The 1899 Cleveland Spiders were in the single "big league" the National League of 12 teams. Their owners also owned another NL team, an arrangement called syndicate ownership. The owners traded all the good Spiders to themselves, and left the rotting carcass behind. After June or so, they played no home games because they made more from the visitors share of the gate than they could from the home share of the few dozen Clevelanders stupid enough to part with $.50 for a Spider's ticket. They weren't trying. And yet the A's may match them. The surprise here is that anyone in Oakland buys a seat. They aren't trying. Honestly, I don't see that the behavior of current ownership is much better than the 1919 Black Sox, who famously weren't trying, either. I suppose the modern fan knows that the A's aren't making an effort, while the Black Sox kept their behavior a mystery. Different. But not all that much better.