I went to hear Mykal Urban today at Diesel Books on this beautiful Sunday Memorial day weekend afternoon after another listless A's loss to Cleveland. There was a small group of neighborhood A's fans there to discuss Aces and the status of A's baseball present and recent past. Mykal shared many good insights and locker room stories not in the book e.g.: Howe and Macha viz a viz Beane.
One thread of the discussion was Beane's preference for cool headed (i.e. dull) players and managers (e.g. Chavez, Howe and Macha) versus passionate head cases like Tejada and Byrnes and natural born leader types (e.g. Hudson). The group concensus was that Beane doesn't understand passion/leadership or the human side of players and instead practices the MBA approach to the game. The recent result appears to be the missing "chemistry" and listless performances we are seeing this season. One can only remove so many "hearts" from a team before killing it. In previous seasons Okland may have failed spectacularly to reach the next round of playoffs but there was enough heart all season long to sustain the A's fan after often bitter losses in the 5th game.
Also - Beane's obsession with dull, even tempered manager(s) and yes men has really killed the teams both in the playoffs and in the spectacular collapse towards the finish line in Fall 2004 - Tell me you did not want to have Macha strangled/fired when he brought in Mecir on October 2nd, 2004 after Zito's brilliant performance that afternoon. Beane will certainly put the quibosh on dumping "Kenny" this year beofe the season is over. He would never be in facor of installing Ron Washington as manager. Washington I think could save this season and turn around the team with a 500 average by September -But this is way too gutsy a move for Billy. The players love Wash way too much and he is way too outspoken. Also, Wash actually has a handle on the fundamentals of small ball that would be against the grain of the team's now losing philosophy. But think about it - Wash as manager wouldn't cost the team much and it would keep yet another fan and player fav from taking off to manage somewhere else next year. Never will happen according to Urban.
We also discussed the future relocation of the team. I was amused to read last week that Mr. Wolff threw out the (terrible) idea of building a new stadium next to the Raider Bowl on the parking lot. Funny how a PG&E high voltage line under the site suddenly appeared/became an issue - I guess the consultants and HOK missed that one over two years ago when the A's started looking at alternative venues.
I am not surprised - if I was Wolff about to embark on pulling together 250 to 350 million bucks of other people's money to build a showcase venue, a location next to a polluted culvert and colloid plant is the last place I would consider.
With Jane Bruner and the other dimwits on the Oakland City Council too slow and predisposed against the siting of a downtown ball park (you don't know what you got till its gone) to understand the difference between baseball (81 nights a year) versus a bad football deal to take advantage of the guaranteed positive impacts from redeveloping the Fox Theater site in downtown Oakland to spur development in that area - I guess I am not surprised if the A's leave town for Vegas by 2008.
Jerry Brown is not the problem - he is a lame duck. Ignacio is too focused on Fruitvale - there is no way he would let that kind of economic development split the vicinity of his District. With the Raiders gone as soon as LA passes a bond for new footbal stadium (sorry raider's fans but the truth hurts) the future is as stubbornly and unwaveringly clear as George W.'s line in the proverbial sand.
I would love to suggest Mr. Wolff have a chat with Walter Shorenstein who has the sweet heart deal on the residential zoning near the Fox to bring the stadium to that neighborhood Shorenstein has the entitlements for the site, he is pr-labor and is loved by the City Council .... sounds like a match made in heaven - a classic realty synergy deal all win-win a la King Street in SF. i can see the statue of Vida Blue and catfish going up on Telegraph Avenue now....
But my sense is that Wolff is ready to swing a deal with Vegas money since Mr. Safeway (Barry's boss) and MLB will never let Wolff get a facilty near Santa Clara County.
For the record - I don't believe in the conspiracy theories (i.e. make the A's stink so bad they can get out of town easier) but I am very concerned that dull attendance due to poor on the field performance will spark an Athletics flight to the land where what happens there stays there. Imagine an indoor-outdoor Aircraft hangar style ballpark a la bank one in Phoenix with a jacuuzzi in center field stocked with show grrls - the thought makes Connie Mack and Walter Haas spin in their respective graves...... I guess the twice a year flights to Vegasto see them battle the Yankees will be cheaper than my current Spring Training trips....
BTW - Any one else notice how testy Robert B. has been lately on extra innings - even he is giving up on th season - I love the guy but being the Ari Fleisher to the Wolff/Beane machine is taking its toll.
cheers gang - Go A's