Reminder: We’re still accepting donations

Update 2/24: I’ll put this up one more time, and that’s it. Thanks for your support. Please see below this post for new content.

The response to the donation request has been excellent so far. Thanks to all of you who have donated. I’ve been working hard on editing the blog archive, and I hope to have something for you shortly.

If you haven’t given yet, please consider it. The site won’t go dark without your donation, but every little bit will allow me to get a better hosting situation, cover gas and transit fare to meetings, and other expenses. Click on the Donate button to the left to get involved. You’ll get an e-book containing the best posts from this blog, and my humble gratitude.

Again, thanks.

- r.m./ML

A plea and a promise

Last week I realized something. If I’m going to put some news out into the world, I better make sure the site can handle it. I’ve been in the process of evaluating different providers, and I found that I should have some headroom to handle large bursts of traffic should it come this way. There are other things I need to cover too such as caching, which will be part of the ongoing work here.

You may remember the five-part Lew Wolff interview from 2011 (Part 5). If you havent read it, do so. This blog format allows for the kind of expansive interview on display there that isn’t possible in a tightly edited form of media such as print. I know that you come here for expansive coverage, and I do my best to deliver it. To ensure that this work continues, I’m asking for donations, just as I did for the Wolff interview.

I’m asking for $10 or more, if you can afford it. The donations will help pay for ongoing site costs, travel expenses for meetings in Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, and elsewhere. There’s a donate link to the left which will get you to PayPal. This worked quite well before, so I’m going with the same method this time around. This is not a request that I expect to make more than on an annual basis.

What will you get? Well, let me explain a few things. A handful of you know that I’ve been working on a book based on this blog. The book will not simply be a reprinting of articles. It will be fully chronological narrative of everything that has happened, going as far back as the early Finley and Haas eras. This book can’t be finished until some decision is rendered regarding the A’s future in Oakland and the Bay Area, which has frustrated me to some degree.

Until that’s all squared away, I’d like to offer a digest version of all of the important articles on this blog. It will include all of the analysis and opinion pieces written from 2005 to the present. News recaps will not be included. I’ve already been organizing all of this information for the purposes of the long book, so editing it for what I’ll call the blog archive is a relatively trivial matter. The blog archive won’t be ready this week, but I promise that it’ll be ready early during spring training. Included will be a preface, which won’t be posted on the blog. Like last time, I’ll provide a ZIP file containing multiple formats (PDF, ePub, Mobi for Kindle). If you’re interested, I may provide the archive organized by topic or in chronological order or both. I’m open to suggestions. I’m also exploring Apple’s iBooks format, though that’s probably for something else down the road which may involve a Kickstarter campaign or something similar…

Anyway, I appreciate your support and readership all these years. I’ll try not to blow a gasket putting together the archive, so that the tome gets to you as soon as possible.

—-

Regards,

M.L.

=====

P.S. – I should warn you that having written 1,700+ posts here, and the average length of each post being 500 words, even if I pull out a lot of the chaff the archive could look downright encyclopedic. That would preclude any chance of an actual print volume, though I suppose no one’s stopping you from printing parts of the PDF out. As I get closer to finishing the editing, I’ll provide an update on the length. Look at it this way: if you’re paying by the word, it’s CHEAP.

falcor-wink

A list

This is a list of new venues that have opened for the four major pro sports since the launch of this blog in March 2005.

new_venues

Almost eight years have elapsed since this website was launched. The table illustrates how much has been accomplished in that time.

On a related note: For some reason the day counter had disappeared from the sidebar. It has triumphantly returned.

Go about your day.

Gameplan: San Jose

Wait.

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Then wait some more.

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Keep waiting.

For what?

Bud Selig. The State of California. The San Francisco Giants. Irwin Raij. Bob Starkey. Corey Busch. AT&T.

It’s a terrible feeling being helpless. Unable to control one’s destiny. At the mercy of other governments and governing bodies. That’s San Jose’s lot when it comes to bringing in the A’s. There isn’t much they can do about it. Sue MLB or the Giants and it would take years to resolve. Suing the state over the ballpark land deal would also take time. The best and most San Jose can do now is make sure the Earthquakes stadium gets built on time. The City needs to a productive example to the community that it can in turn use to sell to the public prior to a referendum. Consider it a feather in the City’s cap than a must-have.

