The A’s have signed 1B/DH Jason Giambi to a one year deal worth $4 million, and while Eric Chavez says “I want to see the long-haired Jason back, and a full beard”, the San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Purdy would prefer Giambi’s return to Oakland be prefaced with an apology.
“Throughout the past decade, followers of the A’s have been trained to watch their best players leave town for free agency,” recalls Purdy. “But in their minds, Giambi sparks the worst possible memories.”
“It wasn’t the money,” Giambi said at his introductory New York media conference. “It was the things about playing in New York ” the fans, the city, the chance to win, the manager, the front office and an owner that wants to win.”
Those remarks infuriated then-A’s owner Steve Schott, who pointed out that in the previous two seasons, the A’s had accumulated more victories than the Yankees. But insulting an owner is one thing. Insulting the entire A’s electorate is another.
For example, Giambi told the New York Post: “The West Coast differs profoundly from the traditions of the East Coast. I want to experience the incredible people and the lifestyle.”
Worst of all, he went on the David Letterman show and read off a Top 10 list of reasons he signed with the Yankees. One of the reasons: “Have you ever been to Oakland?”
Thus, when Giambi showed up at the Coliseum in a Yankees uniform the following April, he was met with more scorn and loathing than any opposing player this side of Roger Clemens. Fans booed. They threw fake money toward Giambi. They chanted: “We hate Jason” or “Sellout, sellout.” A banner was unfurled: “Jason Is Dead To Us.”
Answering questions from reporters that night, Giambi was on the defensive. He shrugged off the Letterman episode by noting that he had merely been reading a script penned by one of the show’s writers. But as reporters kept pressing him about abandoning Oakland, Giambi finally snapped.
“When’s the last time they won a World Series around here?” he asked.
It was a fair question back then. But so is this question, today: How many World Series titles did the Yankees win with Giambi during his subsequent seven seasons with the team?