The Reckoning in May?

Update 3:45 PM – Slusser just tweeted that the issue will not be on the agenda even though Wolff has requested it. And the beat goes on…

Susan Slusser reports that the A’s are putting territorial rights on the owners meetings agenda next month. Will we finally get a resolution? We just might.

Back in December I had heard that ownership had the option to put the matter on the February meeting agenda. For whatever reason that didn’t happen. My guess is that the acceleration of the Dodgers’ sale and bankruptcy resolution came somewhat unexpectedly, which forced the A’s back onto the backburner once more.

There is an inherent amount of risk to making this move, as a vote could go against Lew Wolff and John Fisher. The big unknown is whether this vote is being shepherded by Bud Selig, who generally tries to build consensus before doing anything. Considering how long this has taken, anything’s possible. If this goes according to Selig’s M.O., he probably has both the votes and at least some kind of framework in place for a deal to compensate the Giants, whatever that is. If not, Wolff could lose and be left with no other option than to work something out in Oakland.

Slusser cites the Tracy Ringolsby article that we mentioned here last week, along with the threat of a San Jose antitrust lawsuit should the vote go against the A’s and San Jose.

Either way, I’m glad we’re finally getting somewhere with this. It promises to be a very exciting and newsworthy next couple of weeks. I’ll be back from San Diego the day before the meetings start, so I’ll be able to give it the attention it deserves.

P.S. – If you’re wondering whether or not a vote will actually be taken, just remember that the executive council had a report presented by Selig’s 3-man panel during the winter meetings. If the owners didn’t have the information necessary to vote on the issue before, they most assuredly do now.

114 Responses to The Reckoning in May?

  1. Tony D. says:

    @Dan way back,
    Are you seriously suggesting I’m putting the death of a human being on par (or close) to the A’s saga? Perhaps I should edit my earlier post, “on a much, much, much, much, much, much, lighter note…” Is that better for you?! C’mon man!
    That was hilarious! After today, I think we all needed that one.

  2. Jesse says:

    Stand for San Jose (run by the Gigantes) opened litigation claiming that the EIR certified by the city was invalid.

  3. Tony D. says:

    I find it interesting that Slusser first stated that a “Major League source” stated the A’s wanted the stadium issue on the agenda, Wolff went on to state “I have no comment, we’re following the process,” YET it somehow turned into Wolff and the A’s wanting a vote on the stadium issue at the May meeting. Funny how that worked out…RELAX people!!

  4. Anon says:

    @ Freddy aka JK-USA?!! –

    “Remember “reducing inventory increases scarcity and perceived value” and all that “intimate ballpark” hustle? Well that TARP deal didn’t work out so well.” Last year’s avg. / game attendance actually was higher than Haas last year owning the A’s. Also, interestingly enough it is only 1-2k less in attendance than 2000, when the A’s went to the ALDS pre-tarp and all.

    “Now he’s busy adding another inch of paperwork to his binder – you know, the one that takes him two hours to go through page by page. The one that proves everyone else – the city of Oakland, the property owners between 66th and High, the Fremont NIMBYS, the SF Giants, etc. – are the ones to blame.

    “He doesn’t know sports, he doesn’t know our area – he’s a real-estate developer from Southern California.” Um actually he does as he was a big south bay developer and owner of several hotels throughout the area.

    “He has never once displayed any accountability for the franchise he purchased – that which he owns.” Accountability in what terms? Retaining top talent at the executive level to oversee the franchise by offering them an unprecedented minority ownership? Having the audacity to take on addition player salaries if somehow the a’s were in striking distance of winning the division or supplementing talent? Or how about forking over their own money to acquire land in Fremont and striking lucrative deals with corporate partners like Cisco?

    “The territorial rights granted to his franchise are now scorched earth. He’s still busy plowing salt in that ground.” And easily overturned by the commissioner or by 75% of the owners.

    “So now he plans to buy lawyers with the revenue sharing money provided by the profitable owners to sue these owners, thus forcing them to dig back into their wallets to shell out for their own defense?” Are you realistically saying that the A’s are suing themselves? You do know who Stand For SJ is don’t you?

