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Unanswered Questions: There Is No “A” In “Limbo”

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I would write about the A’s off-season but how much is there to say? Oakland’s best trade chips have been shipped off already in moves ranging from promising to downright baffling.

And free agents are hardly champing at the bit to consider choosing, out of 30 teams, the one with no payroll, no hope of contention in 2024, and no idea where they will play in 2025.

So with the hot stove soon to kick off, and hopefully more to say soon about the on field team, let’s take stock of the off-field situation and the bizarre “READY.....FIRE....AIM!!!!” strategy MLB and the A’s seem to be taking.

MLB has agreed to let the A’s move to Las Vegas beginning in 2028 and the A’s have started packing their bags, and yet many questions remain unanswered that so clearly should be addressed before, not after, a commitment to excellenceodus.

Plan A?

Regarding an interim home for the nomAd’s in 2025-27, so far MLB’s most mentioned “plan” — a generous term for it — seems to be to pursue a hybrid of 30-40 games at Oracle and the rest in Summerlin (home of the Aviators and the 110-116 degree summers). Their plan B seems to be to consider staying at the Oakland Coliseum for those 3 years, and their plan C seems to be the “mystery city” occasionally referred to but never named.

Here’s the thing...You would hope the MLBPA would reject an idea as terrible for players as to split their home games between two venues, with the majority taking place in a 10,000 seat open air stadium in the desert. Whether it’s plan A or plan Z, this really shouldn’t pass muster with the player’s union.

If it won’t, then why hasn’t it been rejected preemptively so MLB knows it must pivot to a more palatable solution? More to the point, if it is going to be accepted, for whatever reason, then why hasn’t it been accepted yet? It seems odd for such a convoluted plan not to have been considered and either accepted or rejected before becoming seemingly a top consideration.

Plan B?

Then comes the supposed “fallback plan” where MLB might just stick with the Coliseum for a few more years. Mayor Sheng Thao has made it clear that the price for such a lease extension includes the guarantee of an expansion team and keeping the A’s brand with Oakland.

Manfred has replied that this is not an option, that if and when expansion occurs every city, including but not limited to Oakland, will be welcome to apply. As for the A’s brand, Manfred expects it will follow the team wherever it goes.

Which begs the question...if MLB does not intend to meet the mayor’s demands, then how is the Coliseum any sort of a backup plan? Is the idea that MLB doesn’t really want the Coliseum anyway, but if other plans fail Manfred can always come knocking on Thao’s door she will immediately acquiesce to the rich white man’s orders because he says she has to? Welcome to 2023, Rob. (Or, I suppose, 2025.)

Plan Not?

This has all the makings of the consummate lose-lose. If multiple homes at deeply flawed venues should prove to be untenable, Coliseum bridges and options are burned beyond recognition, and the “mystery city” pans out as well as “mystery meat” does in your average sandwich...

Now you have a homeless team, quite literally, and the 2025 season upon us...But of course, they’ll play somewhere no matter how absurd a solution it may be. Possibly they will build a new stadium in the Gap bathroom with assurances of drawing 2.6M each season because tourists.

...And then if the Las Vegas stadium falls apart (and really what could go wrong?) you might be into 2026 with no home in sight for years — and no acceptable home in sight right now either. Summerlin still lacks a roof, Oakland still demands an expansion team and the team name, and while MLB is licking its wounds so are the poor Athletics who are now neither here nor there nor anywhere.

If this weren’t the team I love, I would be sitting back with a fresh batch of popcorn cackling my little head off. How has the MLBPA not already weighed in on what’s acceptable and what isn’t, how have Manfred and Thao not come to an agreement at least about whether or not the Coliseum is a plan of any letter?

And yet the move itself is moving forward as if it’s already 2028 and a stadium managed to fit on a parking lot while coming in under budget (with the priciest seats snatched up by Schools Not Stadiums to proudly give to their Mathletes)? As if there was an acceptable interim venue MLB and MLBPA knew about but kept forgetting to mention ever.

Eh, I’m sure it will all work out. Or...