The Cost of Indecision

It’s been a while since I have posted here. Not that ML needs any help, but I felt like it was time I stepped up and earned the fact that my name gets to appear with his on the side bar.

This desire to contribute didn’t come out of the blue. It actually took root in a recent meeting that I arranged, at my workplace and over lunch, with ML and one Doug Boxer. Many of you know that Doug is the driving force behind Let’s Go Oakland, a group of people who are passionate and committed to keeping the A’s in Oaktown.

While we didn’t really talk about anything that anyone that reads this site with regularity doesn’t already know, I was impressed with Boxer and his straight forward style in discussing both the advantages of Oakland as well as the challenges it faces. I wish many of the Pro Oakland folks that I know were equally as honest about the challenges that face the Town in their pursuit of having a stadium built. Challenges, that while real, are not impossible to overcome if accepted and addressed. Especially when you have smart people working on a realistic solution. In short, if there is a solution in Oakland, Boxer will be part of sorting it out… Even if he doesn’t have all the answers about funding the joint right now, something I think he would freely acknowledge.

After having this more than an hour discussion, I can say a few things with absolute certitude. The City of Oakland has had an opportunity to put forward it’s best ideas. The ideas they have chosen as the best have been listened to. The people of Oakland are fortunate to have a guy like Doug Boxer in their corner. If he can’t help find a way to make it work in Oakland, I am confident saying that no one can, or will.

One of the topics of discussion, something I hoped to glean but didn’t, was what the heck this two year delay has been all about. ML, Doug and I all had our own thoughts, though none of us really know for certain. The reality is that it doesn’t matter, Bud Selig’s lack of foresight has already been extremely costly to our favorite franchise and should offend the sensibilities of all of us A’s fans in the Bay Area. After all, we live in a region with a long history of successful companies that grow from flashes of imagination to household names in the time it has taken for Bud’s panel to do absolutely nothing but “study” an already pretty clear situation.

From Pandora to Facebook, companies in the Bay Area prove all the time that chasing a perfect solution to any problem is a waste of time and detrimental to getting something done. So is sitting on one’s own hands and waiting for a solution to appear. It seems that one of these two scenarios is playing out before our very eyes. Either Bud is waiting for Oakland, or San Jose, to give up so he doesn’t have to force the issue, or he is expecting years of research to come up with a magic bullet to slay the Beast of Where an A’s Stadium Should Reside. Both are foolish.

A brief interlude… As you can probably already tell, I am kind of cranky. That isn’t really anything new for us A’s fans. Really, it’s like we are all building blocks in the 9th Wonder of the World: The Frustrated Pyramid of Oakland. Think about it for a minute, we are the bottom few rows of humongous sandy blocks. We make up the first few layers of frustration as we sit helplessly watching the players flail away. Those same players make up the next few rows of the great pyramid. As they struggle to figure out how a promising season devolved in one week’s time. Decimated pitching staff? check! Underperforming veterans? Check! But most importantly, clearly incapable of carrying out the most important parts of his duties manager? Double check!

I’d throw Bob Geren in as the next level of frustration, but I am not sure how long he is going to be around. Color me skeptical, but when was the last time an owner went on record in support of his Manager only to change his mind not so long after? Maybe, if Bob Geren gets crushed between the pressure of Billy Beane’s frustration at not being able to get a premier bat to come to Oakland and all the grumpy players (players who are grumpy because Bob Geren, himself, can’t communicate or manage a bullpen) it will provide some stress relief for all of us?

And on top of Beane’s frustration we have Uncle Lew. Now, some of you who read here regularly are going to have real trouble trying to sympathize with Lew Wolff, but just imagine the conspiracy angle is true. Imagine Bud invited Lew to buy the A’s so that he could move the team out of Oakland. Imagine Lew playing his part perfectly… Nope no land in Oakland. Nope, $30M later, Fremont won’t work. Hey Bud, time to pull the trigger on that San Jose thing you asked me to get done… Oh, wait.