One thing that could become a factor is the status of the A’s at the Coliseum past 2013. Though it’s expected that the A’s will sign some kind of short-term lease extension (likely brokered by MLB), San Jose should be ready to act if the A’s/MLB/Coliseum Authority can’t come to a deal. That may mean pulling some strings to make way for a temporary facility. If that’s what it takes, so be it. Aces Ballpark in Reno took a year to build. West Sacramento’s Raley Field took less than nine months and was planned to take only six months. San Jose should be prepared to act quickly on an MLB ruling, not the City’s strong suit.

My small SOS conundrum

I don’t know that this rises to the level of requiring a post. Here goes nothing.

You may have noticed over the past several weeks that events for the Save Oakland Sports booster group have shown up in the calendar. Normally the calendar is reserved for events such as City Council meetings, MLB owners meetings, and other generally newsmaking dates. Save Oakland Sports has made news recently by getting started, organizing, and planning or being involved with additional events such as next week’s fundraiser. That’s good, I encourage that sort of activity.

Yesterday, one of the principals for SOS asked me to link to an article in the Tribune that featured the group. It seemed more like a profile piece than something with real news or in-depth analysis, so I held off until I was asked again by the same individual, at which point I added the link to the 9/6 news post.

I’m a little concerned that I’m effectively providing free promotion and publicity to SOS, even though they’ve barely begun their work and aren’t newsmakers the same way a team owner, elected official, or league executive might be. I think I’ve given SOS plenty of coverage by attending and writing up a visit to one of the group’s meetings. SOS also has a link in the sidebar. That’s more than I can say for the Baseball Oakland and Baseball San Jose groups, whose output has generally been lacking and little more than talking points.

Moreover, SOS doesn’t operate in a fully public manner. While I attended SOS with no incident and Jeffrey has been invited to do the same, the group doesn’t post meeting minutes publicly, not even in a redacted or edited form. I was taken off SOS’s email list after some members felt that I couldn’t be trusted, though no one bothered to explain that to me until after I noticed it and mentioned the removal in a post.

From the beginning this site was built to analyze and report news. Should a booster group be given the space of a newsmaker when they, for the most part, don’t generate news? It may seem like splitting hairs, but I’m worried about setting a bad precedent. Given that one of the heads of SOS is a PR man, he or others can easily get column inches at one of the local papers, even though there’s no new story there. Should I link to every one of those stories? Should I put SOS items on the calendar even though we don’t know what’s happening? If a San Jose booster group had similar activities, should I treat them the same way out of a strained “equal time” sort of fairness? I’m uncomfortable with the idea of giving free pub to anyone more than is merited, and I’d like reader feedback.

FWIW – this is not about an extra effort that’s required to maintain the calendar or write a post. That’s minimal.

Post your opinion in the comments, and thanks in advance.

Useless site stats

I don’t usually share site statistics with anyone, mostly because I’m not actively monetizing this site so even I don’t look at them much. There is a subset of information that I consider interesting, even impressive, and I figured now is as good a time as any to put it out there.

During the month of May 2012:

  • Sites that most frequently linked here: Facebook (26.6%), Athletics Nation (17.6%), the old site (1.9%)
  • Number of countries that visited here: 78
  • Operating system share: Windows (53.8%), Mac OS X/iOS (33.2%), Linux (7.4%)
  • Browser share: Internet Explorer (24.6%), Safari (22.7%), Firefox (20.3%), Chrome (16.7%)
  • Referring search engines: Google (91.1%), Yahoo (5.2%), Bing (2.2%), Ask (0.3%)
  • The most frequent visitor was from: Boston
  • Most frequent length of stay: 30 seconds or less (70%)
  • Day of heaviest traffic: May 3 (the day of the Knauss/Clorox press conference)

Thanks to those of you who have been reading and spreading the word. I’ll keep doing this as long it takes.

