Which MLB hot starts through Memorial Day are here to stay?

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We’ve reached Memorial Day, the first real milestone of the MLB season. The first seven weeks or so don’t decide who makes the playoffs, but it gives us a pretty good barometer. But which (at least somewhat surprising) starts are here to stay?

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The Rangers spent heavily in free agency this offseason and it looks like it’s working out for them. They currently lead the AL West and have one of the best offenses in baseball. They’re top three in average, OBP, slugging, and OPS. Everyone in their rotation has either met or exceeded expectations, including Jacob DeGrom who met the expectation that he would be injured before long. I’m guessing their stay at the top of the division will be short-lived because I’ve come to accept the three certainties of death, taxes, and the Astros being really good no matter what.

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They were a fun story in April but in May they’ve proven that they’re here to stay. Zach Gallen is going to be a Cy Young contender, and Merrill Kelly, fresh off of committing high treason on Team USA, has a sub-three ERA. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. waited until he was traded from Toronto to have the best year of his career. 23-year-old Geraldo Perdomo might be the starting shortstop for the NL in the All-Star game. Corbin Carroll’s $111 million contract looks like a bargain. All this is to say that they’re really good, young for the most part, and going to be around for years to come.

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Full disclosure: I’m an Orioles fan, so I’m terribly biased. This team is legit and probably better than yours. They just won five of six on a road trip through Toronto and the Bronx, and the one loss was in extra innings. One of the knocks on them is that they don’t blow teams out. Their largest margin of victory is five runs and they’ve only done that twice in 32 wins. But this isn’t some statistical anomaly like the Marlins starting 12-0 in one-run games. At a certain point, you’re just that good.

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I’ve seen this movie before. The Angels are right outside of the wildcard picture, chasing the Astros, and Yankees. They called up Zack Neto a few weeks ago to make him the first player from the 2022 draft class to reach the majors. While Neto has been a big improvement over David Fletcher offensively and plays incredible defense, I think part of the reason they rushed him to the majors is that they know the massive implications of this season, and are feeling the pressure to try anything to help the team win. While they’ve been hot lately, I don’t trust this team more than I can throw them.

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Putting them on the “teams that are off to great starts” list is pretty generous considering they’re barely treading water over .500, but they’re in 1st place so I’ll let it slide. They’re in 1st place in easily the worst division, and they wouldn’t be a playoff-caliber team if they were in any other, but that’s the luck of the draw. That’s not to say that there aren’t things to like about this team. Their whole pitching staff is great with Sonny Gray returning to his Oakland form and Joe Ryan emerging as a star. The Pablo López trade in the offseason is one of the few that both sides can feel good about. Their problem is they don’t hit, even though Joey Gallo beat the “worst player in the sport accusations” with 11 home runs already. Byron Buxton is now a full-time DH. You hate to lose his defense, but if that’s what will keep him healthy for a full season then so be it. The Twins were in first place for the early part of last year as well but faltered down the stretch. I don’t see that happening if only because their division is abysmal.

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I mean… Jesus Christ. Juan Soto leveraged a trade from the Nationals just so he could be on a team with basically the same record. I thought this team would easily win 100 games and supplant the Dodgers as NL West champions but it’s not going to happen. I know it’s not wise investing to sell low, but I don’t care. I’m dumping all my Padres stock if only because I can’t bear to look at it anymore. Their insistence on being mediocre is baffling. They easily have the best top four in their lineup but are last in MLB in average. Manny Machado being on the IL has only exacerbated that problem. Their bullpen ERA is top five. Their rotation has been fine despite Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove having the worst seasons of their careers. Their problem is that they have more everyday players hitting below .200 than hitting over .260 because they don’t have a single player hitting over .260.

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Last year I felt like they were a year away and then they won their division and a playoff series. Their main deficiency last year was the same as this year, only it’s gotten way worse. They are absolutely inept on offense. They are dead last in runs, home runs, and OPS. For reference, the Rays, who have the most home runs (97) have more than three times as many as the Guardians (30). Last season, they were able to squeak out a weak division with a lot of 3-1 wins with an excellent starting rotation, and small ball. It’s not happening this year because to win you need to be able to score. Like, at least one run. Their terrible division will keep them in the hunt long enough — they’re only 4.5 games back right now — but this isn’t a playoff team.

