By Jason Wojciechowski on February 25, 2010 at 10:30 AM
This column by Will Leitch at Deadspin about the A's, and about how they're likely to lose their identity if/when they leave Oakland, hits too close to home to make me happy. I'm one of those far-flung fans he talks about. I did grow up in Northern California, but two hours from Oakland -- I only went to single-digits A's games (although I did get to see them in Vegas while the Coliseum was being Al-Davis-ized), and maybe even a count-on-one-hand number. Since high school graduation, I've been a fan of the team from Amherst, Manhattan, and South Texas. I will shortly be a fan of the team from Los Angeles. (Come to think of it, between the visits to Shea, Yankee, and Arlington, I may have seen the team on the road as many times as I ever saw them at home.)
The fact that I'm a long-distance fan should make it easier for me to follow the team when they move, right? If they're in Portland or San Jose or Las Vegas, they'll still be the same team as far as I'm concerned, yes?
No. I think what Leitch is getting at is right. I mean, look at Jonah Keri (as Leitch does), the world's most famous Expos fan. He doesn't live in Montreal, but he's no follower of the Washington Nationals. If the team moves far enough away, they very likely will lose their identity and it may become very hard to be a fan.
I have no idea what I'll do then. Will I become teamless? Will I overcome the new identity and love the new A's, not for who they were, but for who they are and will be? Will I watch curling instead?
It's not a small part of me, by the way, that says "forty miles south to San Jose won't change who this team is" and thus fervently hopes that, if they really do have to move, they'll just move to San Jose. But I'm probably fooling myself. San Jose isn't Oakland. It's not even close. It's a different kind of city with a different kind of people. It will be a different kind of ballpark and an entirely different fanbase. Fremont at least sort of split the difference between San Jose and Oakland, but San Jose itself? It's wishful thinking.