Now you were there last night
And oh were you afraid
Of things we'd come upon
While playing future games
But baby it's alright and so have faith
You invent the future that you want to face
Let's get the obvious out of the way: it doesn't take very many powers of clairvoyance -- or the ability to contact Edgar Cayce in the Great Beyond -- to surmise that this team is, within weeks, going to receive permission to move to San Jose. There just is no conceivable way a legendary cards-meet-chest guy like Billy Beane goes around intimating to mass media that they (ownership) have the answer from MLB that they have been seeking unless, well, they have the answer from MLB that they have been seeking. The exceptionally talented Susan "slusser" Slusser always says that BB is exceptional among GMs for his forthrightness -- and I don't always agree, especially when it comes to letting information about players' injuries out -- but in this case I think she's right. The talking point we heard for the last (nearly) three years, whether from Beane or Wolff -- "we'll know when you know" and "it's in the hands of the committee" and "we want to move but we're letting the process take its due course" -- was really a scripted response that they never deviated from in terms of its basic wording, so for one of them to suddenly (in the absence of an official announcement) break with that tradition and offer a much more coy and buzz-generating reply means they have their answer, and it is the answer they have sought and hoped for along with the rest of the 408 area code. If you see it as I have come to see it, a whole lot of the 510 area code probably feels the same way, given that there just seems to be no competitive future in hosting a franchise in a city that just doesn't seem to want to host one, especially where the alternative features a whole lotta prospective corporate sponsorships, season ticket holders and luxury box buyers holding a whole lotta cash from one of the most lucrative industries on this planet, and which is itself arguably the global base of that industry's operations.
Let me be very clear: Jean Quan lied to my face, and I'd suspect I was not the only one. The day before she was elected Mayor of Oakland, she canvassed me personally at the West Oakland BART for my vote. I grilled her on the topic of doing what it would take to keep the A's in The Town and she seemed to have all the numbers in her head and all the facts-n-figures about the Victory Court site all lined up, so I voted for her the next day. Honestly, I thought she had no chance against one of the most corrupt and powerful politicians in the Bay Area, Don "Don" Perata. It was only the tiered voting system that got her elected in a huge upset. Nearly two years and one still-uncompleted Environmental Impact Report later, I am singing the same old Stevie Wonder song: If Mayor Quan really wants to hear my views, she hasn't done nuthin'. AKA Jack shit. Memo to the Mayor of a city about to lose one of its most prized possessions, with the Raiders and Warriors soon to follow: if you want something, you fight for it. You proactively pursue it like you're Malcolm fucking X: By Any Means Necessary. You don't equivocate, for he -- or she -- who hesitates is lost. You take your case to the people and create amongst them the political will to be able to see what will be lost if it goes and what will be gained if it can be convinced to stay. That is what people pulled that little lever for you to implement and it's called leadership. You don't, for instance, disappear and play bullshit scheduling games when the owner of one your most prized possessions comes calling to talk things over, after years of silence towards your city and diffident dismissal towards your alleged cause. You don't deflect calls -- multiple times -- to your office from prominent Bay Area sports media personalities like Chris Townsend when they offer you a forum to discuss your plans for one of your most prized possessions, or the opportunity to do so on the airwaves opposite the Mayor of the other city vying for one of your most prized possessions. A man who, for his part, always sounds like he would literally crawl buck naked over freshly shattered glass coated with anti-coagulant rat poison to have one of your most prized possessions. In short, you make it seem like something of a priority, or at least attempt the illusion of such. Seriously.
Now, I'm not trying to be a sports-obsessed, bread-and-circus-starved single-issue voter here: I get that the city of Oakland and its Mayor have a few other pressing things going on. Although the city -- recently named one of 20 American cities bucking the downtrend amongst urban locales -- is showing some definite signs of turning something of a corner, the murder rate is still through the roof and the vibe around that reality is starting to make Detroit look like Beverly Hills. The economic devastation caused by the outright looting of the U.S. economy by amoral banking and stockbroker forces who are treated as above the law in every meaningful way has made it tougher than tough everywhere. Even San Jose had one of 2010's highest rates of bankruptcy declaration. That's correct, folks: things are tough all over and I hate to tell you all but at this stage of the Corporate Communist cancer we're going to need radical and invasive surgery. Possibly if not probably in the form of a Revolution that is equal parts 1968 and 1792, with a little Year 3000 thrown in for good measure, to save the patient -- which is 235 years old and looking a bit long in the decaying tooth, having been victimized by way too much sugarcoating -- from itself. But be all that as it may, do you see San Jose equivocating? Do you see San Jose making excuses? Do you see San Jose sleeping on purchasing the parcels, on completing an EIR, on getting adequate parking facilities together, on making it clear that they want this team and know what it's worth and will do whatever it takes to get it? No, they understand that "By Any Means Necessary" thing pretty well, don't they, Ms. Quan? Ms. Quan???? Are you there????? Just an answering service, oh well. Not the first time, nor shall it be the last, that a politician was willing to say anything the person standing in front of 'em wanted to hear to acquire power, only to treat that person or those people like invisible dogs once they got the power they so brazenly craved. Can't say I'm shocked by that.
