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A’s Move to Sacramento Puts the City in an Unfamiliar Sports Role

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A’s Move to Sacramento Puts the City in an Unfamiliar Sports Role

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Sports fans in Sacramento suddenly find themselves playing the unfamiliar role of villain.

They endured years of nearly losing their only major-league franchise, the Kings of the N.B.A., to a bigger market with more money and more national stature. They were awarded a Major League Soccer expansion team in 2019, only to have the plan collapse when the billionaire leading the effort backed out during the pandemic.

The scars from those events are only now beginning to heal, and many Sacramentans swore they would never do unto others what was done to them.

But that’s what fans will have to come to terms with, now that the Oakland Athletics have officially announced that they will relocate 90 miles up the freeway next season and play their home games in the capital region while their permanent new home is being in Las Vegas. The move will mark the end of the team’s 57-year tenure in Oakland — and the end of major-league sports in the East Bay.

The franchise, which won four World Series titles in Oakland, and whose chief baseball mastermind was portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film “Moneyball,” will begin competing next season in a minor-league ballpark where children now roll down a grassy hill behind right field and fans bring their dogs to Wednesday night games.

The stadium, Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento, directly across the Sacramento River from downtown, will surely look different when the A’s take the field in 2025. Sacramento has long dreamed of being a Major League Baseball city, and there’s little doubt that the A’s will draw larger crowds than they have in Oakland the past few years, when the franchise’s owners seemed to go out of their way to alienate the passionate fan base.

More than a decade ago, I covered the lengthy effort by Sacramento leaders to prevent the Kings from moving to Anaheim, Virginia Beach or Seattle. Kings fans were just as anxious and distraught as A’s fans have been recently, viewing other cities with deep suspicion.

And now the Sacramento region has taken, at least temporarily, what belonged to Oakland.

“I can’t get over my fear, with everything we went through with the Kings, that if we in any way leveraged the city of Oakland and made it more difficult for the A’s to return there, then we are complicit in the very thing that would have outraged us just 10 years ago,” said Dave Weiglein, a Sacramento sports radio host known locally as “Carmichael Dave.”

Weiglein was among the most prominent faces of a fan effort to keep the Kings from moving away, and his passionate “why can’t we have nice things” approach to Sacramento sports resonates with a region that seems always to get close to, but never quite reach, its goals.

Many baseball fans in Sacramento are already seeing the A’s temporary residence with a mixture of excitement and skepticism.

Some are ecstatic that they will be able to see baseball’s biggest stars, like Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers, without driving two hours to a stadium in the Bay Area. They say that the A’s were going to leave Oakland anyway, and that Sacramento shouldn’t feel guilty about being a way station for the team.

Others are skeptical of the A’s principal owner, John Fisher, and his intentions — the A’s are not expected even to take Sacramento’s name — and feel that the city somehow allowed itself to be used against Oakland’s efforts to retain the team.

And, of course, residents are getting an earful from Bay Area die-hards who are livid at Sacramento for giving Fisher a path out of Oakland.

Will the A’s create a real connection with a region that seems to be in a perpetual state of trying to prove its worth? Or will they be just another Bay Area transplant taking out a rental for a while, only to move on to a splashier destination?

Sacramento clearly sees the next three years as an audition, in case the A’s deal in Las Vegas collapses. If that happens and Sacramento becomes the final landing spot for Oakland’s last remaining big league sports team, fans in the East Bay won’t have to travel very far to find their villain.

Ryan Lillis is a longtime baseball fan, Little League manager and former reporter for The Sacramento Bee.

Sharif Hussein Farrag is a ceramic artist. Alexandra Ann Plzak is a financial analyst. But as the saying goes, opposites attract.

The pair met in 2016 at a party at the University of Southern California, where Farrag was studying art and Plzak was majoring in math and economics. Despite their vastly different disciplines, the two hit it off and retreated from the gathering to Plzak’s house to watch “Kitchen Confidential” together.

A few months later, they began dating. They spent the rest of their college careers studying alongside each other — Farrag at work in the ceramics studio, and Plzak beside him, plugging numbers into Excel spreadsheets.

After college, they dated long-distance, with Farrag in Los Angeles focusing on his art, and Plzak four hours away in Paso Robles, working in finance for the Justin winery. When the pandemic hit, the two moved in together in L.A., and in March 2023, Farrag proposed.

The couple tied the knot in a ceremony last month, a week after Farrag showcased one of his works at Frieze Los Angeles, a contemporary art fair. The wedding was held at the Eden Garden Bar and Grill in Pasadena and blended their Catholic and Muslim upbringings.


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