Hacks don’t understand the competitive window

The Chronicle’s Scott Ostler is signing onto the claim that the A’s recent on-field success serves to foil Lew Wolff’s plans to move to San Jose. He’s not the first. The Trib’s Monte Poole and the Press Democrat’s Lowell Cohn have done the same since the All Star Break. The reasoning is that the way the A’s are playing, it proves with complete certainty that the A’s can, in fact, compete in Oakland.

Anyone who has read most Bay Area sports columnists over the years could see this dime store analysis coming. It’s more than ludicrous, it’s absolutely fallacious. Think about it. These writers are basing the viability of a franchise on 17 games. 17 games! Look, I’m the last person to rain on this parade and I’m loving every minute of this run, but to base any long-term decision-making on 17 games is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. The sample size is incredibly small. Over the next 1-4 years, it may prove to be the start of a trend. Then again, it could be a blip. If the A’s fade in August-September the same way the Mets and Indians are now, what does it mean for success in Oakland? Nothing, because there’s no real causality there.

If we’re going to look at any trends, it’s the team’s 40-24 (.625) record with Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup. The team was pretty bad in May, largely due to Cespedes not being in the lineup for lengthy stretches. It didn’t help that Josh Donaldson and Daric Barton were black holes regularly manning the corners, while Josh Reddick was left to carry the lineup in the Cuban defector’s absence. Now with better contributions from numerous fringe and platoon players plus continued health (knock on wood) for Cespedes, the A’s are doing just enough offensively to win games.

None of this is very related to the A’s long term success. Cespedes is locked up through 2015 unless Billy Beane flips him for prospects. Yet Beane is keenly aware of the organization’s continued inability to develop quality hitters, so unless rivals offer Billy the moon for either Cespedes or Reddick, the heart of the order isn’t going anywhere. Beyond that, there are questions about Cespedes’s durability. The Cuban baseball season is only 90 games long, and Yoenis has had little nicks already and a tight hamstring halfway through his rookie campaign. If Cespedes runs into a lengthy injury spell like what befell Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in Minnesota, the A’s will be screwed moving forward unless certain hitters on the farm (Grant Green, the just-injured Michael Choice, other recent draftees) make miraculous Sean Doolittle or Dan Straily-style transformations into solid contributors.

We’ve talked a bit about the competitive window every have-not team faces. Refuse to acknowledge it at your peril. San Diego, Arizona, and Colorado all had brief, 1 or 2-year runs in the past few years. When injuries hit or players didn’t perform up to potential, all three teams sold off key players in order to rebuild for the next competitive window. The same just happened to the Miami Marlins, who nearly doubled their 2011 payroll in hopes of bringing in bigger crowds and revenue. With the team fighting to keep itself out of the NL East cellar, the Marlins are looking to sell off vital pieces. Already Hanley Ramirez has been traded to the Dodgers, and Josh Johnson may be the next one out of town. The aforementioned Twins had a bright future prior to the 2011 season, then Mauer was lost for half the season and Morneau struggled to recover from concussion symptoms. Now they have no choice but to rebuild, starting with a trades of Morneau and Francisco Liriano that many are anticipating in the future. Competitive windows for many mid- and small-market teams all were slammed shut in a hurry.

For the have-not teams, the competitive window means there’s little room for error, practically no room to absorb expensive mistake contracts. The Dodgers had plenty of flexibility to absorb Ramirez’s contract. The Yankees somehow got Seattle to pay for part of Ichiro’s contract even though the Pinstripers sent back a middling starter and a guy who had already been traded or cut six times in his short career. The A’s have a league-low $55 million payroll, which gives them the flexibility to pick up a one-year rental. It doesn’t give them the flexibility to start trading for guys with long, bad contracts, like Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins. Brett Anderson is due for some raises in the coming years. Reddick is sure to become a Super Two thanks to his breakout season – which will give him a hefty raise. He could very well be locked up through his arbitration years this offseason. Cespedes will be paid nearly $30 million over the next three years. Beane and David Forst will have to decide which young pitchers to keep and which ones to use as trade pieces. Kurt Suzuki already has a bad contract and he’s worth pennies on the dollar. By 2014, the A’s could easily be committed to spend $40-50 million on just 4-5 guys. It’ll help that new national TV money is on the way, but it doesn’t mean that fiscal responsibility will go out the window.