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This team is in large part a victim of the division they play in. They’re in last place in the AL East but they’d be 0.5 games back of the AL Central-leading Twins. It’s getting to be the time where the rubber needs to hit the road for this young core. They’ve been a trendy World Series pick for two years in a row but so far this iteration of the Blue Jays with Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and the like, have made just two playoff appearances and were swept both times. One of them was in the shortened 2020 seasons where everyone and their mother was invited to the postseason. I think this team will at least be in the hunt for the entire season. They’re near the top of the league in most offensive stats. They also just set the record for most trash talk and cheating accusations during a 2-9 stretch. Their rotation is really good with Yusei Kikuchi and José Berrios returning to pre-2022 form, even if the only thing more inflated than Alek Manoah is his ERA. This team’s biggest problem just seems to be inconsistency. For example, the other night they beat the Rays 20-1, but still managed to lose the four-game series.

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Queens was struggle city for the first 40 games, and they still haven’t fully recovered from that bad start, but there are signs of life. A Pete Alonso walk-off home run against the Rays in extra innings was the beginning of a five game winning streak that got them back over .500. He saved his pre at bat deadlift session for a good time. Pitching acquisitions Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga have been pretty underwhelming so far. They’ve already had nine different starting pitchers this season, and it’s not because they’re so deep that you just gotta let them all play. The rotation needs to stop getting injured (and suspended) for them to be real contenders. To steal a fun exercise from the movie Moneyball, let’s calculate how much they’re spending per win. They’re on pace for 83 wins, and with a payroll of $345,913,716, they’d be spending $4,167,635 per win. The Mets are playing moneyball, but in reverse. Even with their terrible start though, they’re currently in the last NL wildcards spot, so I guess it’s worth it.

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I have no clue what to make of this team. The names on the roster make me think that they’re going to get their act together at some point, but who can really be sure? They won the NL last year, but this year’s team isn’t last year’s team. For them to overcome Bryce Harper starting the year on the IL and Rhys Hoskins probably missing the whole season, the other guys in the lineup had to pick up the slack, which didn’t happen. Kyle Schwarber, last year’s NL home run leader, is batting .172 with an OPS+ of 100. Trea Turner, in his own words, has “sucked” and he was even booed by his own mom. He hit a home run in his next at-bat though, so maybe he just needs more tough love. The much bigger problem is that the starting rotation has been pretty bad. Their ace, Aaron Nola, got off to a pretty bad start, and Ranger Suárez has an ERA close to 10 since coming off the IL.

What does the MLB have against birds?

Fowl ball

The Randy Johnson bird hunting club is the fastest-growing inner circle in Major League Baseball. For the second time in a span of seven days, a bird was brutally killed on the field of a major league ballpark. Last week it was Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zac Gallen taking out a bird mid-flight with a warmup pitch. The unsuspecting game bird failed to read the trajectory of Gallen’s pitch, which is understandable for an inexperienced novice with a literal bird brain, and flew into the path of Gallen’s curveball as he warmed up on the outfield.

This week, Cleveland Guardians rookie Will Brennan laid waste to a bird with a whistling line drive that instantly killed a bird flying in the path of the ball. The Guardians still managed to notch the win over the White Sox in the first matchup of their 30-game series.

Birds are arguably the most intrusive mammals on the planet. Most animals scurry when they see large gatherings of humans. Birds take dumps from trees and even midflight, fly into our windshields, and pitches, and rarely watch where they are going. Just last week, I was personally hit by a stray dropping, so excuse my anti-bird harangue. For them to intrude in the space humans occupy on the surface is negligent and these birds suffered the consequences. My only advice to low-flying birds would be to borrow the advice of MLB hitting coaches and suggest they adjust their launch angles.

The Blue Jays, Orioles, and Cardinals haven’t commented yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they recommend Rob Manfred installing a bird porch in major league ballparks or maybe place a sign somewhere. Somewhere directly above the arm barn might do the trick.

Neither of the birds hit this week cartoonishly exploded in the manner of Johnson’s, which demonstrates just how differently the Hall of Fame pitcher was built in his prime.

An epidemic of birds taking the full brunt of a tightly wound baseball and not getting up can’t be coincidental, right? Hopefully, this doesn’t presage the beginning of some Hitchcockian war against birds or PETA, which demanded MLB change the name of its bullpens to arm barns, as a show of respect to cows. I’d imagine a summer of dead birds strewn across MLB ballparks would catch the attention of their most avid members.

Meet the Mets…they stink

Hang in there, buddy.

