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Elephant Rumblings: California wildfires, Prop 16 affirmative action, and AL West shakeups

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MLB news roundup

Arizona Diamondbacks v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

We had a slow news day on Tuesday, but the cycle returned to its normal mile-a-minute by Wednesday.

First up is the California wildfires. This has become an annual story — of course there’s always been a fire season every year, but for the last few years it’s worsened to a point where the whole state’s air is affected for days or weeks at a time and everything gets covered in thick layers of ash from the atmosphere above. I can smell significant smoke as I write this in Walnut Creek. (Correction: Erroneous link removed, I am within 100 miles of a fire, but even that in itself is unusual.)

The fires relate to baseball right now because they could have potentially caused the cancellation of Wednesday’s games at the Coliseum and Oracle Park, due to air quality and health concerns, reported Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. The games ended up being played, but the fires aren’t over and personally I can smell more smoke than I could yesterday (and I live 20 miles from the Coliseum).

California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted the following midday Wednesday: “CA has experienced 10,849 lightning strikes in the last 72 hours and WORLD RECORD heat temperatures. We’re currently battling 367 known fires.”

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In other news, the A’s and Giants are among seven pro sports teams offering vocal public support for Proposition 16, a California ballot proposition that would bring back affirmative action, reports Phil Matier of the S.F. Chronicle and John Hickey of Sports Illustrated. Prop 16 would repeal the previous Prop 209, which two decades ago outlawed the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment and other areas.

“We unequivocally support Prop 16 because we believe in equal opportunity for all Californians. This is our collective moment to take purposeful action to build a stronger California for the future,” said A’s president Dave Kaval, via Hickey.

The Giants, 49ers, Warriors, Sharks, Earthquakes, and the Oakland Roots SC have also endorsed Prop 16.

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Finally, regarding baseball on the field, every team in the AL West made headlines on Wednesday. Here’s a quick roundup:

  • A’s: Recalled RHP Paul Blackburn, optioned RHP James Kaprielian
  • Angels: Moved RHP Julio Teheran from rotation to bullpen (after 3 starts)
  • Astros: DH Yordan Alvarez out for year after knee surgery (only played 2 games)
  • Mariners: DFA’d slugging DH Daniel Vogelbach, who was an All-Star in 2019; also made a minor trade for a pitcher
  • Rangers: Manager Chris Woodward and RHP Ian GIbaut suspended for throwing behind Manny Machado, after that Fernando Tatis grand slam hullabaloo

For more details, sources, and further commentary on these developments, scroll down through the rest of this post (especially the Twitter section).

A’s Coverage

MLB News & Interest

Yesterday’s Game Highlights

Wednesday: Win! Best start yet by Luzardo

Best of Twitter

Everyone* (outside of Oakland)

And don’t forget about Luzardo’s battery-mate

The national media is starting to notice

Alvarez returned to action, played two games, and went out again

Vogelbach was an All-Star last summer

The Angels are 8-17 and their pitching staff has turned back into the pumpkin it always was

... For example: This year’s underwhelming free agent rotation addition (underwhelming relative to the $300M they spent this winter) made it all of three starts before losing his job. A new Angels record?