Since it now trickles throughout the length of the season, MLB has seemingly dropped its big marketing push for interleague play. Either way, baseball’s schedule is still taking a break this week, expanding interleague from one series per day to all 15, with a big focus on cross-town or nearby interleague rivalries. The Yankees are playing the Mets. The Cubs are playing the White Sox. The Giants are playing the A’s.
I don’t really have strong feelings toward the idea of interleague play one way or the other, but I do think that these cross-town rivalry games can certainly be fun. The fan bases usually get into it, and even though interleague is more common now than ever before, there’s still a certain amount of rarity in seeing Washington play Baltimore.
Now, naturally, since these teams don’t often see each other, some of these rivalries are tepid at best. But as you might imagine, a handful of the cross-town series can get rather heated, especially if the two teams share a metropolitan area and actively compete with each other for fans.
San Francisco and Oakland are this way, and it’s only been exacerbated by the A’s and their centuries-long stadium search, compounded by the Giants claiming territorial rights to San Jose. Which makes it baffling to see what CBS Sports columnist Jon Heyman tweeted Tuesday night.
How did Heyman honestly think this would be received? With open arms? With agreement from the Oakland fanbase?
The city of Oakland has always been San Francisco’s little brother. It’s not romanticized across the world like San Francisco is. It doesn’t have that gorgeous skyline. And, to put it lightly, Oakland isn’t exactly known for its public safety or lack of crime. But Oakland is a rich, vibrant city all its own, and its residents are proud of it. That said, living in the shadow of San Francisco means that Oakland is often passed up in favor of its big brother, so when the Giants dominate local headlines and come close to selling out every game in their beautiful downtown waterfront ballpark, it stings. The Oakland Coliseum sits right next to a large handful of metal fabricators and a Pick-N-Pull.
Heyman’s tweet did more than simply anger a segment of the Athletics fan base. The tweet clearly caught fire inside the A’s clubhouse, and a bunch of players replied to Heyman with varying combinations of sarcasm, dismissal, and outright hostility.
Heyman himself seems perplexed at the reaction his tweet drew over the night. In a text message sent to an Oakland sports radio station, Heyman declined an interview, saying “Sorry no disrespect but don’t want to get caught up in fake controversy…Just meant to draw comparison between best and worst baseball stadiums. Surprised A’s fans love Coliseum so much…I’d have assumed they’d agree with their team and ownership that they prefer a new stadium.”
It may seem obvious to everyone else, but Heyman isn’t apologizing for the same thing he wrote earlier. Either this is an incredible backpedal in the name of damage control, or Jon Heyman legitimately believes that his original tweet conveyed no harsher message than “AT&T Park is a nicer stadium than the Coliseum”. Nobody disagrees with that one, Jon!
Of course, there is a third possible avenue of reasoning behind Heyman’s remarks. It’s that he’s fully aware of all of this, and yet, he can’t resist poking the bear while standing on the podium afforded to him by virtue of being a national sports writer. If that’s the case, Jon, it sure is a real #shame.