The A’s as a value stock

In investing, it’s all about expectations. What matters is not the brilliance of a company’s business model or the competence of its management — it’s about how your expectations of its future prospects stack up against those of the market as a whole.

Sports fandom is a little bit like that. This realization originally came to me when I attended my first Alabama football game, in 1989. (Thanks for the ticket, Dr. Leitner!) I’d grown up going to Cal football games, where the baseline expectation was defeat and even glorious victories contained their share of interceptions and ridiculous penalties. My first game in Tuscaloosa was against some lesser opponent or other (Ole Miss, perhaps?), and the sour, sure-hope-the-Tide-don’t-screw-up mood in the stadium shocked me. Hardly anybody, except the drunk students, seemed to be having any fun.

As martiniSo anyway, game three of the American League Championship Series is about to start, with my Athletics down 2-0. The special A’s martini at right (with olives and a twist) was made to celebrate the glorious three-game victory over the Twins in the division. Now things aren’t looking so good, but the tone on Athletics Nation remains mostly positive. In fact, most of the fans posting there seem to relish the fact that their team has dug itself into underdog status. If they come back, it’ll show those no-good Yankee fans on ESPN and Fox! And if they don’t, well, they will have still done pretty well for a team nobody gave much of a shot to even get past the Twins.

The A’s, then, are a value stock. Or maybe they’re a GARP (growth at a reasonable price) stock. After all, it’s not much fun to support a team that’s never been anything but bad–the Devil Rays, for example. But neither does it seem to be a lot of fun to be a Yankees or Chelsea fan these days. It might be okay if you acquired your fandom during some long-forgotten streak of losing seasons. But that’s not when most people adopt teams. Which is true in investing as well.

UPDATE: After all that brave talk, it was still pretty unpleasant to watch them lose 3-0 tonight. I even switched over to Daisy Cooks! for a couple of innings.

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