Now pretend the conspiracy isn’t real (or accept that it isn’t, depending on your view)… Imagine spending a few years reaching out to different people in Oakland, as Lew did. Imagine amassing the magic “binder” of letter’s rejecting the use of places like Howard Terminal, researching how a river of crap flowing beneath the old HomeBase site impacts potential development, and so on and so forth. Imagine having a solution and walking into Bud’s office and being told… “Hold on a minute while we redo everything you have done and let the local press savage you for the next 2 years and take no action to help you move forward either way… Oh, and please keep holding the line for now. Afterall, we are ‘working’ on it.”

Man alive that is a whole lot of frustration from top to bottom! But how about our two fair cities of consideration? Where do they fit in this Great Pyramid of Teeth Grindage? Has Bud’s indecision cost them anything?

First, an election will need to happen in San Jose should that locale be chosen. He had voter support to make it happen. Who knows what he has now? This is the cost of indecision.

Second, he had some momentum in Oakland… A grass roots group of supporters that are willing to make the case for a new stadium doesn’t exactly fall out of trees. How long does a Facebook group and clicking a link to send a form letter keep people’s attention? This is the cost of indecision.

These are just two, of many examples, of the cost of indecision. Bud didn’t capitalize on either. Instead he says “this is a complex situation” and insults our intelligence. That isn’t how you build the most successful internet radio platform. This isn’t how you build a social network with hundreds of millions of users. This isn’t how you should run Major League Baseball.

At Facebook, there are signs posted all around the place that say “Done is Better Than Perfect.” I think Bud needs to visit and catch a glimpse of how business is done these days. At Pandora, I am sure that copyright law policy and advertising sales campaigns and boosting subscription service account holders are all issues worked in unison. No, the “Dodgers and Mets have really screwed up… everything else is on hold” sort of dalliances don’t usually hold muster at companies that own the future.

Having a consensus builder at the helm isn’t exactly like having a visionary running the show. Having a man who can’t make a decision without the approval of those he “leads” is cutting into our fan base. And by our, I mean we. Me and you and all of us who should be preparing for a new yard instead of bickering about where that home should be.

Some other things that are currently cutting into the A’s fandom? Monte Poole’s monthly “Lew Wolff and John Fisher are characters from an Austin Powers film” column. By now, Poole should have been able to write off the A’s as the 30 mile moving carpet baggers or embraced Wolff for getting something done in the East Bay. Instead I have to argue with my friends, who support the same team I do, once a month about how Lew Wolff isn’t Emperor Palpatine and that, no, me pointing that out doesn’t make me an apologist. I will be really happy when I don’t have to read those columns anymore.

By now, our focus could be on how we band together to get Bob Geren the heck out of Dodge. Instead we argue, here and other places, about what Oakland could have done 15 years ago. As if that matters.

By now, some of us could have moved on to not being A’s fans if we so chose. Instead we drone on and on about what Lew Wolff’s intentions were when he bought the team. As if that has any bearing on MLB’s committee.

By now, some of us could be driving down to check out progress on the new yard every other week. Instead we fight about funding models for an imaginary stadium.

By now, we could all be looking at 3D illustrations and picking a seat for our season ticket package. Instead we are nitpicking “projections” of how many thousands of people would be sitting in the tarped off section of the O.co Coliseum.

By now, we could all be celebrating the signing of some free agent with a power bat. Instead we take sides in a debate over whether Scott Boras was telling the truth about why Adrian Beltre didn’t sign in Oakland.

By now, we could be talking about things that are relevant to the future of our favorite baseball franchise. Instead we are in a perpetual discussion over things that are irrelevant.

This is the cost of indecision. Something tells me a bad decision couldn’t be any worse.

73 Responses to The Cost of Indecision

  1. Tony D. says:

    Yes, an A’s move to SJ would be considered a move “within the same metro area”.Hopefully this means we hear no more South Bay supporters crowing that San Jose is big, bad, and rich enough to be considered “separate” from the SF Bay Area…..caught ya!

