I talked with a reporter from ESPN: The Magazine yesterday regarding their upcoming issue with the ultimate fan ratings. He had some questions about the A's fans view of the franchise, ownership and the players.
But one of the things he brought really surprised me. He mentioned that there is a real dislike for the A's ownership. I was kind of surprised by this and asked, "The current ownership or is that still lingering from the Schott/Hofmann era?" He said it often takes a little while for the survey to reflect that kind of a change.
It got me to thinking and I basically told him that I thought that people might dislike Wolff and the current regime because of the proposed move to Fremont. But I also told him that I felt like at least Wolff is getting something done in getting a new stadium, even if it is 20 or so miles away. I mean I don't blame the people who have grown up with the Oakland A's to be angry about the move. Ultimately though, I felt like most A's fans liked Wolff and his ownership group.
Now knowing my desire to be right on these things, I wanted to open it up to discussion. I view Wolff and Fisher's group as nothing but good for the franchise. Wolff has worked tirelessly to put together a new stadium deal. He has raised payroll since he came in. But the thing that I like about Wolff more than the previous regime is that he's an active fan. Wolff sits right behind the A's dugout (even in sweltering heat in August and September) and cheers on his team. He's visible and it's obvious that he cares deeply about the fortunes of his team. And while many of you have said that you don't trust him, I've spoken to him over the phone and he's been honest and forthcoming with me every time. I've met him a couple of times now and I get a good feeling from him. Yeah, he's a businessman and wants to make money, but he also is passionate about baseball and his team. From the discussions I've had with Billy Beane, Wolff is involved all the time, sometimes sending him emails at 3 in the morning. I don't know about you, but I'm not sending emails at 3 in the morning unless I'm REALLY passionate about something.
I know that A's fans have an all-time saint to compare all other owners to when thinking back to the Haas regime, but I just don't believe that you'll see too many philanthropic ownership groups any more. The best you're going to do in this day and age is someone like Mark Cuban who very obviously cares about his franchise and fans and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the team successful.
So I open it up to you, AN, to let me know how you really feel about A's ownership. Are they the huge improvement over the Schott regime that I believe they are? Or are they something else entirely and you hold out hopes for a return of the golden days of Walter Haas?