Oct 9, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans do the Balfour rage as relief pitcher Grant Balfour (not pictured) enters the game against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning of game three of the 2012 ALDS at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics Deemed Inferior by San Francisco Chronicle... Sun Also Rises

It’s not often that anything in the newspaper catches my eye these days, except for the always exceptional work of Athletics beat writer Susan Slusser.  So when something does get my attention, it is usually something pretty remarkable in some respect.  This Sunday’s edition of the San Francisco Chronicle featured a piece written by their fearless sports editor Al Saracevic that was especially galling.

The piece was a position by position rundown of the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, with tiny blurbs for each one explaining his opinions as to which team boasts the superior player at the given spot.  I probably don’t even have to tell you that of the 12 categories outlined, the Giants were deemed superior in 8 of them.  In this case though it wasn’t the mere fact that they were chosen over the A’s, it was the reasoning behind it that struck a nerve with me.

As A’s fans, we are no strangers to some feelings that may be categorized as an inferiority complex.  While the Athletics have historically been a more successful team, won more championships (9 to 7), more division titles (15 to 8), the Giants were here first and play in the city thought to be the crown jewel of this region, so they are seen as superior.  It’s a reality that Athletics fans have to face on a daily basis as they proudly support their team.  While Saracevic pleads with us to accept him as an unbiased arbitor of superiority, the gushing praise of the Giants throughout this article say otherwise.

So the breakdown of his choices is as follows:

Catcher: Buster Posey over John Jaso/Derek Norris

1st Base: Brandon Moss over Brandon Belt

2nd Base: Marco Scutaro over Eric Sogard

3rd Base: Pablo Sandoval over Josh Donaldson

Shortstop: Brandon Crawford over Jed Lowrie

Left Field: Yoenis Cespedes over Gregor Blanco

Center Field: Angel Pagan over Coco Crisp

Right Field: Josh Reddick over Hunter Pence

Starting Rotation: Giants over A’s

Bullpen: A’s over Giants

Manager: Bruce Bochy over Bob Melvin

Fans: Giants over A’s

I will preface my rebuttal by stating that in a few cases here I don’t actually disagree with his decisions, but his logic behind those decisions is incredibly flawed and almost childlike in their lack of analysis.

He begins by proclaiming Buster Posey reminds him of Johnny Bench, while Jaso and Norris are comparable to Bobby Estalella.  For those unaware, Estalella was a talentless, steroid infused catcher for the Giants in the Bonds era who needs to get a refund on his BALCO purchases.  To denegrate the platoon that is Jaso and Norris, that has combined to hit .333 on the young season is an early indication he has no intention of praising the green and gold.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t take Posey over them, but they are no Bobby Estalella.

Marco Scutaro became a hero for the Giants last season by almost literally never swinging and missing for the better part of two months.  He caught the final out of the NLCS in a memorable scene in the pouring rain.  He is indeed a favorable option over Eric Sogard at second base, but nothing to support that case was given here other than what I stated in the previous sentence.

Here’s where things begin to get really murky, as Saracevic decides Brandon Crawford is better than Jed Lowrie.  I whole heartedly disagree here because Jed is much more established at the big league level, while Crawford does have a better glove.  But that isn’t important to Saracevic because Crawford has a ring, from a championship run that Crawford posted a .217/.321/.283 line over 54 plate appearances during, but he’s the “quarterback” of the defense so that carries more weight than regular season production.  You know, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000 with Trent Dilfer as their quarterback, but Dilfer had nothing to do with them winning it all, just saying.

Saracevic moves onto third base, where it’s pretty clear that Pablo Sandoval is the better choice over Josh Donaldson.  But again, Saracevic relies on a single accomplishment as the basis for his decision.  Since Sandoval took Justin Verlander deep twice in his three homer game 1 of last year’s World Series, he’s a better all aroudn player than Josh Donaldson.  I couldn’t make up a more ridiculous reason if I tried.

As he moves to the outfield, he takes an obvious decision in the A’s favor as a chance to throw the fans a bone by picking Yoenis Cespedes.  But of course without fail, he takes a dig at the A’s with the old “he’ll be playing for the Yankees in three years” joke.  No, really… that’s exactly what he wrote.  Get some new material sir.

