Is San Jose The A’s “Green Light”?


February 25, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff watches a bullpen session during spring training at Papago Park Baseball Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

With the start of the season drawing near, it is safe to assume that the Oakland A’s may not get an answer regarding their request for a new stadium in San Jose before Opening Day. The A’s have been patiently waiting for MLB and Bud Selig to deliver their decision regarding Oakland’s bid to relocate to the south bay in San Jose. Unfortunately for the green-and-gold, their stadium situation may never get resolved.

Back in December, there were some rumors floating around the blogosphere that the Athletics were going to get the approval necessary to relocate to San Jose by February. Well, Mr. Bob Nightengale of the USA Today, where’s the decision? February came and went, but the Athletics are still faced with the possibility of being stuck in the confines of the cavernous O.Co Coliseum for  years to come.

Lew Wolff and the rest of Oakland’s front office have been pushing MLB and Selig for what seems like three years now to deliver a “yes” or “no” response to their team’s relocation bid. The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, counter that the A’s have absolutely no business exploring the technologically-rich city of San Jose. The Giants have been arguing that San Jose belongs to them and that the city is protected under their so-called “territorial rights.”

The idea of the A’s playing in San Jose, then, becomes this unattainable goal. This story of the A’s desperate attempts to move to San Jose could, in some stretch of the imagination, be compared to a fine piece of American literature.

In F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the novel’s central character Jay Gatsby is forever encapsulated by the ever important “green-light” that burns so bright at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. For Gatsby, the “green-light” seems within reach, but at the same time unattainable. His every wish, hope, and dream goes, unfortunately, unanswered at the end of the novel.

Lew Wolff, the master of illusion, is much like Gatsby in the sense that he’s reaching for something he can’t quite get his hands on: a new stadium. Of course, in Fitzgerald’s novel Gatsby was chasing after Daisy and not some state-of-the-art venue in San Jose.

Wolff and the A’s are seemingly stuck in a total “wasteland,” much like the one that hindered Gatsby’s attempts at reconnecting with Daisy. A foul dust, like the one Nick Carraway describes in the Great Gatsby, is hindering Wolff’s dreams as it did to Gatsby’s. The Athletics, under Wolff, have hopes for a new stadium in the city of San Jose, but the San Francisco Giants are playing the “territorial rights” card and refusing Oakland access into San Jose.

Much like Tom Buchanan, an opposing force to Gatsby and his dreams, the Giants are highly hypocritical. As Sam McPherson so eloquently puts it in his coverage of Oakland’s new stadium bid: “the Giants are so fiercly protective of their own territory yet have the hubris  to open a merchandise store in the middle of the A’s “territory” demonstrates  that the San Francisco organization has no interest in doing unto others what  they would have other do unto them.”

Like Tom, the Giants are immensly wealthy and are bully-like figures in their respective existence. The Giants would be arrogant enough to open up a merchandise store within the boundaries of Oakland’s territory. The A’s, meanwhile, face the possibility of being shut out from gaining a stadium in the city of San Jose.

Much like Gatsby, then, Wolff’s dream will go unanswered and the A’s will continue to sit in a Valley of Ashes with the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg watching over them. Then again, Wolff may not be comparable to Fitzgerald’s greatest literary character. Unlike Gatsby, Wolff does not have many redeemable qualities.

It could be argued that Wolff is the one responsible for placing the Athletics in a Valley of Ashes in the first place. He’s put the A’s in a tough spot and has had polarizing effects on the thinning fan base.

The argument then becomes that this dream or “green-light” never belonged to Wolff, but to the Athletics and their fans. Whether or not the “green-light” is unattainable or not, though, varies among the fans.

The fans of the organization—what’s left of them—are  upset that Wolff is the one still leading the team towards an unattainble “green-light.” Others, like myself, though, are still holding out hope that the A’s (preferably without Wolff) will one day take hold of that “green-light” and never let go.

With that, I’ll leave you all with one fine quote from one fine piece of American literature:

“Gatsby believed in the green-light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run fast, strech out our arms farther…And one fine morining—” (180). F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.


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