    “Bad, bad move. The antitrust exemption is as key to the industry as home plate is to the game.” It’s interesting that pro-Oaklanders only saving grace is the TR, which again can be overturned. Then again, didn’t MLB move the Expos into striking distance of the O’s? Are you really arguing that the Bay Area is somehow unique enough among 2 teams market to have the only defined TR, one that was given on the premise of a move down south?

    “His fratbuddy Bud or one of the other owners needs to take him aside, explain the rules of the game.” Actually, Bud is sympathizing with him or do you not keep up with the news beyond 1995?

    “Lew, first you gotta get on base before you can steal home.” Shouldn’t that be “Oakland, you can’t hit continue to try to hit 5 run homers in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-0 game.”?

  5. eb says:

    “Last year’s avg. / game attendance actually was higher than Haas last year owning the A’s. ” in 1995, the year after the baseball strike?

  6. Anon says:

    @ eb – thanks you got me there….cupcakes for you to help you with your grieving in the next few months. :)

  7. bartleby says:

    “in 1995, the year after the baseball strike?”
    Yes, but continuing a consistent downward trend that began five years earlier.

  8. bartleby says:

    SCOTUS stands for “Supreme Court of the United States,” so called to distinguish it from the state supreme courts. Thus, there is no “Florida SCOTUS.”
    The Florida Supreme Court itself noted it’s decision was against the overwhelming weight of Federal precedent. The Florida decision itself would not be binding precedent anywhere except Florida state court, and would likely have been overturned had the case gone to the SCOTUS. I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on that decision vs. three U.S. Supreme Court decisions and something like seven consecutive Federal Circuit decisions.

  9. eb says:

    “Yes, but continuing a consistent downward trend that began five years earlier.” Sloping attendance that matched the team’s direction on the field. I’m not trying to get into this whole tarp stuff. Some people like them, some don’t. It’s become a running joke for many. Just pointing out the less than truthful nature of dear Anon’s point.

  10. Burton says:

    “Sloping attendance that matched the team’s direction on the field.” – With all due respect that’s not true. In 1991 after 3 straight World Series appearences, and despite having the highest payroll in baseball – attendance fell. In 1992 the A’s made the playoffs, attendance fell again. We can’t fool ourselves into thinking that we can dollar ticket or two dollar ticket our way to 2 million in attendance and better the on the field product; much less finance a stadium.

  11. bartleby says:

    @eb “Just pointing out the less than truthful nature of dear Anon’s point.”
    Not a fair comment. Anon’s statement was truthful; he pointed out a fact. You pointed out an additional factor that might partially account for that fact, but that doesn’t make the fact untruthful.
    It also remains true that during the four years prior to the strike Haas lost something like 2,500 to 5,000 per game every year. If it hadn’t been for the strike, it seems likely attendance still would have been down – maybe not by 5,000 (as it was), but at least by several thousand.
    As Burton points out, those weren’t all losing teams. And while every team’s attendance is affected by losing, Haas lost attendance at a much faster rate than Wolff has despite a less challenging competitive environment. So I’d say Anon’s point was quite defensible.

  12. eb says:

    @Burton Now, I was still a very young man at that point, but if I remember the vibe correctly, people were exasperated after only winning one title and the writing was very much on the wall for that dynastic A’s team. Established fixtures on the team were aging or being traded or free agents (Jose, Stew, Ricky, Carney, etc.) It was clear the team was on a downward spiral, which is why I think attendance started to roll back from its pinnacle.

  13. eb says:

    @bartleby Anon was trying to illustrate the perceived effectiveness of the tarps by comparing it to the last season of the Haas tenure, which happened to follow an incredibly unpopular strike year at the end of the great A’s teams run. You don’t think that doesn’t seem like closing an eye to suit one’s argument? Yes, factually it’s true, but it is not a very nuanced way of looking at what really happened and, really, I don’t even know what it is supposed to prove anyway.

  14. eb says:

    BTW, ” I was still a very young man at that point” means I was a teenager (Christ, I’m even starting to type like I’m no longer young.) Anyways, carry on.

