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Evan Giddings: Rob Manfred Gave A’s ‘Swift Kick in the Rear’

Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. has been under scrutiny regarding how he and the league have handled the Oakland Athletics attempt to move to Las Vegas, Nevada. The Oakland Coliseum was recently flooded with 27,759 attendees for a “reverse boycott,” organized by Oakland Athletics fans to demonstrate to the league and team owner John Fisher that if the community of Oakland gives them something worth showing up for, they will come. Contrarily, the Athletics are the second-worst team in the American League and have the lowest payroll in the sport, along with a deteriorating facility that falls short of meeting major league standards.

Over the ensuing days, sports media personalities and fans have recapped the reverse boycott, which was filled with chants of, “Sell the team” and somewhat cathartic to all who have watched this situation unfold. Many have called Manfred out for how he recently addressed the situation to media members at a press conference following owners meetings. One thing he said pertaining to the demonstration was that it was nice to see the ballpark filled at close to an average major league attendance, ostensibly criticizing the fans for the circumstances under which they attended the contest.

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“You’re the commissioner of baseball,” Dan Patrick said on his radio show. “I don’t think you’re supposed to have this kind of attitude towards the Oakland A’s where they did try something.”

The Nevada State Legislature approved $380 million in public funding for a $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium off the Las Vegas Strip on the site of the Tropicana Hotel. Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo promptly followed by signing the team’s stadium bill into law, leaving the final step to be Major League Baseball owners approving the decision. Once construction commences at the site, it is all but certain that the Athletics will be out of town, and perhaps sooner rather than later. The team has reportedly explored the idea of playing at a minor league ballpark in the area while it waits for its 30,000-seat stadium to be completed.

“What the Oakland A’s asked for from their own town was not something that the city of Las Vegas was even in the ballpark for, no pun intended,” Giddings said. “So that’s what people are trying to figure out and really have an understanding of and are wrestling with; is that you feel like they did not want to be here in the first place.”

Evan Giddings, a producer and board operator at 95.7 The Game in nearby San Francisco, Calif. joined Patrick on the program to discuss the situation surrounding the team and the public perception being pushed out by the team and the league. He took the air yesterday afternoon filling in for Matt Steinmetz on the midday program Steiny & Guru and told Daryle “The Guru” Johnson what he saw at the ballpark and relayed it to Patrick.

“It’s been tough because a lot of Oakland A’s fans both in the greater Bay Area along with around the country do that I know around the world feel like they’ve been spit on, kicked dirt on and that ‘See ya’ on the way out the door… was uncalled for,” Giddings said. “….To hear the commissioner of Major League Baseball essentially give you a swift kick in the rear on the way out didn’t exactly feel great.”

As it pertains to the comments Manfred made, which also included a falsity about the city of Oakland never giving the team an offer to stay, Giddings was disgusted and further irritated as a fan of the team. The sentiment a preponderance of fans feel is that the team wants to leave Oakland and Alameda County to join the migration of professional sports to Las Vegas, a destination that attracted nearly 39 million visitors last year. Furthermore, the league is prepared to waive the $300 million relocation fee for the team, with Manfred having said that it is “not a realistic possibility.” Las Vegas has had two professional sports championships in the last two years – the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces (2022) and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights (2023). The fans feel they are being blamed, hence why the “reverse boycott” was staged at the ballpark this week, and the media is subsequently broadcasting that message.

“They have been trying the entire time to essentially scapegoat the Oakland A’s fans into not being the ones that supported and into not being the ones that showed up. In reality, it all comes down to what we all knew what this was about, Dan, and that was the color green.”

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