Quick note about Twitter

We don’t advertise it much, but just in case you aren’t aware, we have a presence on Twitter: @newballpark. All articles are set to auto-tweet once published. Often I’ll retweet articles I find interesting, some of which I’ll write about and some I won’t. I also correspond with the Twitterverse on all subjects sports economics. If you want to be up-to-date, follow us on Twitter.

Now get back to work.

OT – Thoughts on the Oikos University tragedy

My brothers flew in for the weekend on Friday. There was a bachelor party, several excellent meals, immense fun ensued. I had the task of getting everyone everywhere on time, which I did. Included in that work was my having to pick up one brother at OAK at 2, then the other brother at SFO at 5. Fun, right? On Sunday one of them left, and today I drove the other back up to Oakland, where he was taking a cheap flight on Allegiant Air to Phoenix/Mesa.

Around the time we were packed and got on the road, a gunman entered a classroom at Oikos University near the Oakland Airport. The man, One Goh, is a 43-year-old former nursing student at the small, Christian school catering to the Korean-American community. As we neared the airport, we were listening to podcasts and The Game, so we had no idea what was happening as we approached. Seeing that we had some time before my brother’s flight, we took a detour to Nation’s in San Leandro for a burger and fries. Still, we had no clue what was going on until I pulled out my phone and started checking Twitter. There were several tweets about a gunman and lockdown, but little concrete information as the situation was evolving.

Eventually, Goh surrendered in Alameda after killing seven and wounding several others at the school. At no point were my brother or I in danger, yet I couldn’t help but have a strange feeling about what happened. After I dropped him off, I noticed a helicopter circling above the vicinity of the crime scene. I figured I should listen to the news to find out what happened. The feeling didn’t subside, and then I realized why: I’ve been through this before.

Most of my childhood was spent in Sunnyvale. It’s well known as a fairly sedate city, one of the safest of its size in the country. It’s also where one of the Bay Area’s most shocking mass murders occurred 24 years ago. On February 16, 1988, former ESL employee Richard Farley entered his former office with numerous guns, looking for a woman he was stalking. He shot and wounded her and killed seven others. He stopped when he requested a sandwich and drink from a sandwich shop kitty corner from the office. That sandwich shop was a Togo’s, where my twin brother (the bachelor party celebrant) worked a year later. For some time a few employees at the Togo’s coined the sandwich, a #9 hot pastrami, a “Shooter Special”. The shootings occurred a few miles from my junior high, and an even shorter distance from my younger brother’s elementary school.

In the summer of 1993, I was renting a townhouse with some college friends in Capitola. We frequently went to the beach, mixed up lots of bad drinks, and had little to worry about. Then, late on July 1, I got a call from a girl I was seeing at the time. She was back home in SF, and she was planning to come down for the 4th. Her voice was low and I sensed something was wrong, so I asked what was happening. It turned out that where her dad worked, 101 California Street, a gunman entered a law firm in the building and killed eight, then himself. My girlfriend’s dad was unharmed, but the ordeal and evacuation was very tense. I don’t know if she was looking for me to tell her that everything would be okay, and I distinctly remember being very silent and not knowing what to say. I felt that in 1988, and I felt it again on Monday. For what can you say about such senseless acts? About men who take being disgruntled to incomprehensibly lethal obsession? I just looked at the CNN homepage, and while the Oikos tragedy would’ve been the lead story a generation ago, it’s relegated to the sidebar, clearly not as important as the umpteenth GOP primary or further dissection of the Trayvon Martin killing.

Trib columnist Tammerlin Drummond laments the university and Oakland, which has now tallied its 34th homicide just 93 days into the calendar year. While Drummond makes clear that what happened Monday was an isolated incident and not part of Oakland’s normal cycle of violence, she admits that it will get thrown into the mix regardless, which is terrible for everyone due to the feeling of desensitization to Oakland’s plight. Drummond even brings up the possibility that the Oikos killings will cast a shadow over the Coliseum City project. That may or may not be true, but as I’ve noticed, these incidents can and often do happen in the safest and most unexpected places.