  15. Anon says:

    @ eb – as usual, you’re getting emotional and sensitive over 1 point. I even gave you the benefit of a doubt even though the rest of AL was still outpacing the A’s. However, as usual you fail to understand the big picture including my statement about the 2000 year: it was barely better than last year. You can continue to nitpick at the minutest detail and ignore tge big picture, but in the end the only person you’ll fool is yourself. And no, i won’t go into the middle of Oakland and say that, so you don’t have to resort to the tough guy act okay? :x

  16. Booster says:

    Wait a minute, so if the A’s are allowed to move to SJ the East Bay territory may be given to the Giants? Can somebody please explain to me why that isn’t a stupid idea? All I’ve heard from pro-SJers is that moving the A’s to San Jose will expand the fan base and make things equal in the Bay Area. How does trading one territory for another make things equal, especially when the Giants will still be entitled to more area?

  17. Briggs says:

    @Booster: The A’s are proposing the Bay Area be shared. Specifically, T-right only restrict where a ballpark can be built. The Giants and A’s are currently free to market anywhere they want. This won’t change if the A’s are given the option to build in SJ.

  18. xootsuit says:

    The legislative history of the Curt Flood Act of 1998 shows that Congress was well aware that some recent court decisions had taken a very narrow view of the A/T exemption. Congress went out of its way to explain that the CFA had no bearing on any aspect of the A/T issues beyond the player-focused provision in its text. Congress neither endorsed nor disapproved of any specific version of the A/T exemption, as it was (and still is) developing in the courts.
    Some courts have taken a very narrow view of the A/T exemption; others have taken a broader view. Personally, I think mlb generally wants to avoid litigating the scope of the exemption, because it’s just too risky to do so. Originally, I thought that the Giants were cooking up ways to threaten mlb with an A/T challenge over territorial division, if mlb decided to give San Jose to the A’s. Perhaps under Neukom they were. Now that mlb seems to be stiffing the A’s, it appears that the A’s may be making A/T threats.
    The A’s new lawyer Ruby is not an A/T lawyer, but he has plenty of help at his current firm. The law firm representing the Giants (and the plaintiffs in the little writ proceeding currently pending in SCCounty Superior Court) began litigating A/T matters almost moments after the Sherman Act became law 120 years ago, and they’ve been at it ever since. The other mlb owners are probably taking the dispute between the A’s and the Giants very seriously. I wonder how they’ll react to the most recent aggressive moves from the A’s.

  19. dmoas says:

    eb, if the reason for the 90′s slide was because fans “were exasperated after only winning one title and the writing was very much on the wall for that dynastic A’s team” you’re basically proving the point. There are very, very few teams capable of consistently throwing around enough money to consistently be playoff contenders. The Yankees have done it for nearly 15 years but look at their payroll over the period. If you’re saying the only way people will support an Oakland team is if they’re winning, well, that’s not exactly endearing to anyone trying to build a team. You’re going to have down years, that’s just a reality unless you’re the Yankees or Red Sox.

  20. xootsuit says:

    Compare the A’s attendance slide in the 90s to the Giants. Even with Candlestick Park as home, the Giants pulled out of the post-strike depression quickly and rose toward 2M (finally hitting it in 99). Meanwhile, the A’s barely topped 1M (although they hit 1.4M in 99). The group that saved the Giants for SF in 92 turned the team around. They obviously invested in Barry Bonds, and the investment paid off immediately — 93 was a thrilling year (Bonds and Matt Williams back to back in the LU). The ownership group came out of the strike with the same attitude (the Matt Williams for Jeff Kent deal in 97, e.g.). The team was both exciting and successful and momentum was growing just when the new ballpark opened.
    The A’s attendance slid in the 90s because they did nothing comparable. By the time the A’s were competitive again, in 2000, the Giants new park was open. For what it’s worth, I do not see anything in the Wolff/Fisher/Beane approach to the A’s that compares to the Giants of the 90s. Even if the A’s get consent to move to San Jose, they’ll be coming to town without the sort of momentum that made the Giants move so successful.

