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A case of `Fisher fatigue’ helps tone down boycott movement for Athletics fans


OAKLAND — Bryan Johansen surveyed the landscape Friday night before the Athletics faced the Toronto Blue Jays at the Coliseum with equal parts satisfaction and resignation.

It was a heck of a party for fans who have united against A’s owner John Fisher for moving their team to Sacramento and eventually Las Vegas.

At the same time, even with grunge rock bands in the parking lot and “Sell” shirts and signs everywhere, it wasn’t anywhere near the atmosphere of the “Reverse Boycott” night of June 13 of last season that drew 27,759 fans and gained national attention.

“Nothing is as good as the first time,” said the co-founder of the Last Dive Bar. “Sequels to movies are never as good. But this is an opportunity for fans that haven’t come to be here and feel bad about it. You’re probably going to see the most amount of “Sell” flags you’ll see at one location. That will be cool.”

Indeed, “Sell” flags were displayed on every freeway overpass on Highway 880 North from San Lorenzo to the Coliseum. And there are still those who believe the deal can blow up to the point where the A’s wind up back in Oakland with a new owner.

But for many, that’s a pipe dream, and as the season goes along, the realization sets in that the A’s will be gone for good as far as Oakland is concerned.

Friday night’s event, besides the tailgate, also included a gathering at Line 51 Brewery in Oakland with radio hosts Damon Amendolara and Damon Bruce, who were on Sirius Radio from noon to 3 p.m., attended the tailgate and then sat in the left field bleachers.

One fan selling A’s gear out of the back of a truck joked that business was a little slower than he expected.

“No one wants A’s stuff anymore, I guess,” he said. “Gotta put Sacramento on it. Or Las Vegas maybe.”

Scott Destefens of Vacaville brought his children, and his son even won a Matt Chapman bobblehead at a Line 51 raffle. He said Friday night’s crowd was a “backyard barbecue” compared to last year’s game and was dubious about a chain of events that could lead the A’s back to Oakland.

“That’d be nice, but honestly, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Destefens said. “Major League baseball wants a team in Vegas.”

Will MacNeil of Dublin, a longtime season-ticket holder and mainstay of the right field bleachers, agreed with the “Fisher fatigue” theory to a point. MacNeil said the A’s making public a plan to play up to eight games outside of Las Vegas once they get there is proof of the futility of the franchise.

“But we’re tired of him as a whole and his antics,” MacNeil said. “It’s the fatigue of the news and them being inept and incompetent at what they do. I think Las Vegas is starting to realize, `Maybe we shouldn’t get behind this. Maybe this is not the guy we need.’ We’ll see what happens, but more and more I think the A’s are going to end up in Sacramento.”

Mike Bucci, a member of the Newark City Council, had several flags flapping in the wind extended skyward from his pickup truck. Bucci was all in on the boycott, but like a lot of fans, is torn between giving his 9-year-old daughter a chance to see the A’s play or handing his money over to the A’s when Fisher remains silent and his mouthpiece Dave Kaval makes little sense.

The band, Aggravated Assault’s bassist Ajay Moore and drummer Kevin Hernandez play during a reverse boycott in the parking lot at the Coliseum. Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group

“Nothing’s going to match the first reverse boycott and I think there’s definitely some fatigue,” Bucci said. “They wear you down, and what they hope is you kind of just throw in the towel, and that’s never been the way to get things done.”

Bucci is skeptical about Las Vegas actually happening, but thinks Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive made a shrewd move in getting the A’s to Sutter Health Park on a temporary basis.

“I think he knows Fisher isn’t good at getting things across the finish line and this is Sacramento’s opportunity to either show they deserve a team or keep the A’s there,” Bucci said.

Bucci’s dream? That an Oakland-based African-American Sports Entertainment group that is looking to buy 50 percent of the Coliseum could be a bidder for the A’s if Fisher is forced to sell in the event Las Vegas falls through.

Tom Bostick of Fremont, who was at Bucci’s tailgate, said of Fisher’s business practices, “It’s hard to keep beating a dead horse. You want him to love baseball, but he clearly doesn’t. He’s shown that for years. It seems like since the ’89 series it’s been about, `Let’s string people along until we up and leave.’ ”

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