During this afternoon’s installment of The Drive with Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis, ESPN’s Buster Olney showed up for a segment on baseball and hot stove action. Among the talk of free agents was a discussion between the three about the state of your Oakland Athletics. As with the Wolff interviews, I’ve taken the time to transcribe the 5+ minute discussion. This time I won’t provide any commentary. I’ll leave that to you in the comments. Keep in mind that this was Tierney and Davis asking Olney on his opinion about the franchise, so do not take it as gospel. Instead, consider it simply as the view of a prominent national baseball writer who is not known for mincing words. Also, remember that Olney’s musing last year got the ball rolling on the Wolff-to-Dodgers rumor. That’s how powerful his word is.
Without further ado:
Davis: Things are just dire. They’re a mess over in Oakland.
Davis: It’s horrible over there. What do you hear that they’re willing to do in baseball to help this club?
Olney: Well, the Athletics continue to be strung along with the hope that they’ll eventually end up with a ballpark in San Jose. Here’s the thing. They started that Blue Ribbon panel 2 1/2 years ago, that’s 1 1/2 years longer than it took the Warren Commission to issue its report on the Kennedy assassination.
Olney: The bottom line is that they haven’t gotten any kind of traction from MLB. Now the Dodger situation is getting settled. The labor agreement is getting settled. Maybe at some point soon the Athletics – who to me right now have less hope than any organization in baseball – they are rotting. Maybe if those things get settled out that’s when you’ll see MLB go to the Giants and say, “Look, we need to talk. We need to figure out a way where you get the Oakland territory and Oakland gets San Jose.” That way they can have a future. Right now the Athletics have no future and that’s why Josh Willingham is leaving and their other free agents are leaving, and they’re really not going to step in and do anything about it because their future is so uncertain.
Tierney: I’ll tell you. It is sad and I think you lay it out well. Willingham, there’s no doubt that he’s gone. DeJesus, Matsui, Coco Crisp. I guess the question is besides Jemile Weeks and Pennington who do we even know on the team next season?
Olney: And the pitchers.
Olney: The problem is now though is that let’s say that midway through next year baseball stepped in and said, “Guess what? You get a stadium in San Jose.” All these pitchers they developed, the Trevor Cahills, the Brett Andersons, Gio Gonzalez. By the time they actually break ground and make progress and starting building that park those guys are going to be trade bait.
Tierney: That’s true.
Olney: They’re gonna have to move them out of there because they’re not gonna keep them around, and they’re not gonna sign them to long term deals. It’s really a sad situation.
Tierney: …Lew Wolff, where does he rank in terms of wealth amongst owners? I’m just trying to connect the dots here.
Olney: He’s got wealth – and I’ve always believed this – for example, when people rip the fans in Tampa Bay for not going seeing the Rays. My feeling is those people who live there, they made that decision based on their information. And I don’t blame them. If they don’t think it’s convenient, they don’t think it’s attractive, they’re not obligated to watch their games. I think in the same realm I don’t think Lew Wolff is obligated to pour his money down a hole. The history of Oakland Athletics, whether anyone likes it or not, they cannot draw there. They didn’t draw there with Reggie Jackson. They didn’t draw there with the late Billy Martin’s teams. They didn’t draw there for the Dennis Eckersley teams, the Tony LaRussa teams. They don’t draw now. I think you’ve got a lot of history which tells you that site and that place is a loser if you’re the Oakland Athletics.
Tierney: Wow. *laughs* That is just desperation mode.
Other than personal attacks, anything in that discussion is fair game in the comments. Keep it clean.
Have a nice weekend, everyone?