As most old fart stories begin, so does this one by saying "I've lived in Kansas City my whole life" - which is 55 years now. When I was a little shaver, my baseball team was the Kansas City Athletics. The Athletics had come to my home town from Philadelphia in MLB's western expansion, and were generally seen at the time as the worst team in the American League, but with great promise for the future. Most Philadelphia fans followed the cross-town NL Phillies, because in the late 1950's the Phillies were pretty good. The A's needed a fresh start somewhere they'd be loved as the only home town team. KC was exactly that. The Athletics team colors were All-American Patriotic Red, White and Blue. They had an elephant as their mascot -the same mascot first adopted by Connie Mack back in 1909. And they were our team. Kansas City's team.
The primary owner was a guy named Arnold Johnson. Sure, Johnson gave up good players to the Yanks for virtually nothing (see the Roger Maris trade, for example), but the team had a future with other good young players . Then in 1960, the most colossal douche bag owner in MLB history (including Steinbrenner) bought control of the team from Johnson. That colossal douche bag asshole was none other that Charles O. Finley. How big an asshole was Charles O. Finley? When you Google "Charles O. Finley Asshole", it comes up with 7,920 hits in less than one half second.
Charles O. Finley (the "O" stood for "Outrageous") was Cheap as Comiskey. Un-Trustworthy as O'Malley. Sleazy as Veeck. Starting in 1960, COFA (shorthand for Charles O. Finley, Asshole from this point forward) proceeded to turn the A's into a Giant Baseball Clown Car.
First, he screwed with the uniforms, changing red, white and blue to "Kelly Green, Wedding Dress White and Ft. Knox Gold." He made the players wear fruity white cleats. COFA also phased out the team name "Athletics" in favor of "A's." When Mickey Mantle first saw the A's' green-and-gold uniforms, he jeered, "They should have come out of the dugout on tippy-toes, holding hands and singing."
COFA did condescending crap like put sheep out grazing behind the outfield wall. He dumped the elephant as a mascot and brought in a stupid mule named "Charley O.," pandering to hick Missourians. He even took the mule to cocktail parties. After an announcement that COFA intended to ride the mule around the bases at Dodger Stadium during a road game vs. the LA Angels, a reporter wrote: "You can't tell the owner without a program." COFA did kitschy, gimmicky stuff like installing an electrical rabbit called "Harvey" to pop up behind home plate ump with baseballs to entertain the rubes.
But COFA was mostly known for being a giant throbbing dick with ears.
After being told by manager Ed Lopat about the Yankees' success being due to the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium, COFA built the "K.C. Pennant Porch" in right field, which brought the fence in KC's Municipal Stadium to match Yankee Stadium's dimensions exactly, 296 feet from home plate. He did this ignoring a rule passed in 1958 that said no new or renovated major-league fence could be closer than 325 feet, so league officials had to force him to move the fences back. COFA countered by ordering a white line to be painted on the field at the original "Pennant Porch" distance, and told the stadium PA announcer to say "That would have been a home run in Yankee Stadium" whenever a fly ball was hit past that line but short of the fence. That went away quick after the PA guy was calling more "would-be" dingers for the visitors than for the A's. COFA also was stupid enough to want to change the color of the baseball from white to orange, oblivious to the fact that the color change would keep the hitter from being able to pick up the spin on the ball, giving the pitcher a tremendous advantage.
His employees all loathed him. During the team’s last years in KC, the players revolted against a fine levied on pitcher Lew Krausse. “Hawk” Harrelson, one of the A’s better players at the time (now infamous announcer for the Chisox), called COFA “a menace to baseball” and was cut for being a figurehead of the player revolt. Manager Alvin Dark was fired for not disassociating himself from the rebellious players. COFA ended up being dragged before the National Labor Relations Board and condemned as a result of his boorish conduct.
So, with all this going on, COFA started whining to KC city leaders that Municipal Stadium wasn't big enough, wasn't new enough, wasn't good enough. He was the first owner to hold a city hostage for stadium demands. COFA extorted a new lease from the city, and then began dropping hints that if he didn't get more of what he wanted, he would move his team and sign a lease for a stadium in Louisville. The other American League owners refused to approve the Louisville relocation proposal by a vote of 9-1, COFA being the only vote in favor. So, COFA signed a new lease back in Kansas City and then sued to reclaim rights to the earlier lease, which included an escape clause. He then announced that the franchise was for sale and drew offers from Denver and San Diego. With so much shit flying around, American League president Joe Cronin promised COFA that he could move within three years if he wanted to. The other owners finally approved COFA's proposal to relocate his team to Oakland for the 1968 season and promised Kansas City a new expansion team (YOUR KANSAS CITY ROYALS) in 1969 to make up for all the bullshit. That did not stop Missouri Senator Stuart Symington from branding COFA “one of the most disreputable characters ever to enter the American sports scene.”