The thing about being Steve Cohen, and being the New York Mets, is that it has to work. Otherwise, it’s less likely that other owners are going to feel the need to compete with him. The MLB expanded playoffs kills a lot of that urge anyway, but if the Mets are running away with the NL East year after year and piling up 100 wins, eventually someone has to try and bridge the gap.

17-18 ain’t it.

The Queens 9 just lost a series to the Rockies. After losing one to the Tigers. After losing one to the Braves. After losing one to the Nationals. But hey, they split the series with the Giants before that. It’s not been a great stretch, and it’s left them already trailing Atlanta by seven games, which sounds like a pretty big gap already to a team like Atlanta that is solid everywhere you look.

Steve Cohen’s money doesn’t fix everything

The thing about Cohen’s money is that it doesn’t make players bionic. And the Mets are paying for their injuries, first and foremost. Throw in a suspension for Max Scherzer, and the Mets are scraping the bottom of the rotation barrel where you find things you’d normally want to disinfect. David Petersen flashed some stuff, but he also flashed a lot of scoreboards and fireworks with the amount of homers he was giving up. Jose Butto was effective but limited, and they’re both back in Syracuse (poor guys). And the Mets are going to be reeling from their long term absentees, Carlos Carrasco and Jose Quintana. Which leaves the rotation behind Scherzer and Justin Verlander to Kodai Senga, Tylor Megill and his misspelled first name (but his daddy still got drunk and left him the will), and Joey Lucchesi. All of them have struggled or are outrunning their metrics. Senga and Megill (he went to Tangie Town) have had all the control of a toddler on pop rocks.

That doesn’t mean the problems haven’t extended to the offense. There’s a great top half here, but you can see where the offense Carlos Correa could have provided is sorely missed. Starling Marte is sneaking Buck Showalter something, because he still has a grip on the second spot in the lineup and yet is clinically dead (68 wRC+). Mark Canha didn’t have that much power to lose, but he has, while also suffering from some fiendish BABIP treachery (.247 BABIP). Eduardo Escobar was so bad that they had to send out the Baty-signal, and he hasn’t disappointed so far. Francisco Alvarez is up and behind the plate, but he’s striking out too much and not showing his on-base skill that he had in the minors. That should correct in time, but time isn’t something you get with the Mets. All that’s left a lot of water-carrying for McNeil, Nimmo, Alonso, and Lindor.

The pen has actually held together pretty well in the absence of Edwin Diaz. It hasn’t been great, (17th in pen ERA), and you can definitely see where they’d benefit from slotting David Robertson and Adam Ottavino down an inning. Drew Smith has popped by leaning on his fastball more, striking out a third of the hitters he’s faced. It’s a thin pen, but it isn’t a disaster.

How do the Mets turn it around?

The path to salvation is pretty clear. It’s Brett Baty continuing to hit and Alvarez at least finding the ability to walk again. Then the Mets have seven hitters instead of five. They still might have to solve their corner outfield issues by the trade deadline, as Canha and Marte are in the baseball wasteland of their mid-30s. Their struggles may be straight up decline rather than struggles.

What might keep Seinfeld up at night is that Scherzer hasn’t been good and has lost a tick off his fastball. His slider has lost some depth as well, and he’s using it less, and one wonders what Scherzer looks like when he has to be uber careful about what he’s using on his hands for the next little while. If Scherzer isn’t Scherzer, suddenly the structure looks way more rickety. The Mets are going to hope to stay afloat until Carrasco and Quintana return down the road, though Carrasco himself might just be cooked (he’s 36). Whatever problems are in the pen can always be fixed via trade.

For as much buzz as the Mets created in the winter, once the Correa signing fell through they were basically relegated to running last year’s team back, with Quintana, Senga, and Verlander replacing departed starters, and the lineup basically counting on Baty and Alvarez becoming plus-major leaguers. But McNeil and Nimmo are in their 30s too, are the Mets going to get more from them than they already have? The Mets are spreading the money around but an awful lot of their fate hinges on two kids they’re paying nothing yet.

The Mets are more likely to go up than remain flat-lined as they are now, and there’s probably a white-hot month somewhere in the summer. There’d better be, otherwise there will be a lot of grinning owners outside of New York.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate to find out how he got Darryl Strawberry to flip him off when he was just seven years old.  