  21. Jerry says:

    Up until recently, I just figured that Wolff was just a rich, greedy front man for an even richer, greedier majority partner who didn’t care about anything but moving the team out of Oakland and putting together a stadium/development deal so they could get even richer. Now I realize that he is an incompetent idiot for getting himself into this situation without having all his ducks lined up and without getting assurances that he could bank on from Selig. After all, Selig was his long-time frat buddy who went with Lew and Fisher despite having local interests who wanted to buy the team and keep it in Oakland, people who really cared about the A’s and their great tradition in Oakland. Now he looks like a total fool he had no clue about what he was getting into and was duped or betrayed by his good friend Bud. And, as usual, it is the fans who have to suffer. What a complete disgrace what these owners have done to the franchise and to the fans! But no problem, they can still sell the team for a handsome profit and move on to some other half-assed venture while we fans have to worry about the fate of the A’s.

  22. pjk says:

    Would those people who really care about the A’s kindly go to the games? 5,000 fans a night like the A’s were getting last week won’t cut it. This assures the A’s will have to leave. Want to defeat any arguments that Oakland can’t support MLB? Put 25,000 people in the stands every night, not just when the Yankee$ Red $ox or Giants are in town. The 5,000 I saw (officially 10,000 but it wasn’t close to that much) at the ballpark last week is pathetic. Right now it’s all a bunch of “You can’t take our A’s away! But I don’t go to the games anyway….Have these so-called local buyers ever made a public commitment to privately funding a new ballpark in Oakland, whjch will be necessary since Oakland has had hundreds of millions of dollars for new facilities for the Raiders and Warriors but $0.00 for the A’s? Didn’t think so.

  23. eb says:

    @dmoas “If you’re saying the only way people will support an Oakland team is if they’re winning, well, that’s not exactly endearing to anyone trying to build a team” There are very few areas in this country that have supported their baseball teams in huge numbers during non winning seasons, especially if they play in an outdated venue. The areas that do are not the norm, but the exception. And, yes, A’s attendance has never been anything to brag about in general. I’m not claiming that the A’s fan base has been some dominant, loyal force. TV ratings, radio, attendance has shown that’s not the case and that falls on all of us as A’s fans. Hopefully, a new yard will turn that around.
    @Anon You were doing so well.

  24. G & G says:

    Greg Papa just made a joke on 95.7 that made me cringe, if the San Jose deal does not get the green light…The A’s move back to Philadelphia, The North Philly A’s. Lets hope something happens.

  25. Tony D. says:

    Wolff an “incompetent idiot”? Perhaps you should be referring to Oakland politician’s of the past 16 years when using such descriptions. BTW, your post was also hilarious; keep em coming!

  26. LoneStranger says:

    @xootsuit – “Even if the A’s get consent to move to San Jose, they’ll be coming to town without the sort of momentum that made the Giants move so successful.”
    I think once the decision is made to open up TR in Santa Clara, the A’s will begin that push. Maybe they already have with the Cespedes signing. Too early to tell, since so much is still in flux.

  27. pjk says:

    re: Wolff was just a rich, greedy front man for an even richer, greedier majority partner

    …it’s now fashionable to refer to the mega-successful as rich, greedy and evil. Problem is, I don’t think any poor people have the capital to purchase sports franchises.

  28. xootsuit says:

    @lone: I don’t think the A’s can generate that sort of momentum in two or three years. They would have to invest dramatically (as the Giants new owners did in 92). Cespedes is impressive, but he’s not a proven MVP-caliber star. He’s not leading the league in SOs this morning only because he did not play last night. Maybe the market is different today than it was 20 years ago; cable tv certainly is. Maybe the A’s can ramp up quickly once they get to San Jose. If they get consent to move, I hope they do invest enough to put a first-rate team on the field. The worst thing for the Bay Area would be an empty Coliseum in Oakland and a mediocre team in San Jose. If Wolff and Fisher intend to generate profit from properties and developments tangential to the new ballpark, a mediocre team might be good enough to support those efforts. As you can see, I have no faith in Lew Wolff’s commitment to baseball.

