Though John Fisher and Lew Wolff have owned the A's for more than six years, they needed only the first two to take what once was a good franchise with an engaged fan base and starve it into lethargic inertia.
Moreover, Fisher and Wolff have shown no inclination of tending to their team anytime soon.
They have become a wealthy guy (Wolff) and an obscenely wealthy guy (Fisher) who acquired a valuable property, neglected it outright and continue to reap profits. It's the slumlord model.
In that context, being swept over three games at home by the Yankees doesn't register -- nor does the 4-2 loss to New York on Wednesday, which closed out the series and is Oakland's 10th consecutive loss to the Yankees and 24th in 28 games.
Ask A's manager Bob Geren about the trend, and he shrugs it off as "mostly coincidence."
Ask his boss, general manager Billy Beane, and he insinuates it's a small part of a long season -- and not especially alarming when one team is vastly better funded, infinitely deeper and more advanced.
"What I saw," Beane summarized, "was us sweep three from Baltimore, then get swept by the Yankees in three games."
That's where the A's are as they enter June and the decisions to come with it. For the fourth season in five, they are jogging in heavy fog, except when stumbling backward. They have settled in and become Pirates West, without the gorgeous yard.
The heartbreaking thing for the fan
While the spirit of former Oakland owner Walter Haas looks on aghast, Wolff occasionally offers disingenuous rhetoric about the desire to win games. Fisher, despite an appreciably greater financial stake in the team, stays stone silent -- as if he is unaffiliated with the A's in every conceivable way.
We know they want a new ballpark and that the A's would greatly benefit from it. We know they want it accompanied by retail/residential development. We know they have a strong preference for San Jose, though that possibility is shrinking by the hour.
Meanwhile, though, there are games to play, almost every day.
And new ballpark or not, emotionally invested owners realize those games still matter because fans should matter. Even if they don't care, their business still represents them.
It isn't that Wolff and Fisher have to sweat out every minute, in the manner of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Or that they have to spend money as if the Rapture is upon us, as Daniel Snyder does for his NFL team in Washington.
But if Wolff or Fisher were to become more visible and offer sincere expressions of concern for baseball, along with a buck or two, it might pump fresh oxygen into a stale product.
Instead, they mostly peep from afar, treating the A's like poorly maintained income property. They want to vacate Oakland and, meanwhile, they have no intention to fix the place. Despite the occasional rumor, they resist the notion to sell -- so far.
So we have this constant flow of mostly forgettable players coming and going, except good old Mark Ellis, perhaps because he's modest and earnest and unsung, the good soldier -- with characteristics that perfectly project what the A's have become.
We have Geren, who seems decent enough. He isn't so much clueless as charmless and utterly sleep-inducing, perhaps by design.
We have Beane, who was so energetic and daring at the dawn of the millennium -- there was a time when his presence was presumed to ensure a competitive product -- but has lost his mojo or been ostracized by certain general managers or been financially minimized into irrelevance.
Billy now seems to be awaiting youngsters such as Michael Choice and Grant Green and Jemile Weeks, without identifying anyone as a "centerpiece" player.
All of which brings us back before the imported loafers of Wolff and Fisher, who according to Forbes magazine represent the fourth-richest ownership in baseball -- wealthier than the Los Angeles Angels' Arte Moreno or the Boston Red Sox's John Henry.
Not that you could discern such wherewithal from the Oakland payroll or lineup, both of which suggest the annual and very welcome revenue-sharing checks serve to line the wallets of the owners.
June means we're officially closing in on summer, when observations and evaluations dictate midseason decisions. The A's again, sadly, look more like sellers than buyers.
Given ownership's casual negligence, though, it's clear that whatever the team looks like isn't necessarily influential.
Monte Poole is an Oakland Tribune columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.