After nearly two years of controversy and routine public criticism, the Oakland Athletics have had yet another week of bad press. After being accused of punishing two players for indirectly supporting a fan protest against owner John Fisher, the team announced Wednesday that it would play in Sacramento next season while its Las Vegas stadium is being built.

The Athletics are expected to remain in Sacramento through the 2027 season, at which point they can finally make their oft-maligned move to Las Vegas. This will be the team’s last season in Oakland, where the A’s have competed since 1968.

The Oakland fanbase has led a determined campaign to keep the team and remove Fisher from power, but no reverse boycott or actual boycott could lead to any real change. Fisher believes that the team could be more profitable in Las Vegas, and despite massive pushback at nearly every turn, it seems he will get what he wants.

While the Athletics’ ownership triumphs over its own fans, there are also allegations that the team is punishing its players as well. Many fans were confused when outfielder Esteury Ruiz was sent down to the minors. The 25-year-old led the team in steals last season and began 2024 batting .429 through three games.

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“We saw some better at-bats this spring, but the reality is, to use his skills, he needs to get on base,” A’s general manager David Forst said of Ruiz. “He needs to be able to do that on a consistent basis. I’m hoping leading off every day at Triple-A, it’s not a long stay for him down there.”

The real reason behind Ruiz’s demotion could simply be service time manipulation, a somewhat seedy practice some teams employ to delay contract negotiations. However, the team has also benched 2023 All-Star outfielder Brent Rooker, causing further confusion.

Some fans online speculated that Ruiz and Rooker were punished by Oakland management for wearing bracelets made by Last Dive Bar, a local organization that has been extremely critical of Athletics ownership. Rooker said Wednesday that there is “no merit” to these allegations, but it hasn’t prevented frustrated fans from promoting the theory anyway.

As the Athletics, already 1-4 in 2024, limp through one final season in Oakland, a long-hoped-for reunion between management and local fans will likely never come to fruition. Once the team leaves the Oakland Coliseum, it will compete at Sutter Health Park in Sacramento, the home of the Sacramento River Cats, the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate.

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