Oakland Athletics fans are understandably angry after their team locked in plans to move to Las Vegas last week, and it looks like something was done to hide that fact during a game Friday.
During the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds, A’s first baseman Ryan Noda hit a home run to right field. The ball landed near a collection of signs hung in front of the outfield stands with messages criticizing the team’s move, A’s president Dave Kaval and team owner John Fisher, such as “KAVAL=LIAR,” “SELL” and “FISHER OUT.”
The signs were very visible on the NBC Sports California broadcast, but a funny thing happened to the video before it reached the MLB.com site where all official highlights land. The shot of the ball landing was seemingly cropped to remove the signs, as an A’s fan group noted Saturday on Twitter:
MLB taking a Totalitarian state approach to removing criticism of owners is very ‘on-brand’ of them.
Remember fans: when your owner threatens to take your team away and tears down the roster whilst raising ticket prices, you’re supposed to just sit quietly and say thank you … pic.twitter.com/Qdgy7pfueP
— UK Oakland Athletics 🌳🐘⚾️🇬🇧 (@OaklandAUK) April 29, 2023
You can see the same edit made to the highlight syndicated by MLB to Yahoo above. The A’s lost the game 11-7 and fell to 5-22 on the season, the worst record in MLB.
Many accused MLB of censoring the video to protect Fisher and its interest in the A’s, but the league denied any knowledge of the edit in a comment to The Athletic:
“We were unaware of the edit,” an MLB spokesperson told The Athletic. “When it came to our attention, we corrected it, as it isn’t consistent with our policy.”
As the spokesperson said, the MLB.com video of the Noda home run features the signs as of Saturday afternoon.
It’s worth noting that the A’s have little immediate control over MLB’s video highlights operation, as that is controlled by MLB Advanced Media, a company basically co-owned by all 30 teams and whose leadership reports to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
This episode is the latest in an ugly saga for the A’s that could get even uglier as the organization proceeds with its move.
Disclosure: This author previously worked for MLBAM.