Wolff reiterated that he wouldn't keep the A's in Oakland if the Fremont plan collapses. Asked if that means the team would leave the Bay Area, he said, "I think we would have to leave the Bay Area, but I want to make sure you know I have not spent any time threatening that. I hate that. It's not the way we operate. The Fisher family (the majority owner) and myself, we want to stay here."
Wolff was reminded that Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs are earning record profits and that Commissioner Bud Selig long ago stopped threatening to fold teams, and by playing at the Coliseum, the A's are assured of generous revenue-sharing checks every year.
"The league wants to have baseball-specific venues," said Wolff, no fan of co-existing with the Raiders. "I don't know how we can get to where we want to be when, for example, they drag the stands onto the field in August, when we're trying to make a push for the playoffs."
This is not, in itself, cause for any alarm. Although we’d certainly expect to hear more about the Freemont plan if everything was merrily clicking away, the team is still in Oakland until they aren’t. And that’s the reality we have to deal with; we have the Oakland A’s of ’08 to cheer for, and relying too much on the ‘what ifs’ of the future will take some luster off the present.
But it’s my deepest fear--deeper than the Giants winning it all, or the A’s moving to a small stadium in Freemont, or the A’s rebuilding for a couple of years, or my favorite players leaving the team--the fear that the A’s just wouldn’t be the A’s if they moved out of the area. It may not be professional or politically correct, but there it is: I love things the way they are--decrepit stadium, cheap tickets, good seats, small-market team and all.
Not that I wouldn’t welcome more money to sign more talent, or a fancy new place to showcase them, but not at the expense of actually losing the A’s. I want it both ways; yet know this isn’t possible.
I think of A’s fans from different generations and locations--A’s fans from Philadelphia or Kansas City--and how they must have felt at the news of the impending moves. In an era where it was local coverage or nothing, could you effectively follow a sports franchise across the country? Would you simply mourn the loss and choose a local team to root for; one that you would have a chance to see in person and follow with radio/TV?
And in today’s age, should things be different? With the invention of lifesavers like XM radio, MLB.TV, Extra Innings packages, and the internet, it is possible to follow a team of your choosing from almost any geographical region. The quality sacrificed by a team’s move will directly correspond to how many games you attend in person. And for a non-resident A’s fan like myself, I think I’d be thrilled if the A’s came closer to me. Boot the Angels up to Portland and move the A’s to Los Angeles? Done and done.
But what if the move takes the team to another state; or worse; cross-country? Are we locked into the Bay Area or even California as the only locations for the A’s, or might we welcome a move? How much would you trade for a new stadium? A higher payroll to work with? What is your deepest fear in regards to the A’s moving?
Am I the only one who stays awake at night pondering all this?