If you went to an Oakland A’s game in the mid-2010s, when Coco Crisp came up to bat you would be doing the Bernie Lean.
You and everyone else in the stadium.
Then, if the A’s were down in the bottom of the 9th, you would be waiting for the walk-off. The A’s would bat last, make a comeback, and win the game.
They won so many games this way, it was a known thing throughout the league. It made other teams nervous.
The player who hit the walk-off would get a pie to the face during their post-game interview.
The A’s have not won a World Series since the 80s. And, they continually trade away the players you love, creating what may seem to a non-fan like a revolving door.
What the A’s do have is culture.
That culture, whether you’re a fan or a player, is what bonds the organization.
You would think that players coming to the A’s, knowing a World Series is a long shot and the likelihood of being traded is high, would create a toxic environment.
You would think fans are dissatisfied with their team.
What you find though, is the A’s culture is so strong, the players seemingly have a blast and the small but loyal fan base shows up in roughly the same numbers whether the A’s are winning or losing.
The A’s culture is things like:
The Bernie Lean.
Pies to the face after a walk-off.
It’s knowing you’re the underdogs, with one of the lowest budgets in baseball, yet you still make it to the playoffs.
It’s knowing your team changed the way baseball is played.
These are things that make the A’s culture work.
Culture is important. It’s likely more important than you think.
When times are tough. When difficult decisions are made. When the odds are stacked against you.
The culture an organization has built might be the only thing that holds it together.
The A’s may not have much, but at least they have culture.