And yet, amid all of the disheartening confusion, the A's do have their loyal fans. Night after night they sit in their yellow jackets behind the team's third-base dugout, huddled there on cold evenings like survivors of some natural disaster. "Our motto," says one of the breed, Esther Winton of San Leandro, "is never mind Finley, support the players."
Most nights there is no roar of the crowd to muffle the loyalists' exhortations, so the players have come to recognize the members of this hardy band by sight and by sound. But when the Yankees and the Red Sox are in town, some of the usually vacant seats are filled by auslanders with old loyalties who root for the visitors. On these occasions home games are no different from away games for the A's, and a certain understandable disorientation sets in. A visitor's home run will be cheered louder than one by the home team. The situation became so acute last year that Pitcher Matt Keough found himself saying he wished "these people" would stay home and leave the park to the hard-core fans. But even the turncoats seem not so numerous this year, and an eerie solitude prevails at almost every game, regardless of the opposition. Still, Revering feels he will be able to recognize doomsday when it comes. "We'll really know we're in trouble," he says, "when people come in here to root for Seattle."