Why else should we loathe this historically colossal douche? After he takes our team off to Oakland, the team's young players, who learned their trade toiling in KC, became a veteran-laden AL dynasty. They won the AL West five straight years -1971 to 1975- and routinely rubbed the young, upstart Royals face in the shit, much like an untrained puppy on a newspaper. They won three straight World Series trophies. Our KC Royals finally over came it in 1976 to end the A's dark rein. How? Because COFA was a cheap stake, and free agency blew his team up. After the 1974 WS, Catfish Hunter was declared a free agent because COFA had failed to set aside part of Hunter's salary in an annuity, as required by his contract. Hunter then signed a sweet deal with the Yanks. After the real start of league wide free agency, and after failing to get rid of Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, COFA gutted the A's before his best players could just walk away. Besides Hunter, the Yanks also ended up with Reggie Jackson, both of whom would figure greatly in the push down of our Royals starting in 1976, the seeds of starting the infamous KC-Yanks rivalry.
A Preteen Stanley Burrell -AKA MC Hammer- was a batboy/bitch for COFA. He was instructed to listen in on player conversations and dish the dirt back to COFA behind the players back. He was the clubhouse company snitch. The players called him "the pipeline."
So there you have it.
COFA's rein with the A's lasted 20 years. He personally cost us KC baseball fans at least three world series championships for sure, maybe more if they had stayed permanently. The A's stadium has been named and re-named and re-named, but it's still known mostly as "The Mausoleum." The A's are the only MLB team left that has to share their stadium with an NFL team (The father raping, convict laden 0-4 Oakland Raiders). Their crappy below sea level park is best known for having raw sewage spills which routinely happen in the dugout and clubhouses.
You can smell the shit from here:
Although official capacity was stated to be 43,662 for baseball, seats were sometimes sold up in Mount Davis (a nose bleed add-on that Big Al had built for football) pushing "real" capacity to the area of 60,000. The ready availability of tickets on game day made season tickets a tough sell, while crowds as high as 30,000 often seemed sparse in such cavernous place. In 2006 the A's announced that seats in the Mausoleum's third deck would no longer be sold, but would instead be covered with a big ass green tarp. Classy. That effectively reduced capacity to 34,077, making the Mausoleum the smallest stadium in Major League Baseball. They purposely shrunk their stadium after they left KC because….the new stadium was too big. Assholes. Total freaking Assholes.
Well, Thank God for MR. KAUFFMAN. The Royals flourished while he was here, then floundered after his death, and now after 29 long years in the wilderness, we're back with a vengeance, baby. Even the post-COFA teams were dicks, The Bash Brothers were just a couple of roided up cheaters with Tony LaRussa looking the other way. They have no honor as a franchise. They suck, and they're currently threatening their fans about moving again to Sacramento. Let em go. That's almost as big of a toilet town as Oakland. Almost.
It's long past time to get some payback on these Garish Green and Gold Oakland Turds. Oh, btw, on their website, the A's are already selling ALDS tickets vs. the Angels are a foregone conclusion, and are calling the upcoming post-season "Oak-Tober."
One thing we do know. Win or lose, their stupid fans will riot afterwards and burn their own toilet of a town. That's a given.
The final reason I hate these ****ers? The movie "Money Ball" from 2011. They use the Royals as the big finale for the team's 20th straight win, showing Jason Grimsley blowing an 11 to 0 lead after three innings. to lose in the 9th on a Scott Hatteberg walk off homer. Hey, I lived that game in real life -I watched that whole game when it happened for real in 2001. Now I have to live it over and over and over on the MLB channel every time they show that frickin' movie. All I can say is I'm glad Art Howe OD'ed and died three years later. Karma's a bitch.
So, as the crusty yet benign manager Lou Brown once said: "Let's give them all a great big shit burger to eat!"
Gird up your loins. Pin your batting gloves to the bedpost, sacrifice a live chicken, leave some rum for Jobu, smear your bat with pine tar and your jersey with BBQ sauce, prepare your rally hats. Let's stick it to this California clown show and send them back to the fetid stinking sewer from which they crawled.
Let's Play Ball.
WHO'S WITH ME????