[3] Dolans – Look in Mirror: Oakland Model is Flawed

Cleveland Indians 1948 champs

Well here it is in black and white !! The “Holy Grail” of baseball management !! The Oakland Athletics !!

What I have done here is to put together a simple chart of the Indians and the Oakland Athletics from 2007 to 2014. It shows the “mid-market” (which Oakland is not BTW), “stay within your budget”, “look for bargains using advanced statistics”, “trade away stars before they cost you an arm and a leg” and “strive to be competitive in certain years” model of baseball management. So called “Billy Bean” baseballnomics.

Cleveland Indians
Year      W        L        Pct         GB        Attendance    Salaries
2014    76      70      .521       4.5         1,323,848       82.5 mil
2013    92      70      .568       1.0         1,572,926       77.8 mil
2012    68      94      .420    20.0         1,603,596       78.4 mil
2011    80      82      .494    15.0         1,840,835       49.2 mil
2010    69      93      .426    25.0         1,394,812       61.2 mil
2009    65      97      .401    21.5         1,776,904       81.6 mil
2008    81      81      .500       7.5         2,182,087       79.0 mil
2007    96      66      .593         –            2,275,916        61.7 mil

AVG     78      82       .487    11.8        1,750,000        71.4 mil

Oakland Athletics
Year      W        L        Pct         GB        Attendance    Salaries
2014     81     66      .551       11          1,775,616       83.4 mil
2013     96     66      .593         –            1,809,302       60.7 mil
2012     94     68      .580         –            1,679,013       55.4 mil
2011     74     88      .457    22.0         1,476,781       66.5 mil
2010     81     81      .500       9.0         1,418,391       51.7 mil
2009     75     87      .463    22.0         1,408,783       62.3 mil
2008     75     86      .466    24.5         1,665,256       48.0 mil
2007     76     86      .469    18.0         1,921,844       79.4 mil

AVG      82     79       .509    13.3        1,650,000       63.4 mil

Now I am not going to spend the time analyzing these statistics to death. It is quite clear that crappy low salaries with mediocre performance does not translate into fan support. That doesn’t mean I am implying that salary level directly correlates to fan support either. I do not know that to be true and it is kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy anyway. What I am saying is that the Dolans may have been sent a strong message that they can be fiscally responsible and have a competitive team. If not every year, then some years. Oakland has won their division twice during those years and Cleveland once. Both teams are likely to get a Wild Card game out of one of these seasons as well (assuming Oakland hangs on). Regardless of this competitive reality, the attendance is still awful by any standards for both teams. Now you can point to that awful excuse for a ballpark in Oakland for some of it and the team across the Bay. But the area is still vastly more populated than the metropolitan Cleveland area so I feel those factors balance out. The model SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK when looked at from the perspective of fan acceptance and attendance.

In a future post I will explain why I think that model fails and what the Indians could do about it if they looked in the mirror.