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What the A's?
2006-11-14 22:01
by Mike Carminati

Fremont. The name recalls, at least to me, Dennis the Menace's persnickety neighbor Mr. Wilson's dog. Or was that Tremont? Maybe it was the last name of the lady who was the butt of all the old Marx Brothers' gags. No, that was Margaret Dumont. Or was that the old television network that predated acronyms? I know Lisa Fremont was the name of Grace Kelly's character in the Hitchcock classic "Rear Window".

Anyway, that's me. I'm sure that for everyone else it calls to mind that California town that was the first in the state to embrace the film industry in 1912. The site of the legendary Chaplain film, "The Tramp". It's the city named after "The Great Pathfinder", John Charles Frémont. It's the US city with the largest Afghan population. It's the sister city of both Elizabeth, South Australia and Fukaya, Saitama in Japan. The fourth largest city in the bay area. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

That's right! You guessed it, Fremont, California.

Fremont, California, that city by the…something or other. I frankly know nothing about Fremont other than it's, evidently, near both Oakland and San Jose, which means that the A's can move there without technically leaving their territory. And, of course, now it's the future home of the Oakland Athletics.

That's all fine and well but now the A's are anticipating changing their designation to Fremont. That would match one of the oldest nicknames in the sport, the Athletics, to one of the newest fairly large cities in the country—Fremont is celebrating its fiftieth birthday (again thanks, Wikipedia).

The Fremont A's! Hurrah!

The majors have shunned towns like Buffalo, Charlotte, and Las Vegas. It took DC decades to get back in the majors. But now we are moving into Fremont without so much as a "By your leave"?

Well, I guess if they can stomach the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, they can put up with anything.

In reality, the team will be attempting to expand its base by wooing the very desirable fanbase in San Jose, as well as retaining as many fans in Oakland that can at least drive to the game. Fremont, a city of some two-hundred thousand souls and apparently tons of under utilized real estate, is no more than a marriage of convenience.

Yes, baseball has, or has had in recent memory, teams in towns like Arlington, Texas, and Bloomington, Minnesota. And they too were a marriage of convenience given that these rather modest-sized cities are located near two other larger cities. However, you'll note that baseball never ceded the team naming rights to these palukavilles in the past.

So should Major League Baseball step in and impose a more all-embracing name like the California A's, the Bay Area A's, the Golden State A's, or the California Golden A's? I think the Angels sort of staked their claim to any monikers too generically Californian.

Truthfully, I'd prefer San Jose A's since tapping into the larger, more affluent population in their Californian neighbor appears to be the goal. Maybe that would tick off the San Francisco Giants a bit too much. (It certainly won't please the San Jose Giants.)

Anyway, Fremont is first city since the 1870s that has no baseball history and such a small population relative to the average major-league city. The last team that comes to mind is the Middletown (CT) Mansfields.

To put it in perspective, here are all the US cities with at least a share of a major-league team as compared to Fremont and San Jose:

RankCityState2000 PopTm Shares
1New YorkNY8,008,278 2.0
2Los AngelesCA3,694,820 1.5
3ChicagoIL2,896,016 2.0
4HoustonTX1,953,631 1.0
5PhiladelphiaPA1,517,550 1.0
6PhoenixAZ1,321,045 1.0
7San DiegoCA1,223,400 1.0
8DallasTX1,188,580 0.3
10DetroitMI951,270 1.0
13San FranciscoCA776,733 1.0
17BaltimoreMD651,154 1.0
19MilwaukeeWI596,974 1.0
20BostonMA589,141 1.0
21WashingtonDC572,059 1.0
24SeattleWA563,374 1.0
25DenverCO554,636 1.0
27Fort WorthTX534,694 0.3
33ClevelandOH478,403 1.0
36KansasMO441,545 1.0
40AtlantaGA416,474 1.0
42OaklandCA399,484 1.0
46MinneapolisMN382,618 0.5
48MiamiFL362,470 1.0
50St. LouisMO348,189 1.0
53PittsburghPA334,563 1.0
54ArlingtonTX332,969 0.3
55CincinnatiOH331,285 1.0
56AnaheimCA328,014 0.5
60St. PaulMN287,1510.5
69St. PetersburgFL248,2320.5
11San JoseCA894,943

So let's all say, "Hail Hail Fremont, land of the brave and free", and soon to be home of the A's.

2006-11-15 08:52:23
1.   jakewoods
thats funny
2006-11-15 13:59:52
2.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
Let's forgive you for not being so familiar with the Bay Area... You make it sound like there's nothing but cow-pastures between Oakland and Fremont. At the very least, you are treating Fremont as if it stands on its own, rather than being part of the large, continuous fabric of the cities that surround the Bay. It is almost like saying that the Yankees are from the Bronx, population 1.35 million (not New York, population 8 million).

As such, moving to Fremont is not at all like moving to Buffalo, Charlotte or Las Vegas.

By the way, are you aware the the Oakland A's presently play right next door to the Golden State Warriors? It would be strange to call the A's the Golden State A's when they move away from the location were the Golden State basketball team plays.

And, if the Angels can get away with calling themselves the Los Angeles Angels without the Dodgers being able to fight it, the A's could certainly call themselves the San Jose A's.

Me: I'd prefer the A's stay in Oakland. I can't imagine getting to Fremont for a game -- oh, the traffic!!!

2006-11-15 14:37:21
3.   Jose Habib
It's odd that the Angels would want to move from a "small market" name Anaheim Angels to the "big market" Los Angeles Angels while at the same time the A's want to shift their name in the other direction.

Personally I think "East Bay A's" has a cool ring to it. Maybe they could get East Bay Ray from the Dead Kennedys to play guitar instead of an organist.

2006-11-15 17:34:57
4.   Mike Carminati
2 I'm from the Northeast. Everything South and West of DC is terra incognita as far as I'm concerned. We are plenty scared of all the heretofore red states.

But as far as cow pastures, maybe they shouldn't name their arenas things like "The Cow Palace", it just feeds into our stereotypes.

By the way, how many teams did Oakland steal from Philly anyway? I never thought about both the A's and Warriors ("Warriors come out to play-yay!") came from Phily.

By the way, the Bronx analogy breaks down since it is part of NYC, not a separate city. Insert Newark, NJ, instead and then you've got yourself an argument.

2006-11-16 07:16:18
5.   mehmattski
3 It's not odd at all... the Athletics want to keep up the image of a small market team, so they can continue to keep payroll down even when revenue is up. Of course, the move is to a more affluent fan base, still within a large metropolitan area. But Billy Beane will always insist that the A's are small market. Yeah. Sure.
2006-11-16 14:23:42
6.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
4 (Accepting your lack of familiarity with the Bay Area, but noting that the Bay Area isn't anywhere close to red-stateness...)

Good point about the Cow Palace! I wasn't even thinking about that place, within the city limits of San Francisco, that I think hosts not much more than a Gun Show or two and maybe an IHL season.

Any analogy taken too far breaks down, but I think you got the point: Buffalo, Charlotte or Las Vegas would be the center of a small metropolitan area, while Fremont lies in the overlap of rings that emminate from two centers in an immense, multi-node metropolis, comparable in some ways to the five boroughs of New York (though not encorporated as a single city, or even county).

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