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There’s No Bottom In Oakland

An A's player slides into second base
Megan Briggs/Getty Images

It's not quite as humiliating to get swept by this year's Miami Marlins as it might have been, say, five years ago, but for the (as of this writing) Oakland A's, the weekend was another kick down the ladder. With two pathetic losses and one annoying defeat, the league's worst team fell under .200 with an increasingly Spideresque 12-49 record. As the slog of the season continues, and the incentive to care becomes weaker, it isn't even hard to imagine everything getting worse.

Friday in Miami was just a typical, drab, 4-0 loss. In front of an announced attendance of 8,582—a few thousand more than what they're officially drawing at home—the A's went down 2-0 in the first inning, struck out 15 times, and, even when a break went their way in the field, killed it with too much optimism on the basepaths.

Saturday was a spectacular 12-1 flogging led by Luis Arráez, the best hitter in the majors. The Marlins' offseason acquisition improved his average to .390 with three doubles and two singles, because MLB does in fact count hits off Oakland pitching in its official stats. That administrative oversight benefited Arráez again on Sunday. Even though the A's put up an unexpected fight against Sandy Alcantara, Arráez won the game with this grounder that proved unfieldable and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth. (A sympathetic scorekeeper did not call this an error.)

It feels rude to single out any particularly bad performer in Oakland, since management has put them in a literally unwinnable situation, and so I am not using anyone's given name in this blog. But from a bird's-eye view, the team is just a big ugly glob of bad news. Their batting average is .217, their OPS is .644, and their hard-hit percentage is 32.9, all league worsts. Against A's pitchers, teams are slashing better than they are facing anyone else: .280/.370/.493, which is about what the Pirates got out of a young Barry Bonds. The stats that matter most are equally dismal—3.38 runs per game against 6.85 allowed, for an overall differential of minus-212.

Even the people paid to smile through the pain are faltering. "Everyone in that room is feeling it,” manager Mark Kotsay said after Sunday's loss. “There’s a lot of emotion now in that room. It’s continuing to be a grind.” The front page of the official team site can't ignore how rough it is, either:

Headline: Fighting through Frustration. Subhed: One mistake made the difference as the Athletics keep trying to grind their way out of their first-half struggles.

But what of the Oakland fans who actually wish they could part with their money in exchange for some competent baseball? As the the club continues to try to talk its way into a taxpayer-funded ballpark in Las Vegas, and amid delusions about how many people would attend games there, some of those they'd leave behind are organizing at least a token rebellion. On June 13, there will be a "reverse boycott" of the Oakland A's and their game against Tampa, aimed at showing MLB that there's plenty of support in the city for the idea of a team not owned by John Fisher. Hopefully, it will be a rowdy, memorable embarrassment for Fisher and Rob Manfred, and the funds raised for a "SELL" t-shirt giveaway are an early encouraging sign.

Unfortunately, no matter what happens next Tuesday, the A's will still be forced to play out another 93 games of this miserable waste of a season.

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