  29. Columbo says:

    @ pjk – “it’s now fashionable to refer to the mega-successful as rich, greedy and evil.” I suppose it depends on what your definition is of “mega-successful.” If you make $850k per year you probably feel pretty good about yourself and believe you are part of the 1%, which is true…to a degree. There is another level of this 1% that sits toward the top whose earnings are in the stratosphere. I like to call them the ultras and they have simple dividends from holdings that spin off hundreds of millions of dollars per year or more and they can influence major policy. IMHO, there is a difference between the ultras and a guy like LW, someone I’ve never considered evil. Greedy? Yes, but not evil. When someone says “The 1% vs everyone else,” I laugh because I think it’s more like the .00001% vs everyone else.

  30. dmoas says:

    eb, I’m not disagreeing that that’s the ultimate reality of attendance. The problem I have is the open requirement that ownership throw money at creating a competitive team before the team is supported. I have no problem with fans saying “You know what, this team sucks, I have no interest in showing up to watch this.” That’s every fans’ right. Hell, I’ve done it myself. But the open blame and accusations that spins ownership as evil when they’re not willing to take heavily losses just to “prove” some sort of commitment to winning before they *might* consider showing up is out of line.
    In reality they will only show up if that money spent by ownership leads to actual on-field success. I just call BS on that. Fans can’t have it both ways. They can try, mind you, but if they expect anyone to take them seriously or care, they’re out of their minds.
    And for what it’s worth, I don’t lump you into that crowd, my comments are more a reaction to the notion of “win or I don’t show” fairweatherness being the sole responsibility of ownership in a game designed not to be that simple that drives me nuts. It’s just a very short-sighted stance to take.

  31. letsgoas says:

    papa on 95.7 just said he doesn’t think the a’s have the votes to get the green light to sj. i don’t know where he gets this info from. although i really shouldn’t expect to listen to anything on 95.7 that is “pro a’s” or “pro sj a’s” other than townsend/tittle are on. papa i’ve yet to hear anything positive about the a’s come out of his mouth be it on tv or radio over the years.

    it hasn’t been said much recently here but fuck the midgets! those selfish greedy bastards all can take a long walk off a short pier. my disgust and hatred for that team will never go away even if the a’s do move down to sj. just too bad not many here in the local media will call them out because they’re all scared they’ll get the cold shoulder from that dirtbag franchise. go a’s!!

  32. Briggs says:

    Midgets? Oh, Giants. That’s a nice change of pace from people calling them the “gints” or the “gnats.” I’m not really a Giants hater, but I’m still waiting for the clever soul who’ll call them the va’giants.


    This prob doesn’t mean anything to anyone here, but I scored tickets to Pulp tonight at The Warfield. I was just thinking that similar to the A’s, I’ll be among three thousand people there to see a group that hasn’t done anything worth mentioning since the early 2000s.

  33. Rayburn's Son says:

    Papa is an idiot. He has no substance or logic to any conclusory opinions he blabs.
    Agree wholeheartedly with your second assessment. I’ve always had a disgust for the va’giants – not the players, but the management (specifically Baer), the ownership and the fans are all collectively appalling.
    Oh, and the black and orange halloween costumes are repugnant as well.
    AT&T”s architecture and design and location are fine, but it’s never pleasant (no matter where you are) watching a baseball game in June when it’s freaking 48 degrees with 20 mph winds. Just doesn’t work.

  34. RC says:

    Question for the more optimistic A’s fans here: If the A’s don’t get to move to San Jose, what exactly is their future? Wolff will sell, I get that. But then what?

  35. Jeffrey says:

    RC, none of us know.
    Speculative answer: Wolff/Fischer sell to one of two kinds of groups : 1. Those that want to stay in the Bay, 2. Those that want to pretend to want to stay in the bay but really want to move somewhere like San Antonio, Portland, etc.
    If it is 1, I imagine whoever buys will have had advanced discussions with some city in Contra Costa/Alameda and thinks they can get ‘er done. In which case I say “hell yes!”
    If it is 2, I am getting a Guy Fawkes mask and hitting MLB’s headquarters.

  36. Columbo says:

    @ Jeffrey – They can “get’ er done” in Ala/CC counties. Dare I say it would be a bigger “Splash Hit” than AT&T Park for many reasons.

