I was sent this provocative piece written by Monte Poole in Tuesday's news feed and I thought I'd bring it up for discussion. I should add the disclaimer that since I am neither a resident of Oakland nor the Bay Area, the decision isn't as personal to me as I know it is to many of you. In fact; my dream scenario would be for the A's and the Angels (or Dodgers) to switch ballparks so I could be an A's season ticket holder in Southern California and spend all of my nights at the ballpark like many of you. (Before you send angry emails, of course this is tongue-in-cheek--I think the large Los Angeles market would take away the heart-and-soul reasons of why many of us like the A's in the first place. Besides, where would I road-trip?)
Now normally, I'm not big on conspiracy theories unless they involve the plot of Major League, but Poole offers us a good one:
Steve Schott whispered it during his decade as managing partner of the A's, with MLB commissioner Bud Selig nodding in agreement and eventually echoing the sentiment.
Schott's successor, the disarming yet shrewd Lew Wolff, has spent the past five years shouting it, while his pal the commissioner attempts the impossible task of concealing what sounds and looks and smells like a conspiracy.
Somewhere along the way, as San Jose was becoming paradise and Fremont the geographically suitable alternative, after the Raiders returned these folks determined Oakland is an unfit parent for its baseball team.
Not enough corporate money, Wolff moans. Nowhere to build a new ballpark, he gripes. No point in trying to be successful in Oakland, he groans. Oakland is, Wolff sighed a year ago, a colossal waste of time.
How can we expect his man Bud to conclude otherwise?
The fate of the A's-Oakland relationship sits in the hands of the commissioner, who in the coming days is expected to rule whether Oakland deserves to keep the A's.
Oakland can only consider that a warning.
Poole all but accuses Wolff of doing everything he can to get the A's out of Oakland, and openly suggests that his personal connection to Selig (the two were fraternity brothers at the University of Wisconsin) should accomplish this goal.
Almost a year has passed since Selig determined to look into the A's ballpark situation, and it's anyone's guess what that conclusion might be.
Poole pulls no punches in this article, claiming that Selig has already laid the groundwork for his decision with this history:
He is the commish who in 1999 oversaw a vote against grocery executive Bob Piccinini, who had assembled a group and made an offer to buy the A's while stating his intention to rebuild the Walter Haas model of bonding the team with the community.
Selig is the man who showed up in Oakland in 2004 squawking about the A's inability to compete in the Coliseum, dismissing such inconvenient truths as the team's four consecutive playoff trips and its 392 wins during those seasons — the winningest four-year stretch in team history.
He is the man who, with Schott and partner Ken Hofmann ready to sell, reached out to Wolff and brokered the deal for him to buy in.
So, then, the decision rests with a man who has been Wolff's good friend for more than 50 years. In the business of sports, like the business of anything else, nothing short of corporate blackmail opens doors like having the hook-up.
And Lew has the hook-up. As skillful as Bud is at deflecting accountability, even he can't create a tale credible enough to suggest otherwise.
Strong words. What do you think? Has Oakland been given a fair shake in all of this? How would you solve the problem? How bad would it really be for the A's to end up in, say, San Jose? And if the deck really is stacked against the city, will Oakland be able to keep the A's?
Side note: This is not a thread to bash the cities of Oakland OR San Jose or people who love living in their respective cities. It's a passionate topic, especially to local fans, but I want to hear answers related directly to how baseball (specifically the A's) fits into each city and if Poole's charges have any merit. Or you can talk about sock puppets, the Olympics, the male figure skating outfits, how dreamy you find Evan Lysacek, how no one managed to dislocate a knee in the women's event Wednesday night, Lost theories, your favorite baseball player, or your favorite picture of Eric Chavez.