OAKLAND -- The Oakland A’s are good. In fact, they might be really good, but you wouldn’t know it by the number of fans streaming in the turnstiles. While the vibe around the team is amazing, the players are starting to notice the lack of support and they are starting to get vocal about the issue.
Matt Chapman is the latest A’s player to step up and make a public plea to the Oakland fanbase. After posting multiple highlight reel defensive plays to go with three doubles, three runs and a pair of RBI, the second-year third basemen topped his night off with a pointed message.
“I just want to use this time to just encourage people in Oakland to come out, man,” the 25-year-old star said on the A’s telecast following the A’s 7-6 win on Monday night. “All the fans and support we can get, we can really appreciate it. Tonight, we’re fighting ‘til the very end against the Mariners and I just wish we can get some people out here, man. We’re fun to watch. We really want our fans to come out and support us, it’d be great.”
Chapman is 100-percent correct. This is an exciting and fun team to watch. They play hard. They hit home runs. They hustle all over the field and they have one of the best bullpens in major league baseball.
The announced crowd of 10,400 fans is not what you would expect to see when a team is in the thick of a postseason chase. With the win, the A’s moved to 71-48 on the season. They trail the Houston Astros by just two games for the lead in the West and they have a 2.5 game lead over Seattle for the wildcard.
Chapman is on the cusp of being the next superstar. He’s a player that fans would love to see play his entire career in green and gold. There is a history of players like him leaving long before they should, but at some point fans need to show up and appreciate him for the special player he is and the unique team that the A’s front office has assembled.
This club is pacing for 97 wins. They have momentum and they are in the midst of a long homestand against division rivals fighting for a playoff spot. It’s probably time for the fanbase to come to the ballpark and show them the love and respect they deserve.
On Friday, A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty had surgery to remove a melanoma from his right ear. Three days later, he's back in the starting lineup as Oakland opens a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at the Coliseum Monday night.
The A's lost two of the three games Piscotty missed, so his return will be a welcome sight for the club.
[RELATED: Piscotty addresses melanoma surgery]
With Piscotty back in the lineup, Mark Canha is on the bench.
Mike Fiers will get the start for the A's. In his last start against Tampa Bay, the veteran right-hander allowed three hits and two earned runs over six innings.
Baltimore Orioles (21-50):
1. Jonathan Villar (S) SS
2. Anthony Santander (S) LF
3. Trey Mancini (R) RF
4. Chance Sisco (L) C
5. Pedro Severino (R) DH
6. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
7. Hanser Alberto (R) 2B
8. Chris Davis (L) 1B
9. Stevie Wilkerson (S) CF
RHP -- Andrew Cashner (6-2, 4.73 ERA)
Oakland A's (36-36):
1. Marcus Semien (R) SS
2. Matt Chapman (R) 3B
3. Matt Olson (L) 1B
4. Khris Davis (R) DH
5. Ramon Laureano (R) CF
6. Robbie Grossman (S) LF
7. Stephen Piscotty (R) RF
8. Jurickson Profar (S) 2B
9. Josh Phegley (R) C
RHP -- Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.63 ERA)
OAKLAND -- A few weeks ago, after a rare poor outing, A's reliever Liam Hendriks did something he hardly ever does. He went on social media and checked his mentions.
As he expected, the comments weren't pretty -- everything from generic insults and taunts to wishes for injury, ill will toward his family, and even death threats. Hendriks chose to share a couple of these messages on his Instagram story in order to make a point.
"I stayed off social media for years," he said. "This is the first year I've had social media. That was by choice and for a reason because of the cyberbullying that goes on. It's something that affects everybody, not just kids at school."
That's something Hendriks wants to make clear, especially for the many children who are victims of bullying.
"I want them to know that they're not alone, that this doesn't just happen to them," he explained. "No matter who you are, you're going to get those people who are out there just to hate. ... It's an issue that affects everybody, especially with how much kids are on social media these days."
This year, Hendriks and his wife Kristi decided to fight back against cyberbullying, an issue that has affected both of them personally. Kristi runs an online clothing store and has faced harassment, particularly when people find out who she is.
"We've wanted to do something," Hendriks said. "We've always spoken out against cyberbullying, but I think this year was one where we really decided to focus on it. It's something that has affected both my wife and me, and we decided to take a stand against it and do what we can to try to prevent the cause."
Hendriks has teamed up with Major League Baseball's Shred Hate campaign, which seeks to "eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness." ESPN and X Games are also involved with Shred Hate.
"MLB's mission with Shred Hate is huge because it shows kids that all of these athletes are behind you," Hendriks said. "They get the same thing. It doesn't matter what someone says online. It just matters who you are."
Last year, Kristi and Liam Hendriks participated in Canada's Pink Shirt Day, which aimed to get Canadians to stand up against bullying. Hendriks even got several of his A's teammates to join him.
Hendriks says he and his wife would like to be even more active in the community moving forward. They hope to speak at schools about cyberbullying.
"That's definitely our plan, to try to speak to groups and just go over the fact that they're not alone. If they need an ear, just shoot me a message."