The battle between Coco Crisp and Angel Pagan is a fairly close one, they’re somewhat similar in skillset and ability, but Pagan gets the nod for his “recent durability.”  I can’t fault that necessarily, Coco’s injury problems are quite the nuisances.  But, I’d still take Coco as the ignitor of my offense over Angel Pagan.  But Saracevic commits the ultimate sin here, he referred to Crisp’s colors as green and yellow, one of my biggest pet peeves, it’s green and gold… get it right.

Surprisingly he takes Josh Reddick over Hunter Pence in right field.  I would have thought for sure Pence’s RBI single in which he broke his bat and hit the ball three times would have given him the easy nod over Reddick.  This is the time that for some reason Saracevic finally decides to pull out some stats to state his case.  Reddick’s power potential is the deciding factor here, no mention of the 2012 Gold Glove or the rocket arm.

The starting rotation is a pretty easy decision, the Giants have ridden theirs to two World Series titles in the last three years.  While the A’s does have potential, as Saracevic points out, it isn’t proven.  He calls the Giants staff “dynastic.”  When they win three straight championships get back to me, until then keep the ‘d’ word to yourself.

He makes the sound choice in selecting the Athletics bullpen as the superior one.  He doesn’t really give a reason for selecting the A’s, so I chalk it up to throwing another bone to the A’s fans.

It’s hard to argue that Bruce Bochy isn’t the best manager of the two teams, considering the immense success he’s had in San Francisco, but I’ll try anyway.  Bob Melvin took a team that was expected to be in last place, and possibly lose 100 games last year, and made them not only contenders, but division champions.  His masterful weaving of the A’s lineup every single day was something to behold, and he has the team off to a hot start in 2013 (despite the last two ugly losses versus the Detroit Tigers).  BoMel is a master of communication and has fostered a level of chemistry that could not be stopped in 2012, and will be a key to their success in 2013.  Bochy has to tell Matt Cain to go out and start, seems pretty easy to me.  I go for BoMel here.

The last and most appalling of all the comparisons is when Saracevic puts the fans of each team up against each other.  He chooses the Giants fans because they pack their stadium on a nightly basis.  What he doesn’t acknowledge here is the fact that they have a shiny new stadium to call home.  Sure, the Athletics have problems filling the 47 year old O.co Coliseum, but when they do there is nothing in baseball like it.  Ask anyone who attended any of the final regular season, or ALDS games in Oakland, as well as playoff games in AT&T Park and they will all tell you the atmosphere and the electricity in Oakland was unparalleled.  Saracevic’s decision is a simply matter of choosing quantity over quality.

So it’s not the first time, and probably not the last time either that the Athletics are downgraded by a Giants supporter cloaked as an unbiased evaluator.  Al Saracevic may know more about what he writes than this piece indicated, but he will need to show it before he gains any level of credibility in the eyes of Athletics fans.  Like always, I guess we’ll just have to let the season play out to find out who is truly superior.

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  • KK

    Sounds like this Saracevic guy is a complete moron. I bet he’s going Down on “Timmy Jim” as we speak! I was at the Final Two games last year, as well as fanfest this year. When on the stage Billy Beane said something interesting: “When I spoke to Jim Leyland after the World Series to congratulate him on the successful season his team had, he said something to me that I think you all could appreciate. He told me that Having played here in the ALDS and in San Francisco in the World Series, that Oakland, when filled with Fans, is the toughest Place to play Baseball, and that San Francisco was a nice, calming environment compared to what Oakland Brought to the table, for just the ALDS, nonetheless.” I think that says a lot. Oakland may not have the capacity that S.F. has, they may not have as many “fans” as San Francisco (and i say “fans” because i don’t think sf really has any), but Oakland A’s fans can make a stadium with 25,000 people louder than a stadium with 41,000. That’s why Oakland’s Fans are better than San Francisco’s, when fewer people make more noise, it means there is much MUCH more passion.

    • Ryan

      SF doesn’t have any fans? Where were all those A’s “fans” last year? Apparently passionate fans only show up during the final week of the regular season and a division title is at stake. Giants fans travel very well. Listen to them when the Giants are on the road. Funny, because I don’t hear or see any A’s fans when the team is away (they barely attend home games). I understand A’s fans are bitter, but fans like yourself make it difficult to want to see your team succeed. Good luck with your asinine views and your tarps.

