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.