck. People died. I was quite lucky that evening. I
might have been on a double-decker freeway that collapsed had
a friend not called to pick me up just as I was about to leave my
hotel in Oakland to drive over to his house in Berkeley."
"Then what happened?"
"The Series was delayed for more than a week. I stayed to write
about the earthquake. The A's best pitcher, Dave Stewart, who
was from Oakland, gave me a tour of the poor and heavily
damaged neighborhood he'd grown up in. After that, I always
rooted for Stewart and didn't mind seeing the A's do well
because they always seemed to be struggling for fans in a city
that fell on hard times, and with owners who were losing money.
The poor A's even had to trade McGwire to St. Louis just before
he hit 70 home runs. So they traded Maris, who broke Ruth's
record, and McGwire, who broke Maris's. With all that and
everything else, the A's, with 14 World Series appearances, are
the second-most successful A.L. franchise, behind the Yankees."
"Will they ever keep their players?"
"As Beane, the general manager, said, `Part of the job description
in Oakland is the unknown, but, here, the glass is always
half-full.' The A's have this guy, Jason Giambi, who's a great
power hitter, and some excellent young pitchers. They almost
beat the Yankees in the playoffs last season and could very well
beat them this time in October."
"Giambi will be a free agent after the season. What do you