It isn’t often that you can actually hear someone sweating desperation, but then most of you haven’t been fully exposed to the whine stylings of Oakland Athletics president Dave Kaval. He is the frontman for owner John Fisher, whose slow strangulation of the fanbase has reached new levels of deliberate neglect in an attempt to show the other 29 Major League Baseball owners that they cannot make a go of it in Oakland, and Kaval’s role in that master plan has lurched from benign human face to pantomime villain and now to clumsy provocateur, all as part of his servile role as Fisher’s representative in the upper world.
Think here in terms of David Samson, who happily did cynical works on behalf of the ethically bankrupt Jeff Loria in Miami, or Randy Levine, who has done the same for the Steinbrenners in New York. Every team either has one or knows it will need one at some stage, because the people who own franchises almost always prefer the pointed stick to the candied carrot in their dealings with the peasantry.
Anyway, Kaval has decided to pivot again, this time to professional gadfly buzzing around the eyes and ears of the San Francisco Giants, who have been the A’s’ perceived bete noire in good times and bad for most of the last quarter-century. As the Athletics were in San Francisco losing 8-2 to the casually dressed locals, Kaval decided to swipe at the 9,000 empty seats in the classic manner of someone who thinks he should do stand-up but can only get laughs by stepping on a rake:
The announced attendance for the game was 32,898, which is the lowest for a Bay Bridge Series game in San Francisco since the team left Candlestick Park. But of all the people available to make that point, Kaval is not only the least qualified but the least clever. Least qualified, because the A’s total attendance this year in seven games is less than 56,000, and five of their seven games have drawn fewer than 8,000, and least clever because he lacks the basic humor to make a point that isn’t immediately negated by being the source. The tweet thus becomes the equivalent of someone complaining about someone else’s animal rights record while holding a bolt gun and wearing a bloody apron.
It is Kaval trying to poke the cage of the more powerful team as though he were a clever and entertaining fellow rather than an upper-management oaf who looks like an insurance adjuster whose shorts are constantly bunched near his delicates. He is trying to be Bill Veeck, the genuine provocateur of days gone by, when all he is is a tedious scold with neither wit nor ammunition. He understands that the A’s ought to have long ago positioned themselves as the cheeky alternative to the establishment Giants, but he also knows that Fisher is an even more balsa-based lifeform than Kaval, and is not useful as a public foil. Neither of them should try to be anything other than decor, but Fisher is paying Kaval to be an armoire with a Twitter account, so here we are.
Put another way, Kaval later got into a Twitter debate with a parody seagull account, which is exactly the stance you take if you want to come off like the guy who goes through high school inviting the seventh graders to beat him up outside the lunch room.
Truth told, Kaval is badly cast to be the guy who tweaks the establishment, representing as he does the very establishment owner who is an invisible failson of a rich guy, and whose only real goal in owning a team has been to find some city that will give him money and land for free. He’s an unconvincing villain and an even poorer comedian. I mean, he gets credit for trying, I suppose, but mostly he is only trying our patience by failing every time he pretends to be anything other than the teakwood end table he is. At least then, while poking another team for low attendance, he’d look nice inside the Athletics’ glass house.