      • KK

        Ryan, SF has a whole lot of half-fans and dumb little girls screaming “I love you buster”, but nothing more than that. If that’s what you’re happy with in the seats, fine, more power to you – I’ll take a stadium with 23,000 die hard fans over that any day. Don’t deny the lack of passion when it comes to the pathetic display of fandom in the seats of AT&T park. Most come for the view, the stupid coke bottle, or the overrated, overpriced food.

      • mantisfists

        Hey, Ryan…..where were all those Giants fans when they were playing at Candlestick Park? Traveling well to the next bandwagon team is my guess. Maybe you’re only 12 and don’t know any better, so let me educate you. Candlestick may as well have been Alcatraz for as empty as it was. Giants fans were showing their support so well to the team that they tried to move the team to FLORIDA! Only Walter Haas, owner of…..you guessed it, the A’S….giving the Giants rights to the South Bay to explore keeping them in the bay area allowed a new ownership group to save them from moving. In fact, the Giants have almost left the bay area TWICE. Before 1992 it was 76, when they almost moved to Canada. So, it seems Giants fans travel so well that multiple ownership groups figured they might as well move the team to where their fans really are….Florida and Canada. Ironic that you say it’s fans like us that make it difficult to want to see our team succeed….most A’s fans think the same thing about Giants’ fans and their team. Any time a team wins a championship, fans come out of the woodwork. Know the history of your team before you try to bash a team or their fan base.

        • Ryan

          What a shocker! Another bitter A’s fan assuming and attacking a Giants fan questioning their knowledge and loyalty. I suppose the framed photo of Chili Davis, Rob Deer and myself during a 100 loss season is proof that I know nothing and just started following the Giants in 2010. I respect real fans of every team, however I despise jealous and ignorant fans with a short persons complex taking their anger out on the wrong people. Lew Wolf, Bud Selig and believe it or not, Mr. Haas are the people you should have an issue with. The Haas family made a terrible business decision. Do you expect Giants brass to just hand over territory that is worth millions of dollars? I would hate to be in business with someone who would. I also don’t need some East Bay degenerate to tell me how fan trends work. You can make fun of fringe fans all you want, but their dollars are assuring home grown talent stays. When Cespedes bolts in a few years you might wish the A’s had a few fair weathered fans. Thanks for the unnecessary history lesson. Have fun taking trips to San Antonio in ten years. I heardiit’s beautiful this time of year.

          • mantisfists

            I love how people who have no relevant points to make they stoop to insulting people. Regardless, I’ll refrain from stooping to you’re level and stay away from the insults. I question your knowledge because you show none of it. If you sat through the Giants’ 100 loss season (at Candlestick, not on TV) like you say you did and don’t remember that there were NO Giants fans, your memory either sucks or you’re as ignorant as you made yourself seem to be. To fault the A’s for wanting exactly what the Giants themselves wanted is hypocricy at it’s core. Let me educate you again. 1) The Haas family didn’t give the Giants the rights to the south bay unconditionally. They did it on the condition that the rights would return to the A’s if the Giants didn’t move. 2) Walter Haas went on record as saying that he didn’t give the Giants his permission because it was a good business decision, he did it because IT WAS GOOD FOR BASEBALL. What a concept!!! I understand that’s difficult for some Giants fans (and apparently, Giants ownership) to relate to or comprehend. Nobody was making fun of fringe fans, sports are what they are and ALL franchises feed off of the extra money they bring. I’m making fun of ignorant, hypocritical Giants fans who seem to have forgotten their own history. Honestly, A’s fans don’t have anything against the Giants themselves, generally. Why would they? We’ve been better than you for the better part of the last 100 years. The Giants will be chasing the A’s accomplishments for the next few decades more than likely. No, the sole reason A’s fans root against the Giants is because of fans like you. Otherwise, we could care less and honestly, probably would have applauded them for finally wining the World Series.

          • KK

            I was making fun of fringe fans. The difference between fringe fans in San Francisco and Fringe fans anywhere else is their utter denial of truth. The truth is, The A’s are kings of Bay Area baseball. If you ask any Giants fan that same question, they will ignorantly say “The Giants”. Its as though 2 World Series rings has blinded them-which is understandable, that’s one hell of an accomplishment-but don’t ever forget your place when it comes to baseball in Northern California. My point, The A’s has done more as a franchise (in way less time) that The Giants have done. Regarding fans-I’ve seen A’s fans (while only a few compared to ginats “fans”) wear their colors even while they’re bad. based off of the recent surge of Giants fans, I can only assume their gear collects dust in the midst of a bad season.