A Major League Baseball team in Utah is a terrible idea

Rob Manfred has been open about his desire for two new MLB franchises. But Utah?

At a time in which it appears that Major League Baseball is seemingly doing all it can to keep African-Americans from being on Big League rosters, a group in Salt Lake, Utah is throwing its hat in the ring to land a franchise in the coming years. Remember this the next time MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred mentions anything about diversity.

“I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” — James Baldwin.

According to recent reports, Gail Miller and the Larry H. Miller Company — the former owners of the Utah Jazz, who also own the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A team, the Salt Lake Bees — have joined Nashville and Portland in launching campaigns for an MLB expansion team. While no one knows when the expansion might take place, Manfred told ESPN last year that he “would love to get to 32 teams.”

A Nashville expansion team makes sense, with the city already hosting the Titans and Predators. An MLB franchise in Portland also makes sense, as it would give the Pacific Northwest two franchises, as the Seattle Mariners are currently pro baseball’s lone representatives in the region.

But a team in Utah would just be another example of Major League Baseball’s willful race problem.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune — where I used to work as an intern — census data indicates that only 1.5 percent of the state’s population identifies as Black. Utah joins New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and Wyoming as the only states with a Black population of 2 percent or less.

Evidence abounds

On Opening Day, I wrote about how the start of the MLB season is an annual reminder of how little Major League Baseball thinks of African-Americans, and the examples are right in front of us. Of the 81 players selected for last season’s All-Star Game, only five were African-American-born players. Only 7.2 percent of African-American-born players were on Opening Day rosters last season, which was lower than the 7.6 percent from 2021. Last season was also the first time in 63 years the Philadelphia Phillies didn’t have a single African-American player on their Opening Day roster. The World Series between the Phillies and the Houston Astros was the first time since 1950 that the Fall Classic didn’t feature a single U.S.-born Black player. Astros manager Dusty Baker was the only Black face on the field, as he became the third Black manager to ever win it all.

“It is frustrating,’’ CC Sabathia, vice president of The Players Alliance and special assistant to commissioner Rob Manfred, recently told USA Today Sports. “I’m not seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but I am starting to see it dig, and there’s some headway. It’s right there under the surface.’’

The numbers for this season are already in and they’re even worse, as only 6.1 percent of players on Opening-day rosters were Black, according to USA Today Sports — which is the smallest percentage since 1955 when the league was 89.8 percent white. The report goes on to say that five MLB teams don’t have any Black players on their rosters, and nine others only have one.

And if that wasn’t enough evidence for why Utah would be a terrible destination for expansion, let’s not forget what’s taken place at BYU recently, or the fact that former Jazz star Donovan Mitchell publicly spoke about the state’s racist fans and how hard it was to be Black in that state — even as the face of a franchise.

“If I’m being honest with you, I never really said this, but it was draining. It was just draining on my energy just because you can’t sit in your room and cheer for me and then do all these different things,” Mitchell told Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s Andscape. “I’m not saying specifically every fan, but I just feel like it was a lot of things. A [Utah] state senator [Stuart Adams] saying I need to get educated on my own Black history. Seeing Black kids getting bullied because of their skin color. Seeing a little girl [Isabella Tichenor] hang herself because she’s being bullied.”

Over the years, there have been multiple reasons why levels of African-American participation in baseball have fallen off, and MLB has played a big part in that. The sport has become a tough sell to young African-American athletes. Now imagine how much tougher it would be trying to lure Black players to a place like Utah. There’s a reason why the Jazz never make huge splashes during NBA free agency.

Are hot or slow starts by the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and others a harbinger of things to come?

Bangin’ on a trash can, drummin’ on a street light

It’s about 20 games into the MLB regular season. It’s a small sample size, but no longer so small that we can completely dismiss it. Just like every year, there are some teams that are over-performing and underperforming expectations, but which of these surprising records are actually telling the truth?

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At no point during this off-season did I think that the Pirates were going to be good, but I thought there was a very good chance they could be interesting. And they’re certainly interesting through 20 games with one of the best records in the NL. I like to think this stretch is largely caused by the return of Andrew McCutchen (pictured) who’s playing some of his best baseball in years with a .943 OPS and four home runs in 18 games. This team would be even more interesting if Oneil Cruz, the most unique player in the game, wasn’t injured for four months.