Sustaining the competitive window will depend greatly on picking the right guys to commit to (remember the Chavez-Tejada debate from a decade ago?) and those cornerstone guys staying healthy. If not, all bets are off. It won’t prove that the A’s should leave Oakland posthaste. What it would prove is that the A’s again are a big-market team that is forced to operate like a small-market team because of revenues from playing in Oakland. The current CBA calls for the A’s to get off revenue sharing by 2016 as long as the team stays in the Bay Area, however the stadium solution occurs. That’s language from on high saying that having the A’s in the Coliseum is not what MLB has in mind, no matter how good this run is or how many pies are thrown. The Lodge doesn’t care about 17 games. They care about the long view.

54 thoughts on “Hacks don’t understand the competitive window

  1. I can’t speak for Ostler & Cohn as I don’t read them. But if they are operating like Monte Poole on the A’s-Oakland-SJ issue, this is no surprise. Monte Poole wants the A’s to stay in Oakland, period. Facts & reality mean little to him on this issue. He will twist, ignore facts, use contrived efforts to push his A’s in Oakland agenda. Now an effort to connect win % over a handful of weeks to financial/competitive soundness (and MLB will agree?)? That is egregious. Seriously, how over the top one must have to twist their thinking to put forth an argument like this is astounding. The fact that the other two writers wrote the same thing means they must be operating under the same blinding bias (that’s the better of the two explanations — the other being idiocy).
    I’d like to say this one takes the cake…..but past twisting of the facts to push the agenda makes me unsurprised by the new one. Hey, at least the A’s are winning and this is the new bologny. The old bologny from a month ago of LW drove the franchise into the ground was getting stale.

  2. Ostler, Poole and Cohn don’t actually spend much time thinking through the dynamics of the window, thats why these insipid columns keep posting up. To show how uninformed, Slusser commented that a bout a local columnist after Hicks’ walk-off. I saw the video on CSN and it was Cohn:

    “Things got weirder from there. A local columnist informed Hicks that he’s not in the media guide (Hicks was a waiver addition right before the season) and asked if that bothers Hicks (it does not). Then he asked Hicks numerous questions basically just to establish who, exactly, Hicks is.”

    Its why I pay little heed to columnists and just read the news.

  3. Newhouse, Dickey, Poole, Cohn, Ostler and Ratto are all “hacks” and lousy Journalists because they don’t agree that the only hope for the future of the Oakland Athletics’ franchise, is a move to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?
    Also, Oakland A’s fans who want to keep their team in Oakland are “flat-earthers”?
    Don Knauss and the Tripp guy are also under the same spell as the Oakland-only’ers?
    Maybe we are all smoking bath salts ….
    “you” can believe whatever you choose … but I know that Lew Wolff’s obsession with WWCF and Selig anti-O.co comments are not helping the walk up ticket sales.
    loving this run btw.

  4. When did Chambers say Cisco would no longer be sponsoring the A’s ballpark?…Remember the huge, huge problems Citi Bank was having? And there was a call by Congress for Citi Bank to drop its sponsorship of the Mets new stadium? So what’s the name of the new stadium? Still Citi Field, no?…Not sure where these writers are coming from. The A’s are still ranked 28th in attendance out of 30 teams. And that’s a number skewed high because the Yankees, Giants and Red Sox already have been in town. If anything, the good play on the field being met by still-poor attendance perhaps proves the A’s will always struggle in Oakland…

  5. @David – They’re hacks for lazy writing. 300+ words, probably up against a deadline. Clearly this was not one of Ostler’s better efforts.

    @Dinosaur JR/pjk – Keep the discussion on topic.

    @Nicosan – LOL

  6. A lot of good points here but I wouldn’t compare the A’s to the Twins, Rockies or Dbacks of a few years ago… none of those teams were built on the type of young pitching the A’s have under control. Pads maybe but then they didn’t have some of the offensive pieces the A’s have in place. It’s a lot harder to have things collapse under your feet quickly when you’re built the way the A’s are now. That said I agree with the over all point of the post.

