The A’s unresolved ballpark situation/quixotic quest for San Jose continues to drag along at a snail’s pace and what currently appears to be a road to nowhere is littered with minor annoyances at every turn.
I’ve been annoyed with owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher for seemingly being more interested in leaving Oakland ASAP than making a healthy investment to field a winning team for the die-hard fans who have supported four World Series winners and countless playoff teams. I’ve been annoyed with East Bay politicians for, in my opinion, not doing nearly enough over the past two decades to hold onto the A’s. I’ve been annoyed with Major League commissioner Bud Selig and his blue ribbon panel for taking more than 3 years to decide absolutely nothing.
And sometimes, more than anything else, I’ve been annoyed with that little team across the Bay.
The Giants have treated territorial rights to the South Bay like a birthright even though they only have a claim to the region because former A’s owner Walter Haas was kind enough to let San Jose shift from shared territory to Giants country so the team could pursue a move. The Giants have arguably been smug and obnoxious about San Jose from the moment Wolff and Co. turned their backs on Oakland and started batting their eyes at Silicon Valley.
But maybe that’s not particularly fair on my part since I’ll freely admit that I’m totally biased when it comes to the Giants’ stance on this whole mess. I just want the A’s to enjoy long-term prosperity somewhere in the Bay Area and anything that stands in the way of that happening sooner rather than later has a tendency to make my blood pressure rise.
But I’m trying to mellow with age which is why I’m taking a deep breath and viewing the A’s ballpark situation from the Giants’ perspective. What if you could get Larry Baer, Bill Neukom, Peter Magowan and Friends to loosen up over a half dozen beers and collectively tell A’s ownership and fans what they really think of this tiresome, neverending saga?
All I can do is venture a guess, so here are a handful of questions for the Giants with my attempt to piece together some answers by looking at their side of things through black and orange-tinted glasses.
Question for the Giants: How do you feel about the A’s wanting to move to San Jose?
Theoretical Giants Answer: Do you really have to ask?
It was bad enough that those clowns in green and gold set up camp across the Bay from us in 1968 when we had the region all to ourselves, now they want to move into our lucrative South Bay back yard after they gave the area to us?
We should have put up a fight before the A’s moved here from Kansas City and we’ve learned our lesson. We had to watch the A’s win four World Series in Oakland before we finally won one of our own and we’re not about to let them tap into the riches of Silicon Valley to potentially go on another World Series binge.
Is it a little mean that back when we were down and out and in need of a new home in the Bay Area the A’s were gracious enough to relinquish shared rights to the South Bay so we could pursue a brighter future and now we refuse to return the favor? If Wally Haas still owned the A’s and Bob Lurie still owned the Giants then maybe something nice could be worked out today. But times have changed and the bottom line is that San Jose belonged to the Giants when we bought the team and a gentleman’s agreement from the late-1980s doesn’t mean anything to us.
Q: How do you feel about the face of A’s ownership, and the man who openly lusts for San Jose, Lew Wolff?
TGA: Our ownership group would rather spoon with Tommy Lasorda than spend a minute in the same room with Mr. Obsessed With San Jose. We’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve seen him in the hotel lobby at owners meetings wandering around mumbling, “San Jose … San Jose … San Jose … San Jose …” to himself.
Wolff’s like a broken record and we’re doing our best to tune him out. The fact that it looks like he’s created a self-fulfilling prophecy that baseball can’t thrive in Oakland isn’t our problem.
Q: How do you feel about the big ownership money behind Wolff, John Fisher?
TGA: Little Johnny Fisher? We love the guy!
He used to be a part-owner of our team until we hatched a master plan for him to sell off his interest in the Giants so he could buy the A’s and put our evil plan in motion for him to run the Oakland franchise into the ground.
As soon as we squeeze all the life out of the A’s buy putting a death grip on San Jose, Fish will sell the A’s to someone who’ll move them out of the Bay Area and he’ll use some of his profits to buy back into the Giants and reap the long-term benefits of doing our bidding. As George Peppard used to say on “The A-Team,” we love it when a plan comes together.
Oh wait! Did we just say all that? Just kidding! It must be all that beer getting to our heads. John Fisher? Never heard of the guy …
Q: Don’t you think letting the A’s move to San Jose would be in the best interests of the game?
TGA: Well, it depends on what game you’re talking about. The game we’re playing is “Kill The A’s Or Get Rich Trying” so, no we don’t think letting the A’s move to San Jose would be in the best interest of that thoroughly entertaining game.
But you know what the best part of our game is? To a certain degree we can’t really lose.
If the A’s don’t get San Jose they’ll either move out of the Bay Area, rot at the Coliseum for eternity, or find some way to build a stadium in the East Bay leaving San Jose to us. In each of those scenarios we keep the South Bay cash cow all to ourselves.
