Oakland A's: Be Nice or Leave - NBC Bay Area

Oakland A's: Be Nice or Leave



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    The A's are dropping the ball on sign policies.

    The Oakland A's already had an awful attendance problem, as the AP reports this season's average A's game attendance is just barely over half of the MLB average for the 2010 season.

    Now they have another problem. The precious few Oakland fans who are actually at the games are getting kicked out for hoisting homemade signs critical of A's owner Lew Wolff. Wolff hopes to move the team to San Jose.

    A's fan Jorge Leon was kicked out of an A's game earlier this month for holding up a "Lew Wolff Hates Oakland" sign.

    "Fans bring signs all the time talking about players, is that in bad taste?," Leon told the East Bay Express. "I decided that I had to stand up and fight for what I love."

    Stand up and fight is what Jorge Leon did. Now he's got Oakland City Attorney John  Russo on his side, and he's engaging in a legal battle to end the ban on signs that mock the A's owner.

    "Whether or not Mr. Wolff hates Oakland is not relevant," City Attorney Russo said, in one of the most hilarious legal briefing statements ever. "Either way, the A’s may not prohibit fans from speaking their minds about his ownership of the team."

    When teams ban negative signs to limit bad publicity, it typically has the opposite effect. Back in 2005, a fan at a Detroit Lions game was kicked out for hoisting a "Fire Millen!" sign, referring to the team's unpopular general manager Matt Millen.

    That one fan and his one phrase became an instant media sensation. Web sites popped up in his honor, thousands of "Fire Millen!" shorts were sold across Michigan, and people came to the games just to hold up "Fire Millen!" signs.

    Take note, Lew Wolff. It's one way to get fans to show up for games.

     Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who expects a few "Fire Kukura!" remarks in the comments section.