I want to take a paragraph here to make it clear to Mayor Quan -- and all the other Ignacio De La Fuentes and Don Peratas and Oakland officials past and present who didn't make this a priority, or who in some cases had their mouths so full of Al Davis that they actively let relations between the A's and the city deteriorate to the point we are at today -- I want to make it clear to them what they are losing, lest the limos they ride in and the fine restaurants they eat at and the beautiful mansions they live in distract them from the truth. What they are losing is an utmost jewel of American sports. What they are losing is one of the prime forces of innovation in the arena of all worldwide sports in our lifetimes, and before. What they are losing is the heroic and irreproducible subject of this week's #2 film at the box office in this ENTIRE COUNTRY. What they are losing is something that almost cannot be measured: something that -- with a reliable resource stream and some focused rebranding efforts -- they could have helped turn into a global brand on a par in the global sports consciousness with the New York Yankees. The Dallas Cowboys. The Manchester Uniteds of this world. Something they could have turned into a vital component of the engine for the Oakland Renaissance they claim to seek -- and an emergent national and global bulwark against the disgusting stereotypes their city has suffered under for as long as anyone can remember. A shining, glittering, historic, influential and exceptional product to represent Oakland for longer than anyone reading this -- or their grandkids -- would be alive. And they did nothing. Don't listen to their pathetic and shiftless excuses and their constant blaming of Lew Wolff and make no mistake. They. Did. Nothing. And the city of Oakland will suffer for their failure to act in ways that cannot be imagined, their crude and ignorant denials of that reality not whatsoever withstanding.
I hope Chuck Reed and the good people of San Jose are listening. I hope they understand what they are about to receive. I hope they take this thing with the kind of long-term seriousness it requires and have plans for all contingencies: for what happens when the novelty wears off as it inevitably will and the thing has to stand on its own, independent of being the "new thing in town" on which everybody at the outset gets hyped. I hope they can make it a roaring, raging, swingin' success that blows away even the reverence -- very much deserved -- garnered in these last 20 years by their marvelous NHL franchise, the Sharks. I hope they can have the caliber of success with the Athletics storied and sacred franchise that surpasses even the lofty heights -- and multiple championship trophies -- achieved in the last 40+ years in Oakland and prior to that in Philadelphia, PA. I hope that they can retain at least some of the flavor and history associated with the franchise, especially from its days in the Coliseum, because baseball's greatest asset is its century-and-a-half of times-gone-by and all that those times have meant to all the people they have meant them to. Most of all, I hope with all my heart that someday they can see it become what it deserves to be and that they'll be able to say that on that day, the A's are The Greatest of All Time.
So that brings us to the end of another season and to the end of my time on the front page of Athletics Nation. I will be around a bit next season as a substitute to fill in with polemics, poetry, pictures and prose when occasionally needed, but it's time for me to put this aside for the most part and get serious about the financial hole my life has fallen into, lest I end up sleeping in the Coliseum BART station. I want to thank Blez, all the other front page writers past and present, and of course Nico for asking me to do this 2+ years ago and for fighting my skepticism about exactly what a homosexual, often militantly-opinionated non-sportswriter such as I could possibly contribute to an extraordinary place such as this. Most of all, I want to thank all of you, the readers of this, perhaps the most influential and widely-read of all the sports blogs out there and the flagship for the SB Nation network that has seen such an amazing and unprecedented growth in recent times. In the last couple of years this whole thing has blossomed into something I'm not sure anyone could have imagined and I am proud to have, in some infinitesimally small way, contributed to that arc of ascent. May its very best days lay ahead of it, and may all of us honor it always and the one-of-a-kind franchise that it covers. Amen.
Fame and fortune is a magnet.
It can pull you far away from home
With a dream in your heart you're never alone.
Dreams turn into dust and blow away
And there you are without a friend
You pack your car and ride away