Learning to Say Goodbye

It’s not easy being an A’s fan. The team seems to be a factory for players who go on to have successful careers outside of Oakland. We’ve had to learn not to get too attached to players, because we know that in a few seasons, they’ll be bought by or traded to some team with a nicer stadium and higher payroll. And today, we all re-learned the nature of our team: Rich Harden, the flame-throwing righty who spent his career with the Athletics, was traded away (along with reliever Chad Gaudin) to the Chicago Cubs.

Like I said, losing players like this is nothing new for A’s fans. Sometimes they leave because they weren’t offered enough money by the poor old A’s (such as Jason Giambi or Barry Zito), and they become hated by fans, drawing the largest boos upon their return. But more often, they go because they are traded or aren’t offered a new contract by the A’s. When that happens (as it did with Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Eric Byrnes, Jason Kendall, Frank Thomas, and most recently Harden to name only a few), we wish the player luck and hope to move on without them. Even though it’s happened so often over the years, you’re never really prepared for it.

But still, like the fans of any team that goes through routine hardship, we eventually accept that they’re gone, and that others will be leaving soon as well. We find the ability to go back to our cheap team with the ugly stadium and players that don’t stick around for more than a few seasons because (again, like any true fan) we love this team. In that Tour de France ad I talked about a few days ago, they say cycling fans are masochists. No, you’re not – want some real masochists? Take a trip to the Oakland Coliseum on a Tuesday night. Those fans enduring the chill of a Bay Area summer evening are the real troopers: they know the players on the field will break their hearts and leave soon. But for now, with their team on the field and new loyalties forming, they’re forgetting the lessons they’ve learned and letting themselves get a little too attached.

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