I’ve been doing this blog for most of the 2011 season and it has been a blast. But there is one major issue that I have yet to fully cover and that’s the Oakland A’s ballpark situation. There are two reasons I haven’t said much about this topic:
1) I have a biased opinion on it with very mixed feelings about any proposed new site and
2) there has been very little news to report since MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, created a committee to help the A’s find a new home more than two years ago.
So basically the A’s are stuck in limbo, unable to plan for the future both financially and from a personnel standpoint, until this committee decides their fate. It could be a while longer as we’ve heard nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch.
Again, I want to point out that I am emotionally invested in the outcome of this whole project. I grew up only five minutes from the Oakland Coliseum, now depressingly named O.Co Coliseum. I’ve been going to A’s games my whole life; I can’t even remember the first game I attended. To me, there always was and always would be Oakland A’s baseball.
But on to the facts…
THE SET UP: In 2005 the team was sold to a group headed by now part owner and Managing Partner, Lew Wolff. He promised what the A’s needed; a new home for the team and their fans that would create more revenue and a more competitive on-field performance.
The original site for what will be called Cisco Field was located in Fremont, forty minutes south of the Coliseum. At the time, I was young and naïve and thought that a move was both unnecessary and an insult to Oakland. Since then I’ve come to my senses.
Long story short: it turns out Fremont didn’t want the A’s after all and the deal fell through. All of Oakland took a collective sigh of relief and assumed the A’s would get a new site in the city they called home for over forty years.
Instead, Wolff and the A’s decided that San Jose would be the best fit. Though it irks me to the bone to suggest San Jose deserves MY Oakland A’s, it’s hard to deny that San Jose wouldn’t welcome a Major League team with open arms. Almost 1,000,000 people reside in San Jose making it the third most populated city in California (behind Los Angeles and San Diego) and the tenth largest in the US. That’s more than double the Oakland population, not to mention how well they support the San Jose Sharks. If they can support an NHL team with such loyalty, imagine how San Jose would react to an MLB team with a brand new state of the art ballpark as their Christmas present.
Now, here’s where it might get tricky so stay with me.
Two roadblocks stand between Lew Wolff and his San Jose Cisco Field. The first is he has been met with considerable resistance from the fans and from the City of Oakland who think (and I agree) that he isn’t investing in Oakland as he should. If you look at things objectively, you can’t really blame him, but we’ll get to all that later. The second, and more important issue is that the World Champion San Francisco Giants currently own the territorial rights to San Jose and won’t give them up without a fight.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: With regards to the resistance Lew Wolff has received from Oakland and its fans, I honestly think he could care less. I don’t mean to bash on the guy too much - as it’s clear his priorities differ from mine and rightly so. Like I said I have emotionally invested myself in this whole saga, but Wolff has invested himself monetarily, so naturally he views this ordeal as a business transaction. And he should.
Despite that, there have been instances where he could have handled things differently. Even if he knows the team is going to be moved, he doesn’t need to take every opportunity to point it out. Wolff has repeatedly said that he has exhausted all his efforts in Oakland and that he doesn’t believe there is a plausible resolution in this city. He also thinks that this city wouldn’t be able to support the franchise going forward (despite having done so for 40 years). Now, that very well may be true (what would I know about it?) the team currently resides in Oakland - so it would seem to me like he’d want to appease his current fan base as much as possible.
Wolff’s mistake is that he keeps pointing out Oakland’s inability and unwillingness to support the A’s while also complaining about the poor attendance and the lack of loyalty from the fans. HELLO?! You can’t keep saying you’re looking for the first ticket out of Dodge and expect your current fans to blindly support you. He even replaced the fan appreciation day with a much smaller - and much lamer barbeque.
If my bias isn’t apparent yet, I’m not sure it will ever be but it certainly isn’t the whole story. Over at newballpark.org they are doing some great work to keep the East Bay community informed on the A’s situation. Truth be told, there isn’t much to report but they’re doing an incredible job telling both sides of the story. Currently there is an awesome interview with Lew Wolff conducted by Marine Layer. It offers a lot of insight about where Wolff is coming from and it certainly sounds like a complex process. It opened my eyes at least for a little bit, so I highly suggest you check it out.
But this is my blog so we’ll be discussing my opinions.
TURF WARS: The other major deterrent is the Giants. In every other dual- team market (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, DC-Baltimore Beltway as a recent example) the territory for each team is divided up evenly. For example, if either of the Mets or the Yankees wanted to move to Manhattan (why would they?), they could. For the Bay Area Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants, there are strict territorial dividers. The Giants get all of the North Bay past Marin and the entire south bay down through Monterey County. The A’s get Contra Costa and Alameda counties – about half the area of the Giants.
The Giants refuse to give up the rights to San Jose, which I think would create a much better rivalry benefiting both teams. San Francisco seems to want to rid the Bay Area of the A’s entirely. If they succeed, of course, they would have a monopoly. Lew Wolff has acknowledged a move out of the Bay Area could be a possibility.
NO END IN SIGHT: This all takes us back to the committee Bud Selig appointed more than two years ago. It is a three-man committee currently trying to find the most viable option for the A’s new home. The process has taken FOREVER. It has taken so long that I honestly don’t really care where they decide to go forward as long as they decide to go forward. This waiting around for multiple seasons is getting to everyone.
My heart would love the team to stay in Oakland and win many more World Series titles in the town I grew up in. My head tells me that this team moved from Philadelphia and Kansas City before Oakland seeking greener pastures. San Jose with its greater population would provide the A’s with better revenue and hopefully more success. The A’s organization is unable to move forward until this paramount question is answered.
To the powers that be in MLB: Please make a decision soon. We’ve been waiting a long time and deserve closure.
MONEYBALL: I figured I’d touch on another “non-baseball” A’s topic while I’m at it. “Moneyball” won’t have nearly the impact its book counterpart had and its ideals are less important as most of baseball has caught up with Billy Beane. Most of the philosophies he used in the book are widely used now, and those that aren’t widely used, aren’t even used by Billy Beane anymore. So, in essence, the movie can’t possibly have as big an impact as the book.
Having said all that, the movie looks really entertaining and I can’t wait to see it. I know I’m going to love it because I’m a huge A’s fan. Not sure anyone else will though, or even if anyone else will understand why the A’s will get a movie made about them - as they didn’t even win anything.
Oh well, I’m still looking forward to it.
UP NEXT? It is September and the season is winding down. In this last month I will discuss the September call-ups, possible offseason acquisitions and other plans to shape the 2012 roster - and a final grades article. But if there is anything else you would like me to discuss please let me know and I’ll try to touch on everything before the year ends.
About the Author
Written by Josh Muller
My name is Josh Muller. I was born and raised in Oakland, California and currently live in San Francisco. I watch sports religiously and organize my calender year to coincide with baseball season. I'm a diehard A's and Warriors fan, love talking sports all day and believe that the words "Opening Day" are the two greatest in the English language.