Dallas Braden Jenny Cavnar Screengrab: NBC Sports California

Dallas Braden has kept his cards pretty close to the vest regarding the Oakland Athletics and their transgressions over the past six months. While the A’s announcer may be privy to some of the rumblings, that doesn’t put him in the rooms where the decisions are made.

And while that’s Braden’s default answer, he could appreciate that people think he’s more important to this process than he really is. But that’s not going to change his perspective. At the same time, he has a unique vantage point of being born and raised in the baseball atmosphere surrounding Oakland. He’s been an A’s fan his entire life, so calling their games isn’t just a job – it’s a personal connection that’s not so much been severed but tested by the team’s impending departure.

Once boasting four World Series wins and pioneering Moneyball, Oakland faces a heartbreaking goodbye to the A’s, with fans urged to boycott ownership in their final season. And Braden finds himself in an intricate dance as he grapples with his loyalty to the fans and his professional obligations as the team prepares to leave Oakland.

Capping their Oakland tenure with a lame-duck season, the A’s will relocate to Sacramento for an interim period before moving to their permanent Las Vegas digs.

Braden was asked to comment on those headlines during the most recent episode of Underdog’s Baseball is Dead podcast.

“I’m just a broadcaster. I’m just a dude from the area who might have an ear to the street, but at the end of the day, that’s all I am. I’m nobody that is influencing a decision. I’m nobody that can influence a decision. I’m not an innocent bystander, per se; I’m a part of this machine. I’m a part of how this is going right now. I don’t have an impact; wish I could. I don’t have answers that I wish I could give people to help clarify the situation. I’m just not in that position.

“So, when I hear stuff like this, my mentality always has to be the same. I know what my responsibility is. I know what my job is. And that’s to call baseball games.

“And if I’m the person you’re looking for, for these answers and I can’t give them to you, and I’m the one you want to get mad at for that? You know what? Fire your arrows. It’s all good. I understand what it’s like to have misguided hate and misguided anger. I had a lot of me with that when I was a little fella, and I figured out life gets a little easier when you figure out how to channel that energy.”

Braden expresses a deep understanding of the pain A’s fans are experiencing.

“It is undoubtedly the toughest era, I think, in our franchise’s history,” he said. “All I ever want to do is be able to communicate and give some sort of hope to our fans, whether that’s knowing where we’re gonna play for the next 100 years or that’s us kind of in our situation right now where we’re not really sure what’s going on.

“But I think you can understand that any time a sports franchise or company starts to go through something like this, that people that are in its orbit are gonna feel a certain way about it. And that’s why I think you continue to hear what we hear and continue to see the focus on this, is because it’s a big deal, and that ball is starting to roll, I think, a little quicker now, and folks are realizing that.”

A lifelong fixture in California baseball, shares a personal story that lays bare the emotional weight of the team’s departure. Braden, who grew up playing and living throughout the Sacramento-Stockton-Oakland corridor, reveals:

“I understand it’s a big deal, and maybe I’m just trying to avoid facing this, but I grew up, and I had the craziest ride through professional baseball. I grew up in Stockton, California, 40 minutes from Sacramento. I went to junior college in Sacramento. I played A-ball in Stockton, my hometown.

“I played Double-A, an hour away from where I went to the University of Texas Tech. I played Triple-A in Sacramento where I lived when I went to junior college. And then I went to the big leagues in Oakland, 45 minutes away from Stockton and Sacramento.

“I have legitimately lived at home and played baseball in this region my entire ******* life. From the time I was a child pissing on myself to the time I was an adult, still truing not to to piss on myself. I’ve played the entire time there. This region and this baseball is all I know.”

“I understand all of the mixed emotions, every bit of it. That’s what I try to convey to people is I was the kid who grew up a fan of baseball in this area. And then I was the kid, who became lucky enough to play for these teams in this area.

“And then, I was the player who got lucky enough to become the broadcaster for this team. So, when you ask where my heart is and when you ask how I feel about this, I’m not angry that it might need some explanation for some folks. I just ask that once I explain to you, to not just take it at face value and move on but think about what that may feel like for somebody who isn’t just kind of dropping in on this…Baseball in this region and its fans are what has raised and what has made me.”

Being a former A’s player and current broadcaster, Braden finds himself in a unique situation. Fans readily approach him, yearning for insights into the team’s future. However, his current role restricts him from divulging the kind of information they crave. This creates a double-edged sword. He attended the Reverse Boycott tailgate, showcasing his strong bond with the fans. He shares their frustration because he, too, is a die-hard A’s supporter. Caught between his loyalty to the fans and the limitations of his job, Braden navigates a challenging position.

“For the fans, who are going to endure what is coming and are trying to figure out a way to make sense of it all, if you’re the fan who is completely done, throws their hands up…I need you to know that I understand and I need you to know that I feel every ounce of your pain. I promise I do; I promise I do.

“And if you’re also the fan, who says, you know what, all that be damned, I’m not going to let the last opportunity to enjoy this place and the memories that it’s given me, I’m not gonna let that slip by. I understand, and I appreciate where you are coming from. And I know where you are coming from.

“And when those two fans find themselves next to reach other at a ball game in some point in time, I want them both to remember and I want them to both look around and just think to themselves that somebody in this ballpark right now could very well be taking in baseball in this place for the first time.

“And yeah, it may very well be their last time as well, but can you remember what your first time was like? There’s a good chance that, that memory is what you got you to come back…So, remember that when you’re voicing your displeasure and you’re sharing your emotion — justifiably so and understandably so — remember that growing the game is ultimately what we’re here to do. And just take stock of where you’re at before you fire those arrows. And make sure that the folks around you is something that you’re thinking of.”

[Baseball is Dead]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.