Chris Bassitt and Marcus Semien speak out on Oakland Athletics dysfunction

Chris Bassitt, Marcus Semien
Chris Bassitt, Marcus Semien / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

It wasn't so long ago that the Oakland Athletics were one of the premier teams in the American League. This may come as a surprise to newer fans of the game, because for what feels like forever, the club has been the laughing stock of the league.

As recently as 2018 and 2019, this was a club that put up back-to-back 97-win seasons. On those teams were players who ultimately wound up on the Blue Jays; like Chris Bassitt, Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman.

We all know what Semien was able to accomplish in a Jays uniform, setting the single-season record for home runs by a second baseman and finishing third in AL MVP voting in what wound up being just one year with the club. Bassitt and Chapman remain on the team and both are expected to be huge contributors to the 2023 squad.

Bassitt in particular has expressed public frustration with how A's ownership has chosen to run things in recent years. He recently told "Foul Territory", a YouTube channel that is ran by a handful of ex-MLB players, that he remains in a massive group chat to this day that will wonder to each other how things could've gone for those 2018-2019 squads if there was different ownership.

"We still talk pretty frequently and it was more like, 'man if we just added a piece or two to the roster with [Marcus] Semien, [Matt] Olson and [Matt] Chapman, we had a chance to do something special there."

As Bassitt points out, ownership decided to blow it up instead. The club was gutted from head to toe and virtually every single star was traded away, something Bassitt says, "remains a touchy subject with all of us". He adds that he thinks it's ridiculous that a team can make a conscious effort to lose ballgames like the A's of today clearly are.

“That’s just not trying to win,” Bassitt said. “I’m not saying you gotta go spend $400 million, but I mean, you got to put a product on the field where it’s like, ‘alright, we’re investing in players that are really, really good to try to win a World Series.’ So I just think if you’re not in the game to try to win a World Series, then I don’t think you should be an owner. I really don’t.”

So here we are, with the A's inching closer and closer to relocating from Oakland to Las Vegas, a move that is likely necessary, but also one that could've been avoided. The general consensus around the league is that the ownership of the club has purposefully began to field awful teams in hopes of forcing their way out of Oakland. It seems, for now, that their mission is close to accomplished.

Semien echoed Bassitt's statements about how the club fell apart after multiple successful seasons, adding that, "it’s pretty sad for the community in Oakland. When I played in Oakland, my first three years there we weren’t very good. The next three, we were very good. The crowds didn’t change very much. So I know in terms of how to put fans in the stands, I know this is a better strategy for them.”

Bassitt and Semien both carefully kept John Fisher's (the club's owner) name out of their conversations, which is ultimately the best choice. There's no need for name dropping and unnecessary in-season drama, but their points remain: the club has turned into an absolute trainwreck.

The club's relocation is not fully done yet, and there technically is time for this to fail to come to fruition. If Fisher has shown us anything over the years, it's that he knows how to lend a hand in the destruction of a good thing. It remains to be seen how this ends, but many former players of this storied franchise have every right to be upset with how their time there was handled.