The A's are due for a fall, and in a refreshing change, Billy Beane isn't alone in the realization.

Every so often, ownership makes it clear that this "cash-strapped" label is a total fabrication. The A's are a "small-market" team only because they choose to be. Between baseball's revenue-sharing system and the financial empire of co-owner John Fisher, they have tons of money, enough to play hardball with the Yankees, Red Sox or anyone else.

Forbes has estimated Fisher's worth at $1.25 billion, and A's fans should know: This man has made a habit of holding back the franchise. Lew Wolff commits the tedious crime of disparaging the Coliseum and clinging to the prospect of playing in San Jose, now a lamentable pipe dream, but Fisher is the one who could turn this organization into a major financial player.

As opposed to Arte Moreno (Angels), Mark Walter (the Dodgers' controlling owner) or anyone else obsessed with winning, Fisher owns this team mostly for show. Perhaps it spruces up the conversation at cocktail parties. I know friends of the Haas family who have been absolutely furious with Fisher, an ownership magnate who could resurrect a fine tradition but simply isn't that interested.

The A's were a thriving, pulsating business when Walter Haas ran the show. Attendance peaked, the roster was filled with marquee players, and the overriding mood was one of generosity, a sense of community, full devotion to the product. Levi's was the family's calling card, but baseball was its passion. If a discouraging season unfolded, it couldn't be traced to apathy, wanderlust or a locked-down wallet.

Are the times changing? In a 24-hour period reminiscent of the lavish expenditure on Yoenis Céspedes, the A's spent $22 million on Scott Kazmir and acquired arbitration-eligible Jim Johnson, who is likely to end up making more than $10 million. The trade for reliever Luke Gregerson was a brilliant move. But that, along with the addition of Craig Gentry, allows Beane only to keep his team afloat, knowing he'll head into spring training without Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, Seth Smith, Michael Choice and perhaps Brett Anderson.

Personally, I'd love to see the A's win their division for the rest of time. "Money buys contention" is the biggest myth in baseball, delightfully proven incorrect every season at some level, and Beane twice has brought his team to the brink - two ill-timed confrontations with Detroit's Justin Verlander - of major national exposure.

At some point, though, the little guy has to stand down. There's a mountain of money in the A's division, and it's only a matter of time before the Angels and/or Rangers get it right. Seattle joined the party Friday with a ridiculous but splashy 10-year deal for Robinson Cano. The A's persevere, a little bit smarter than the rest, hoping their owners emerge more often from the annual thumb-twiddling competition.