The 2012 Oakland Athletics are a team that has had tremendous turnover this offseason. There has been an exodus of players from last season, as this winter has seen multiple veterans depart via trade and free agency.
With such an excavation of talent, many people have decided that the Athletics are for the meantime unworthy of their fanship, as the team is more focused on moving to San Jose than fielding a winning team.
In an effort to bolster their outfield, it was reported last week that Oakland has come to terms with free-agent outfielder Jonny Gomes. The latent function is ironically an increase in attendance in 2012, as Gomes is a local product, having grown up in close-enough Petaluma in the North Bay.
The nine-year pro has admitted that he is extra generous with tickets for his friends and family whenever he visits the Bay Area as a visitor—they fill up an entire section in the Oakland Coliseum. By virtue of his signing, the A's attendance, recently the lowest in all of baseball, skyrockets a tick in 2012.
Gomes adds some right-handed pop to a lineup that lacks power on both sides of the plate. Though he has not played more than 148 games in an MLB season, he has managed three 20-home run seasons, and by far has more than any other Athletic on the current roster.
Bringing the local boy back home is a breath of fresh air for a team that is marred in a battle between two different Bay Area cities. He's been considered a great clubhouse guy who has a addictive fun personality, something A's GM Billy Beane was attracted to, especially considering the youth of the ball club.
Some fun facts about the offbeat Gomes:
- As an homage to his hometown of Petaluma, Gomes has the area code 707 written on his glove and cleats.
- His affinity to his Petaluma peaked when the city proclaimed February 11, 2006 to be Jonny Gomes Day.
- In 2005, while with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Gomes finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, finishing with a .282 batting average, 21 home runs, 54 runs batted in and a .906 OPS, in only 101 games played.
- At a burly 6'1", 225 pounds, Gomes packs a lot of punch. His power was on display at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field, when he hit two catwalk rings that hang right below the stadium's ceiling.
- Again with Tampa Bay, in 2008, Gomes was in a scuffle, throwing punches at Coco Crisp, then of the Boston Red Sox. Crisp is now his Oakland teammate, as well as his potential neighbor in the outfield.
Gomes certainly adds some energy as well as local excitement to a rather unrecognizable team. His .242 career batting average isn't the asset he is focusing, rather his World Series experience with Tampa Bay, as well as his overall veteran leadership.
Oh, and about 100 or so tickets for his friends and family. At least there will be that many people watching the A's this season.
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