  37. Tony D. says:

    The A’s WILL get to move to San Jose! And no amount of “insider” speculation and threads gone awry is going to change that. In Wolff, Selig, Reinsdorf, Raij and Busch I trust…

  38. Columbo says:

    One day, back in the summer of 1989, while in high school, I was driving down 880 from San Leandro to Alameda to get to my part-time job in Alameda (at a gym). I remember driving my 1968 bug with 15″ woofers and a 500 watt Rockford Fosgate amp past the Coliseum blasting “Painkiller” by Westworld and saw the temperature displayed as +100 degrees. After work, at around 4pm, I had to go pick up my then-girlfriend at Pier 39 in SF. When I arrived in SF it was foggy with a wind chill that had to be in the 50′s. We returned to sunny skies and warm temps in Oakland. I’m not saying Oakland doesn’t get cold but I think a JLS ballpark would be head-and-shoulders above AT&T any day of the week. Coliseum City, meh, it would be less attractive but, IMHO, better than AT&T (assuming the entire area is revamped, i.e. with things to do before and after games).

  39. Columbo says:

    @ Tony D – I admire your persistence and faith. That is something that is lacking in the world today.

  40. John Sports says:

    I think you make a very valid point.
    As far as Greg Papa remarks, if he would have said anything remotely positive about the possible move to San Jose…all of you would be popping the Champagne, claiming there must be something happening, someone with Papa’s stature would not say this without knowing something.

  41. RC says:

    @ Columbo- Actually, I admire your optimism. And yeah, a ballpark at JLS would be cool. I couldn’t even imagine the timeline on something like that considering the past and where we are now. And being more popular than AT&T? With talk of leaving the state and contraction, you are definitely on the other end of the scale. Thanks everyone.

  42. A's Fan says:

    Greg Papa knows nothing.

  43. RC says:

    @ Jeffrey- yeah that actually makes sense- no one buys the team without at least some advanced discussion with a city (wherever that may be). With the variables involved in Coliseum City, it seems like a non SJ solution is far off, maybe end of the decade far. I hope I am wrong.

  44. pjk says:

    If Oakland really really wanted a new ballpark at Jack London Square, it would offer $$ not just for the site but for actual construction. Instead, Oakland offers only the Coliseum parking lot and $0.00 for ballpark construction.

  45. Tony D. says:

    @john sports (who are these people?),
    Jerry does make valid points…if you’re into comedy! Alas, most SJ partisans (who are actually pro A’s ballpark in the Bay Area in our lifetime partisans) have become immune to “insider” and columnist speculation, even if its so-called pro-SJ. When Wolff or Selig finally talk, we will listen.

  46. Columbo says:

    @ pjk – I think that is what they’re working on, i.e., money for construction. Somebody (whether you believe they are delusional or not) believes it can work in Oakland, specifically a downtown ballpark near the water. We shall see……if MLB allows it this time.

  47. John Sports says:

    Just my opinion on Jerry’s points, I love hearing both sides of this ongoing saga.
    I do agree with you when you say “When Wolff or Selig finally talk we will listen.”

  48. RC says:

    @Tony D- Yeah, I still think the A’s have a fair shot at SJ. And anything the A’s can do to piss off the Giants is great in my book. But I am worried, worried about my team if they don’t get SJ. How many years in limbo do we have to wait until the A’s can really compete again? The fact is, Coliseum City is the only backup plan we have that is more than just an idea like JLS. How long would it take for the A’s to find new ownership, then get the W’s and the Raiders on board for Coliseum City (and the W’s already want to leave) and agree on a final plan, and each find financing for said plan? Then, of course, build the thing. Am I wrong in thinking 2018? What do the A’s do until then?

  49. Jeffrey says:

    Columbo, getting ‘er done in Alameda COntra Costa hasn’t happened yet, not sure we should be optimistic that it eventually will.
    As for JLS… Despite the fact that there are significant issues with the only two JLS sites (you can go back and read about them when I researched them long ago) and the fact that one was too complicated to happen while the other cost too much ($250M just to prepare Victory Court)… I certainly agree that if they are to stay in Oakland, it shouldn’t be at the Coliseum site.
    A development like Coliseum City wouldn’t even begin construction until 5-7 years from now. I am pretty certain that if that is the plan (Coliseum City), it won’t happen at all.

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