    You’re so funny Rob! As an SJ supporter, I’ve never stated that SJ/SV was “separate” from the rest of the Bay Area. Some SJ partisans may have, and like yourself, they are more than entitled to their opinion. On the other hand, the “same metro” is one big place. The “big, bad and rich” of SJ/SV are on record as supporting an A’s ballpark in their own backyard (SVLG letter to Bud Selig anyone?). Would they support an A’s ballpark over 35 miles to the north? (cue the sound of crickets)

  2. Tony D. says:

    And no Rob, you can’t say “well, those SV/SJ company’s support the Giants over 40 miles to the north” because the Giants corporate support from SV/SJ is way overblown by the Giants blowhard ownership. Over 75% of SV corporations not doing any business with the SF Giants anyone? (SVLG poll)

  3. Jesse says:

    @Jeffrey, if Wolff were to meet with Quan I would expect him to show the same binder to her that he was able to show to ML. Why cant he explain to her WHY he can’t get a stadium deal done in Oakland. Quan is a smart capable woman, if she agrees with him, why wouldn’t she call Bud Selig or MLB and say nevermind. Let em go. OR, she could persuade Mr. Wolff that his binder doesn’t have all the answers. Why are we blaming Bud Selig for a problem created by Lew Wolff.

  4. Marine Layer says:

    Damn Jesse, that’s just about the most naive thing I’ve ever seen written by a regular commenter. Neither party wants to work with the other. They want to succeed in spite of each other.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Jesse, because Lew Wolff made a decision. As everyone points out on both sides of the argument, Lew made his choice. Bud Selig, 2 years ago, took ownership of the decision. That is where we are. The path forward requires Bud to do something.

  6. bartleby says:

    @simon94022 Assuming all you say is true, that just tells me the park will ultimately be built in Pacific Commons. No T-rights issue, no parcel to assemble, Wolff/Fisher gets productive use out of a substantial asset they already own, and they get access to the Silicon Valley corporate market. Not as good as in downtown San Jose, but on the other hand the Giants wouldn’t get a nickel in compensation.
    Anyone who thinks just because negotiations with the big box stores stalled on the first go round they are dead forever. I’ve been in enough high-stakes business negotiations to know if the will is there, something will get done, and the issues which supposedly cratered the negotiations seem far from unsolvable to me. Hell, at the end of the day, the A’s could probably just buy out two underperforming big box stores outright for less than they might have to pay the Giants for T-rights.
    The fact that some posters on this site hate the idea of a suburban ballpark will not factor into it whatsoever.
    As Lew Wolff has said, MLB can tell him where not to build, but cannot tell him where to build. Anyone that sentence doesn’t clue in to what the fall back plan is is not paying close enough attention. In the end, economics will out. If San Jose is out, Fremont is the only feasible place that meets the economic objective.

  7. bartleby says:

    Second paragraph, first sentence should end “…is kidding themselves.”

  8. bartleby says:

    @georob The simple answer to your premise is for some purposes it is, and for some purposes it is not. For purposes of watching a game on TV or allowing a hard core fan to go to an occasional game, it is. For purposes of getting a high paid exec or VC to bring a client to a ballgame, it is not.

  9. jeff-athletic says:

    I think a suburban ballpark would be wonderful. The trend over the last 2 decades has been downtown ballparks/arenas/stadiums. However, I’ve always liked more suburban locations. They have more space, more parking, and are generally more accessible (and they can be built near light rail / bart / train lines). The infrastructure for suburban locations is easier as well.

  10. letsgoas says:

    bruce on 1050 early in his show took a call from a sj resident who was a sfg fan who said he’d want the a’s to move to sj. bruce then said he doesn’t think it’ll happen because of the “info” he’s gotten from those within the sfg org saying that the current ownership wouldn’t have bought the team if they knew the sj tr issue would be overturned.

    also that the a’s franchise value being maybe less than half or even more of what the sf is worth would sway mlb to choose sfg over the a’s when it dealt with the tr issue.

    i don’t buy that. but like this post was mentioned, the a’s are screwed without a new stadium both on and off the field and the longer this indecision continues, the a’s are becoming even more irrelevant each passing day, week, month, season.

