Theo Epstein has made it official: he’s leaving the Boston Red Sox for the friendly and eternally losing confines of Wrigley Field.

While everyone obsesses over how quickly Theo can transform the Cubs from perennial mediocrity into World Series champs, his departure from Fenway Park does bring the Moneyball concept full circle. 

Remember the dynamic and exciting Oakland Athletics teams that were the subject of the Michael Lewis book and of the current hit movie starring Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill?

The A’s supposedly popularized the “Moneyball” approach to small-market baseball success, and while Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane never won a World Series, an admiring young Theo Epstein later put some of the Moneyball concepts in place and won twice with the Red Sox (’04 and ’07).

Now Epstein has taken his act, and presumably, his spreadsheets and databases, to Chicago, one of MLB‘s most well-heeled teams.

Meanwhile, it is more than a little ironic then that one of the few MLB teams more forlorn than Epstein’s Cubs is the current version of the A’s. Oakland ended 2011 with a fifth straight non-winning season—one of the worst stretches ever for the storied franchise. 

The A’s were not only bad in 2011, they ranked near the top in the AL for errors committed and near the bottom in batting; they were also boring.

Quick, name one compelling young star player on the A’s—the type of player you’d ditch work early to watch. Okay, Jemile Weeks. He is not quite a top-tier player yet, but he’s the closest thing the A’s have to a compelling young star. Now, name another…

If the A’s were relegated out of MLB—the way the cellar-dwelling English soccer clubs are sentenced to every season in the EPL—would anyone miss them? Perhaps the few thousand fans who turn up at the Coliseum, but that’s a tiny fraction of those who passionately followed the team during the Moneyball era.

Were you at the jam-packed Coliseum during the pulsating 2006 AL playoffs—especially the “Marco…SCUTARO!” game? (Of course you were…I’ll bet half a million of us were at that game!) 

Was that only five years ago? The A’s have faded from Moneyball darlings to irrelevant and unwatchable with frightening speed. 

Oh, and the Coliseum (now known as Coliseum—which raises the question of whether Chad Ochocinco secretly won the naming rights) is hardly a destination ballpark. Once a fairly pleasant venue with eucalyptus trees gently swaying beyond the bleachers, it is now a charmless and aging concrete dump; a football stadium controlled by Al Davis’ ghost and the Carson Palmer-led Raiders. 

And, between the San Francisco Giants flexing their rights to Santa Clara County, and the current A’s ownership’s apparent inability to decide where the team should play (Fremont? Jack London Square? San Jose?), the team is stuck at for the foreseeable future.

Unlike Moneyball, the real life movie for the Oakland A’s has no winner.

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