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October 05, 2010
A's GM Beane on stadium decision: Soon, maybe?
Is the Oakland A's endless wait for a resolution of its stadium decision almost over? That's what A's GM Billy Beane said yesterday, according to a Contra Costa Times headline ("Oakland A's GM Billy Beane expects word from MLB on recommended stadium site soon"), but the accompanying story was less certain:
"I think we're going to be playing in a new stadium at some point here soon," said Beane, also a minority owner in the club. "I have no inside [information]. The only thing we've been told is that [the report will come] sooner than later. I know that's pretty ambiguous, but we anticipate it being sooner than later, and hopefully very soon."
Okay, that's not "expects," that's "hopes for." For once, MLB.com actually had the more honest headline: "Beane being cautious with A's uncertain future."
Given that MLB commissioner Bud Selig said way back in March that his three-man A's relocation commission was "reasonably close" to done, it seems inconceivable that the delay is about anything other than waiting for the A's and San Francisco Giants to hammer out an agreement about who would pay what to whom if the A's were to move to San Jose.
Meanwhile, Beane had the rare distinction of actually coming up with a new reason for a team to claim it needs a new stadium. To wit:
The Coliseum has been a deterrent for several free agents in recent years, according to Beane, and he tried to convince one that at least the playing surface is among the best in baseball thanks to groundskeeper Clay Wood.
"He said, 'You're right ... until August.' I didn't have an answer for him," Beane said of the mess the field becomes after the Raiders begin play.
Everyone who thinks that the reason the A's can't sign free agents, other than pitchers with bum arms, is because of the condition of the outfield grass, raise your hand. Though it's at least more plausible than the chef's salad gambit.
I do not see any progress towards a new Stadium for quite sometime. First, Jerry Brown may become Governor, and as everyone knows had no interest in the A's as Mayor, and may very well not make things any easier as Governor (Stronger environmental regulations and tax increases may be on the way#. Throw in the the Mayor's race #How will the new Mayor come down on this issue?#. The fate of the Raiders is still another factor. Al Davis is 80, and no one knows where the franchise will end up. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Owners and Players is still another #The possibility of Consolidating teams is a bargaining chip the owners have#. Finally, as things become closer to the 2012 Election, the more unlikely things will get done. Best case scenario, is an agreement is made in 2013. Meaning it takes three years for a Stadium, so opening would not occur until 2016 #Yhat assumes everything goes right). That means five more years at the Coliseum.
While I don't think the grass is the only reason the A's haven't been able to sign some free agents over the last 15 years, it's definitely a factor. As someone who has been watching the team my whole life it's become a well known fact every August that the outfield is destroyed. And I do mean destroyed. It becomes a patchy, dead, mess that effects how balls play, how soft the grass is for the athletes who spend their days running on it, etc... It's frankly a disgrace.
Raiders = Santa Clara or back to Los Angeles
A's = San Jose, no question in my mind.
Warriors = Eventually move to San Francisco.
Oakland will soon have teams located in their city. But that might be good so they can destroy the stadiums while selling or leasing the land to commercial developers.
I'd rather play on some choppy grass for a quarter of the season than on artificial turf (Toronto, Tampa Bay), too hot (Texas), too humid (Boston, New York, Baltimore), or too cold in April/May (Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota). So that leaves 3 AL cities (Seattle, Anaheim, and KC).
...and that's assuming I'm an outfielder (what, 5-6 roster spots out of 25?) If I'm the vast majority of players, I'll never set foot on it.
Also have to remember, however, that the Coliseum's facilities, both for players and for fans, are horrible as well. And as far as attracting free agents goes, they see an awful lot of the clubhouse, and they probably also see the bleak Coliseum clubhouse compared to the cozy clubhouses at other stadiums (aside from Fenway and Wrigley, which at least have a century of 'mystique' and 'allure' to off set that. And no football team in house.).