The A’s choose the first game date on the spring training schedule to make a small announcement: Going forward, the new domain of the team is Athletics.com. That comes after 17 years with the domain oaklandathletics.com. The shorter name is more direct and easier to type. The old domain will continue to work, in that it and the new one will resolve to the true corporate MLB team site, oakland.athletics.mlb.com. Other alternate sobriquets like oaklandas.com should also continue to work.
It’s been a long time since 1996-97, when the A’s were one of the first teams to have an official website. This was well before newer web technologies like Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) became popular, and it shows. MLB (and MLB Advanced Media) have made sure that all team websites look and function with similar design and navigation, while letting logos and team colors create each team’s individual style.
Not long after the announcement, a handful of the usual grousers complained that this was yet another directive to ditch Oakland, or that it foreshadowed a move announcement. I’ve confirmed with the A’s marketing department that they, not ownership, pushed for the change to make it shorter and easier for customers to work with. They’ve been holding onto the domain for the better part of two years, and have only chosen the start of spring training to use it. No announcement about a move is forthcoming anytime soon, anyone who has been following the stadium situation recently should know that.
Athletics.com works, most importantly because it aligns with the team’s Twitter handle, @Athletics. If a team is going to unify its branding, that’s a good place to start. It also helps the brand in a sort of meta way because the word athletics is a fairly generic term, whether you’re talking about the thousands of college athletics departments throughout the country or the word being synonymous with what call Americans call track and field Now the A’s automatically rise to the top of any search for athletics.
So there you have it. Athletics. Oakland. Athletics. 26 out of 30 teams have proper team domains. The remaining four are the Rays, Rangers, Twins, and… the San Francisco Baseball Giants. Giants.com points to some football team. Maybe that’s why the SF Giants are so constantly litigious about their domain – they can’t do anything about a domain name.
P.S. – The A’s also announced that living, playing internet meme Eric Sogard will have his own night on Friday, April 4, during the A’s first homestand. The theme is, naturally, #NerdPower Night. Sogard, the scrappy utility man with the bespectacled visage, is in the semifinals right now of MLB.com’s #FaceOfMLB contest against Blue Jay slugger Joey Bautista. Fans can vote by tweeting the terms #FaceOfMLB and #EricSogard. MLB.com will pick them up and tally them, up to 25 per handle. Voting is tight, as a large contingent of Blue Jays fans have shrunk the once-huge Sogard lead significantly.