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It’s not going to last though. This team has too many AAAA and journeyman-type players to continue to be competitive. They have a lot of veteran (read: really, really old) players who are doubtful to keep up their production for a whole season. Sorry Pittsburgh, but no one with 43-year-old Rich Hill (pictured) in their rotation in 2023 is doing much. I genuinely hope they prove me wrong though.

Asshole Mike Clevinger

It was an incredibly disappointing season on the South side last year when the White Sox were considered World Series contenders and then camped out at .500 for the entire season and missed the playoffs. And how do they follow it up? It’s April 21 and they haven’t won a series. Next, they play at the Rays so don’t hold your breath.

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Many of their stars are constantly injured. “But when they get healthy…” you might say. Well, a team full of easily injured players isn’t going to all-of-a-sudden get and stay healthy. This is just who they are. And their starting rotation, which looks elite on paper, has struggled. Lance Lynn (pictured) and Michael Kopech have 7.59 and 6.32 ERAs respectively. With the third-worst bullpen ERA in baseball, the rotation needs to be elite for them to even have a chance.

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They got off to a similarly slow start last season but got going in May. I know one season doesn’t really have any bearing on the next, but regardless, I think they’ll do the same. Julio Rodriguez (pictured) has been good, Jarred Kelenic has seemingly become the player he was touted to be as a prospect, and four of their five starting pitchers have been good. There’s no reason they shouldn’t have a winning record before long. They even have a positive run differential, so they may have just had some bad luck so far.

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This is the one I’m most on the fence about, but I’m leaning toward them being legit. They just DFA’d Madison Bumgarner (pictured) despite still owing him 34 million dollars. Bumgarner might’ve been the best postseason pitcher ever with the Giants, but this season he has a 10.26 ERA.

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Telling someone “I don’t care how much we owe you, if you can’t help us win, then you can get the fuck out,” is something that winning teams generally do, so I am inclined to think the Diamondbacks are legitimately trying to be a winning team. Also, super prospect Corbin Carroll (pictured) has been every bit as advertised.

Dusty Baker

Are you kidding? They’ll be fine. How dare you ask me these things?

Juan Soto

Despite their run to the NLCS last year, the argument could be made that they’ve been underachievers in the regular season two years in a row. It’s not fair to expect they should’ve kept up with the 111-win Dodgers last year, but 89 feels light.

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No one can spend as much as Steve Cohen, but Padres’ owner Pete Seidler is giving it a valiant effort. Now they’re off to a lukewarm start again, but there’s just too much talent on this team for them not to be a really good regular-season team. I expect closer to 99 wins this season. Last night was Fernando Tatis Jr.’s (pictured) first game back after his PED suspension, and he showed them what they were missing with an 0-f0r-5 performance with two strikeouts. He’s also playing the outfield now, a position where he’s looked suspect at best. But again, there are just too many great players on this team for them not to be successful.

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The winning isn’t going to last. Granted, they’ve already won a series against good teams like the Rangers, Mariners, and Dodgers. This team won 74 games last year and I refuse to believe that the additions of Dansby Swanson (pictured), Eric Hosmer, Jameson Taillon, and the fourth consecutive year of the “Is Cody Bellinger finally back?” world tour are going to get them over .500 over a full season. Maybe it’s enough if Marcus Stroman’s sub-1 ERA persists.

Sports claims just a little more of its soul

Oakland Athletics second baseman Tony Kemp catches a pop out by Chicago Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom during the eighth inning.

Though I’m from the Midwest, the Oakland Athletics were always a fascination for me. It started well before the Moneyball era. When I first became a baseball fan was the rise of the Mark McGwire-Jose Canseco A’s. Even beyond McGwire and Canseco, when the A’s would be on the national game…they just looked different. Yeah, we know why now, but to a kid they looked like something not of this planet. Even Carney Lansford or Dave Henderson or Dave Stewart…they were just monsters roaming the quiet countryside of baseball. How come they looked and played like that and I was left with these puny Chicago Cubs at home? Even then, the A’s had an air about them. Something you wanted to be a part of from a distance even if you didn’t know why.

Then came the Giambi era, at an age where my punk sensibilities still governed far too much of my life (still true). That team looked like they were all off to see Skid Row in some bar for $7 after the game (OK maybe not punk but just go with me here). How could you not love them?

As I got older, and became more aware of how the A’s had to fight against their own ownership, their own circumstances, and keep reinventing themselves to stay ahead of the pack, it was hard to not be smitten. It was also hard to miss that connection to Oakland itself, something of an underdog in California as a city. They made my own fandom seem so…square.