I wish I had something better to say. At this point in my life, I doubt I ever will. Well, there’s this: many of those killed were nursing students. The brother I dropped off on Monday, Chris, will be a nurse in two years. My twin brother, Caesar, is an occupational therapist. My cousin, Debbie, is finishing her nursing program. I am so proud of them for dedicating their lives to helping people. It doesn’t get acknowledged enough. I am so sad for the victims and their families, not just because of their personal loss, but also because it deprives the world of people who willingly dedicate themselves to help others. We need that as much as anything these days.

2014 revisited

Two weeks ago, we laid out the possibilities for the A’s as a team-in-limbo at the Coliseum for 2014. In today’s Trib, reporter Angela Woodall got comments from principals from Alameda County and Oakland, the A’s and Raiders. Try as I might to find a proper analogy for this increasingly awkward situation, I simply can’t. So we’ll go with the comments instead.

A’s President Mike Crowley said he sent what he considered a fair lease extension proposal in June that was met with a “convoluted” response from the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, which oversees the municipally owned complex.

“So that ended that conversation pretty quickly,” he said. “If we can’t work something out here, we’ll have to find somewhere else to play.

“There are not many options. But we have time. We’re here in 2012, and we’re here in 2013.”

Always eager to open mouth and insert foot, Ignacio De La Fuente “contributes” to the discussion:

“The reality is they’re the ones who have a timeline, not us,” said De La Fuente, referring to the 2013 deadline and the lack of alternatives to the O.co Coliseum in the Bay Area.

That’s strange. The A’s are the only ones with a timeline? Didn’t MLB want the A’s playing in a new venue by 2015? Comments like that and Mayor Jean Quan’s suggestion that Victory Court could be acquired and entitled by November 2014 (making a 2015 opening impossible) aren’t going to convince MLB that Oakland is really serious about this. Couple that with the ongoing discussions with the Raiders, and you get the sense that the A’s aren’t exactly the highest item on the priority list among the Oakland-based sports franchises.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Oakland has little incentive to renew the lease at terms similar to what the teams are paying now. Both teams pay around $1 million each season with some additional revenue thrown in for good measure, not nearly enough to take care of the $20 million in debt service (equally split between Oakland and Alameda County), not to mention the $500k in field conversion costs. The Coliseum Authority is right to angle for more money to cover debt service and costs, but they can’t get too aggressive. If they try to hike the rent to $5 million or more, the A’s will have to consider whether that’s a good deal as opposed to the opportunity cost of improving an existing stadium somewhere else. They’ve already done it at Buck Shaw, adding 3,500 seats and improving the facilities for $4 million. My guess at this point is $3 million for either the A’s or Raiders for 2014, and an option year if new stadium complications arise. That’s a fair amount given the market conditions, which are favorable for Oakland in the short term but not favorable in the long term.

The Raiders are a factor in this as well. Movement in the direction of a new stadium somewhere as opposed to improving the existing Coliseum makes temporarily sharing the Coliseum less impactful for the Raiders. At least the Raiders have an existing NFL stadium option should talks sour with the Coliseum Authority: Candlestick Park. In 2010 the 49ers extended their lease at The ‘Stick through 2014, allowing for a smooth transition to Santa Clara if all of the funding lines up properly. Coliseum City would displace both teams for at least two years (perhaps on a staggered schedule), making it even more difficult to accommodate the A’s and Raiders sufficiently.

Several Oakland officials, including former City Attorney John Russo, have said that the A’s have misrepresented themselves and their intentions when getting the last two extensions signed in 2007 and 2010. That argument never held water to me, because there was always a termination fee that the A’s had to pay if they left Alameda County. If that isn’t an acknowledgement of the situation, I don’t know what is. The Raiders have a similar clause in their lease, yet they aren’t getting vilified nearly as much for talking to/about Santa Clara and Los Angeles. I suppose it all comes down to what the parties care about – getting a deal done as opposed to having good optics about potential deals. If both teams leave Oakland, optics won’t matter one iota and the chickens, in the form of voters, will come home to roost. Then again, maybe not? I suspect there is a large percentage of the populace in Oakland that will be thankful that the City didn’t get screwed Mt. Davis-style all over again. That day of reckoning is drawing closer.