  11. letsgoas says:

    bruce also keeps mentioning that mt davis should be blown up and they should basically do what the laa did when they knocked down that of structure they had when the rams played there.

    said it’d be good both for the a’s and raiders although think it was more jokinly with the raiders saying that the seats in mt davis are the reason why the place isn’t sold out.

    don’t ever see that happening. even the original stadium bowl for the coliseum is sub par. not to mention that doesn’t change the fact that the seats are still far away. brought up maybe a week or two ago possibly putting a temp fences down the line of the field to cut down the foul territory.

    in the end, a new park is the only way to go for the a’s. don’t think the colisem any part of it is salvagable for either baseball or football.

  12. bartleby says:

    “the current ownership wouldn’t have bought the team if they knew the sj tr issue would be overturned”
    This is an entirely different statement than “current ownership wouldnt have bought the team unless they knew for certain the sj t-rights would not be overturned.” As stated, so what? When one buys a business, there are no inherent guarantees that adverse events will not occur in the future affecting that business.
    And if the latter statement was intended, I’d say “if overturning T-rights was a non-starter, why even have the BRC study the issue?” It would have made the whole thing easier just to say no in the first place. Then, the Fremont ballpark could’ve been mostly built by now.

  13. GoA's says:

    @letsgoas–so if sj is out and oakland can’t afford to build a park, and no one is going to build a privately financed one in oakland than where does that leave us–in the coli for many years to come until something changes? I doubt it….the consequences for MLB of not acting at some point in time are just too great–assembling plots of land is no easy task in todays world—to walk away from it would be simply amazing…

  14. bartleby says:

    @GoA’s “where does that leave us–in the coli for many years to come until something changes?”
    It leaves us in Fremont.

  15. GoA's says:

    @bartleby– I agree–but it will take a recovery of the housing market before that project can take off….so in the meantime we are left at the coli…

  16. bartleby says:

    @ GoA’s From Fremont the A’s can access most of the same revenue streams as in San Jose (e.g. Cisco naming rights plus Silicon Valley premium seat customers and sponsors). So, although ancillary development was the original intended financing mechanism in Fremont, I don’t think the project’s viability depends on it. They could borrow from the same sources they would in San Jose and pay the loan with (most of) the same revenue streams they would have in San Jose.
    Later, if and when the real estate market recovers, the ancillary development becomes a windfall. That upside is another reason I think it’s a no-brainer the park will be built at Pacific Commons if San Jose fails.

  17. Columbo says:

    Build a f”king stadium for the 49′ers and the Raiders somewhere (S. Clara) and revamp the coliseum, which has 10,000 or more parking spaces and is right next to public transportation. Forget VC, Diridon, Fremont, or anything else. Get rid of that eyesore Mt. Davis. The damn land is already there and ready to go. The surrounding area can be redeveloped to include the f’king bars/restaurants/hotels that everyone keeps harping on. It’s not like there are crips & bloods roaming the coliseum area. My wife’s mother works 3 blocks from the coli and eats lunch on Hegenberger and, other than the occasional homeless person, she said all is o.k. The coli, with the right changes, can be an absolutely great park, IMO. Turn it into a baseball-only facility with only the most modern amenities and kick Al to the curb to follow the 9′ers to a kick-ass stadium in S. Clara Valley that is super bowl worthy. We would have baseball and basketball only at the “Coliseum Complex,” a.k.a. Oracle Park and there would be a ginormous football-only stadium in SC County. Everyone’s happy. PS. sorry for the language if I offended anyone. I’ve had a few beers.

  18. Columbo says:

    And a couple of shots of my friend Jack.

  19. Jeffrey says:

    New Honey Jack? Cause I likes that stuff

  20. Columbo says:

    No, I’m feeling cheap tonight. Just the standard old Jack. A’s lost again and I just exploded a volcano I built for my son and it was awesome. Mentos and soda baby.

  21. Jeffrey says:

    We need a freakin’ tailgate. As long as we can keep it civil… June 19th. Who is in?

  22. Jeffrey says:

    And… Damon Bruce is a pompous windbag. He knows jack crap.

  23. Columbo says:

    I’m in, although Saturdays are better for me. I will bring my 5-year old who will keep me in line!!! j.k.

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