We all knew how the Raiders represented the rebellious nature of the East Bay, more in the 70s than in their second stint. How they spoke for the California you didn’t see on the brochure. The dirty, loud, counterculture to the glitz across the bay or to the south. The sneer in response to the tourists and fantasies.

What the A’s represented

The A’s were only slightly different, or at least that’s how it felt some 2,000 miles away. They were still rebellious, still not fitting into any scene but their own, but they added a weirdo quotient to it that’s also a big part of California. They had the white shoes, the unorthodox methods, the creatures in the bleachers, the drums, whatever else, the overall feeling that they knew they didn’t have much, and they didn’t want much, and they would make it work better than those who had more. It was only enhanced by getting the MLB package and watching a lot of their games, games that always seemed to take place in the dark and gruff air that night in the Bay tends to be. A time when only the true creatures of the night came out. It had a haunting, alluring mystery to it. You had to be crazy to want to be there, and yet if you were you knew you didn’t belong anywhere else. At least that’s how it looked. There was a passion, a goofiness, a winking at the camera but a deep love that I and I’m sure some others could only be jealous of from here.

It was unique, something you felt like you couldn’t see anywhere else, whereas most fandoms and atmospheres feel portable, duplicated.

A move to Vegas won’t be the same

Of course, these aren’t the things that people who run baseball, and all sports, care about. It is what makes sports sports, it’s what turns us into fans in the first place, but it’s not what shows up on the balance sheet. The A’s may be swept away to Vegas, where John Fisher can get not only his new ballpark but the rest of the land deal he wants so that it will never matter what actually goes on within that ballpark. The money will keep coming in. What the Cubs have, what the Braves have, what the Chicago Bears want, and a list of others too long to write out without getting way too depressed.

It won’t have what the A’s meant, what the fans were in the stands. Much like the Raiders, it’ll be some plastic facsimile pawing at the real thing, like the fake New York skyline or Eiffel Tower down the street. A glorified cardboard cutout that will try and assuage tourists and residents that they’re experiencing something they used to remember instead of just homogenized crap.

There are a ton of reasons a team in Vegas won’t work. We could start with the 137° temps in the summer. Visiting fans aren’t as likely to show up in the middle of the week for a three-game series in July as they are for one game on a weekend in the fall. Or that Vegas is already on the cusp of having to ration water in the summers.

Even if any of those come to pass and the A’s can’t get to Vegas, it feels like something is now broken in Oakland. A city that’s been in turmoil thanks to so many things going on in the area, longtime residents pushed out because of the cost, and those that pushed them out getting pushed out themselves due to the costs getting even more ridiculous. And all the layers that we don’t need to get into now.

In strictly sports terms, which really can’t be viewed without the social and political implications, it’s sad what’s happened to Oakland. They created and maintained their own feel and culture around their teams no matter what was going on in The Town, something unique and untouchable. And then they either watched them get co-opted as trendy and part of the scene that these arenas and stadiums stood in stark opposition to, laying the groundwork to move across the water for people who don’t really get it, or leave the area altogether for simply more money. Painful symbolism.

I don’t know that there will be a sports reckoning. They may have become too big to fail. The owners and commissioners long ago swatted away what made sports attractive in the first place, our love and dedication, and the communities we build around them. First, they shoved us farther and farther away from the field with their luxury suites and exorbitant ticket prices. Then they made us pay for stadiums and arenas we can’t even get into. And sometimes they just take the teams away.

It’s gotten to the point where these owners and commissioners don’t need that core it was once built on, and it won’t matter if those stadiums and arenas are consistently half empty. Maybe the RSN collapse is a harbinger, maybe the next TV deals won’t be as sweet, maybe they’ll need us back in the seats, making it a more vibrant place.

Or maybe that ship has sailed. Maybe we’re not coming back, not in the same way. Not creating that place full of weirdos and rebels on cool nights in a stadium too decrepit for use simply because it’s what we do. Not in a place that provided the most passionate support any team ever had and then watched that support used against them. Maybe the ultimate rebellion of Oakland was that it wouldn’t bow to the A’s or Raiders, that there came a point where they wouldn’t be used (though that’s not exactly how it worked, it just feels nice to say). Either way, baseball lost something late last night when Fisher and Dave Kaval released their statement like the cowards they are. It may not think it matters. Maybe it doesn’t. But one day, it just might.