If the A’s get San Jose they’ll give us a mile-high pile of cash for the territory and we’ll turn around and run an all-out blitz to win over jilted East Bay A’s fans who’ll flock to our gleaming baseball paradise by the Bay at AT&T Park. And you know what? Even if the A’s move to San Jose we’ll still draw a ton of fans and corporate money from the South Bay so it’s no biggie one way or the other.
But why not have a little fun and stick it to the A’s as much as possible for as long as possible as the whole process drags along?
Q: What do you think of the fact that the A’s have a powerful all-sports flagship radio station, 95.7 FM The Game behind them to compete with your station, KNBR?
TGA: 95.7? Absolutely love’em.
The Game talks about us all the time. Seriously, they never stop talking about the Giants. It’s like KNBR got a signal boost into FM and an increase in listeners without us having to spend a dime.
95.7 spends so much time talking about the Giants that sometimes we get the feeling that The Rise Guys, John Lund, Brandon Tierney, and Eric Davis are auditioning for jobs on KNBR. You think those guys wouldn’t jump at the chance to ditch 95.7 to replace Ralph Barbieri on KNBR?
Have you noticed that we’re running commercials on the A’s flagship station? We’ve actually sold a lot of tickets through those commercials and the fact the 95.7 is going to have a weekly conversation with Buster Posey and Matt Cain is also sure to a go a long way toward selling more tickets and winning over new fans.
95.7 FM The Game is one of the best things to ever happen to us.
Q: How do you feel about the way MLB commissioner Bud Selig has handled the San Jose/A’s issue?
TGA: Buddy Boy’s been doing one heck of a job! He was over at Larry Baer’s house last weekend doing some yard work and cleaning the pool. We even made him wear nothing but Aubrey Huff’s gold thong just because we can make Bud jump though hoops like that anytime we want to. He never said one thing about letting the A’s move to San Jose.
Let’s face the facts: Bud’s a former team owner working for team owners. Compared to the owners of the A’s, we have more money and more power so who do you think he’s going to side with? Bud only has a job because owners like us let him have a job and being commish suits the old man’s ego.
Bud’s not going to step on our toes just because his frat boy pal Lew Wolff is shaking a tin cup and crying poverty when he’s actually part of one of the wealthiest ownership groups in MLB and Oakland has shown in the past that it can draw more than 2 million fans a season.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
TGA: Our organization is greatly amused by the fact that A’s fans have often rolled their eyes at our franchise for having a suspected drug cheat like Barry Bonds in the middle of our lineup yet you’re set to welcome a known drug cheat like Manny Ramirez to the middle of your lineup in less than 50 games.
Fans of the green and gold have also mocked us for regularly signing middle-aged players but you have a portly old man like Bartolo Colon at the front of your rotation and an overpaid 36-year-old free-agent bust in the form of Brian Fuentes in the back of your bullpen.
Oh, and remember how high and mighty you were when you had homegrown studs like the Big Three, Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez, and Miguel Tejada on your roster back when you were a force to be reckoned with? How do you like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Brian Wilson, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval? Yeah, they’re all homegrown players, they all have World Series rings, and most of them are going to spend most of their careers in orange and black — fans like that sort of thing.
And if you’ve ever laughed at our fans for wearing fake beards and panda or giraffe hats, we have a little something to say: Have fun wearing a bag over your head as your once-proud franchise limps toward 100 losses this season.
Feel free to dream about San Jose all you want because until further notice you’re stuck rotting away in Oakland. There’s nothing sweeter than having the last laugh and we’re enjoying every minute of this.
Q: Seriously? Are you going to end what was meant to be a nice little conversation on a note like that?
TGA: Well, I guess we have been a little nasty haven’t we? One World Series title and sold-out crowds all season in the prettiest ballpark in America can go to a franchise’s head. Sorry about that.
You want to know the truth? This franchise can actually relate to the A’s current situation because the Giants have been in a similar bind. This is a club that used to be stuck in a shoddy old two-sport stadium in a dumpy location on the outskirts of town, in dire need of a new venue to remain competitive.
And you know what happened? This ownership group came in and made a major commitment to our hometown and our fans. We took a major risk by digging into our own pockets and built a gorgeous ballpark in our own territory.
We spent big in free agency to land Barry Bonds who was the face of the franchise for 14 years. We’ve been investing money in the club ever since and the fans, who we believed were always there to support us even when we were playing in front of sparse crowds in Candlestick Park, have been flocking to the AT&T Park ever since.
Your problem isn’t Oakland and it isn’t us making what we feel is a fully valid claim to San Jose. Your problem is ownership. Don’t look for a new city to solve your problems, look for a new owner.
Get a new owner, work with the territory you have, show your fans you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to competing and you may find you have something special on your hands in several years.