Knee-Jerk Reaction: East Bay businesses push to keep A’s, pitch new ownership


There are special moments for thoughtful reflection about new developments with the Oakland A’s … and then there are moments like these where I only have time for a quick post.

If you’re an A’s fan, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard all about the “public display of affection” shown toward the A’s by some major East Bay businesses pushing to keep the team in Oakland yesterday. They even claim to have a potential owner lined up if current owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher don’t want to build a new ballpark in Oakland.

The man leading the charge was Clorox chairman Don Knauss who sounds like a decent guy in an interview on 95.7 FM The Game (I won’t waste your time linking to KNBR’s flimsy interview with Knauss).  I love his enthusiasm for the project, support of the A’s and their fans and his belief in Oakland and the businesses in the East Bay.

I want to believe that this press conference is going to lead to a golden age of baseball in Oakland for the A’s, I really do because it was such a nice press conference.  But forgive me if I don’t get too excited about it leading to anything anytime soon. I seem to remember a pretty nice press conference announcing plans for Cisco Field in Fremont several years ago and we all know how that played out.

There have been plenty of press conferences and press releases over the years and the A’s are no closer to having a new ballpark anywhere in the Bay Area.  It’s a tiresome, annoying, drawn-out saga and shows like the one put on at Clorox headquarters in downtown Oakland yesterday and the one Oakland Mayor Jean Quan recently organized to tout plans for “Coliseum City” is just all talk until further notice from someone who actually has a say in the A’s future.

I want to see it work out for the A’s in the Bay Area whether it’s in Oakland or San Jose, I’m just sick and tired of a neverending waiting game being interrupted every once and a while with a burst of hot air by A’s and Giants ownership, local businesses and politicians, and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

Maybe I’m just a jaded A’s fan at this point when it comes to a new ballpark, but I don’t see yesterday’s press conference really amounting to anything for a few painfully obvious reasons:

1.  Knauss and his partners want to work with A’s ownership to build a ballpark in Oakland but Wolff and Fisher have zero interest in keeping the team in Oakland.

2.  Knauss and Co. say they have buyers lined up to keep the A’s in town but Wolff and Fisher have no interest in selling the team.

3.  Apparently Knauss’ group voiced their support to keep the team in Oakland a few years ago when MLB appointed a committee to evaluate the A’s options in the Bay Area and it looks like they never gained any traction with the league which makes me doubt they’ll suddenly be attractive to Selig and his cronies.

Just wake me up when a final decision has been made on whether the A’s can move to San Jose.  A “yes” could lead to a new venue in the South Bay and a “no” might open the door to the team being sold and all of us discovering whether the folks organizing yesterday’s press conference are the real deal with a solid plan to buy the A’s and keep them in Oakland.

I should be excited by the latest development but history has taught me to temper my expectations to the point of being flat-out discouraged by the whole process.

A couple of other random thoughts stirred up by yesterday’s love-in …

* One thing I loved about the press conference is the fact that it’s the kind of thing makes me imagine Wolff flying into a hissy fit. He’s beaten the “Oakland can’t work, there’s nothing viable in Oakland” thing to death over the years and it’s kind of amusing that little things like “Coliseum City” and Knauss’ presentation keep popping up to make it look like there might be a real chance of a new ballpark emerging for the A’s in the East Bay.

* You have to figure Giants ownership loves all this too. Wolff can keep helplessly urging MLB to let him move the A’s to San Jose while the Giants can keep saying no and pointing to stuff like yesterday’s extravaganza as proof that the A’s can make a go of it in Oakland. If you’re Selig why would you want to get your hands bloody trying to pry the South Bay away from the Giants when you can just spin your wheels and hope the situation plays out on it’s own and the A’s stay in their designated territory?

* One big headache for the A’s is that the longer it takes to break ground on a new ballpark somewhere in the Bay Area the closer they come to their lease expiring at the Coliseum and revenue sharing from MLB drying up when the new collective bargaining agreement takes effect. If that revenue sharing falls off the table while the A’s are still stuck in the Coliseum with Wolff and Fisher holding the checkbook I’m sure the ensuing budget cuts and roster purge will make last winter’s sell-off of Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey look like a pleasant experience for fans.

* My gut feeling is that as soon as that revenue sharing check stops showing up in Wolff and Fisher’s mailbox they’ll gut the organization to maintain their ability to at least break even with the club and put the franchise on the block for the highest bidder with no regard whatsoever for whether the new owner will commit to keeping the team in the Bay Area.  Like I said, I’ve become just a little jaded about this whole thing.

* If you put a gun to my head (please, don’t put a gun to my head because I’d wet my pants and cry like a baby) and asked me to choose between A.) Getting a “yes” from MLB on San Jose right now and seeing the A’s in a new ballpark soon with the current owners in charge for a few more decades or B.) Getting the potential owners Knauss was alluding to right now but remaining in limbo in San Jose I’d take option B in a heartbeat.  For my  money, the A’s need new blood and a fresh perspective more than they need a new address right this minute.

I still think that in the long-term San Jose for the A’s makes a lot of sense for almost everyone who isn’t associated with the Giants or in the Oakland Or Bust camp.  But baseball has worked in Oakland in the past and I believe that under the right circumstances it could thrive again. I just get the feeling that stuff like “Coliseum City” and yesterday’s press conference is all too little too late, especially if Wolff and Fisher retain ownership of the A’s.

As always, I hope I’m wrong and the A’s and their fans in the Bay Area live happily ever after with a new ballpark and years and years of winning baseball for everyone to enjoy.


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