  7. I agree with a lot of what you said David

    While I understand the A’s need a new park for revenue reasons, it’s not really going to help the casual fan much at all. The Colosseum is a perfectly adequate place to take your family to watch a game. Good prices on available tickets along with public transit and freeway access. Yeah Mt Davis takes away from the view and the concessions and walkways are very outdated…. but we’re not talking Candlestick here. Both the A’s owners and the media have spent so much time trashing the facility it’s no wonder people aren’t showing up. Let this team stay on a roll for a year or two and you’ll see attendance numbers jump to a respectable level. Personally I hope people don’t discover what a great value an A’s game is and keep going to that over priced circus tent across the bay… but with the way the G-men are tightening the purse strings it’s only a matter of time before the band wagoners start jumping ship.

  8. re: Let this team stay on a roll for a year or two and you’ll see attendance numbers jump to a respectable level.

    …The A’s won their division in 2002 and 2003 and still finished only 18th and 17th in attendance, respectively. Better than where they are now but still not very good for a team that won 103 and 96 games respectively. It was still bottom half attendance-wise despite the excellent play on the field.

  9. @Sactownbull – What’s respectable? To be in the middle of the pack for attendance as of 2011, the A’s would’ve had to average 30k per game. They never came close to that during the Moneyball era, and only hit that during the Bash Brothers era. By that measure, A’s attendance is a long ways from being respectable.

  10. @pjk

    The Giants had Bonds at his peak, AT&T was still pretty new then and the economy much better too. The Giants WS win is still carrying them but I see a crash coming very very soon. If the A’s are fielding a winning team full of exciting young players while the Giants are asking close to $30 for bleacher seats to watch a 500 team, you will see a shift. As I said, selfishly I kind of don’t want to see this happen. I love rolling up on game day and picking up seats behind the plate for the same price the Giants are charging to sit by a foul pool. You will always have the seen and be seen crowd at AT&T as well as the hard core fans… but winning and great prices are a hard combo to ignore for the fan looking to take his son to a game.

  11. @Marine Layer

    About 2 mil is what I’d call respectable for a team playing in a non-destination park. That’s around 24K a game and would put them right there with teams like the Reds, DBacks, Braves & White Sox… and ahead of the Tampas and Torontos of the baseball world. Are the A’s going to draw 3 million in their current yard… of course not. But considering the operation costs the A’s would be doing pretty well if they can get back above the 2 mi point for a season.

  12. 2 million is not all that great a number. The White Sox finished just above 2 million last year and were ranked 20th in attendance. Are the A’s supposed to be forever consigned to bottom-level attendance and revenues? If moving the team a whole 35 miles takes them into the top half of attendance and revenues, what’s the justification for not doing it? Because the name of the city on the road jerseys gets replaced?

  13. @pjk

    I’m not arguing against the A’s moving man. I understand the business side of this… I’m just pointing out it’s not necessarily going to help the average fan all that much. I just laid down some serious money to keep my 49er season tickets going into the new Stadium. Do I understand that they had to get out of Candlestick…. of course. But a lot of what I’m paying for in the new stadium isn’t really going to offset paying thousands of dollars in SBLs and the doubling of my season ticket price.

    It’s also a little dishonest to tarp off seats that used to be among the cheapest in the park and then compare the numbers to stadiums that offer a wider variety of price options.

    So while I understand the need for a new stadium… I’m not going to spend a bunch of time worrying about something that’s going to end up getting deeper in my pockets when it finally does happen.

  14. The A’s already have $2 seats. How much cheaper are they supposed to go? The San Jose Giants minor league team charges more than that (although there are lots of free tickets available if you go to the right places) Removing the tarps only makes sense if the A’s are selling out the bottom two decks and turning away people who might have sat in the now-tarped section. Are they doing that? No. It’s not even close. It’s tens of thousands of un-tarped empty seats on most nights. And how much does selling a $2 seat help to pay Cespides’ $9 million salary? Not much…

  15. A’s win? Ownership is lying to us- they can compete in Oakland.
    A’s lose? Ownership is running the team into the ground on purpose.
    Lew can’t catch a break.

  16. @pjk

    You’re trying too hard man. Again, yes I know they need a new stadium. But to throw out a $2 ticket only available on Wednesday afternoons when everyone’s at work isn’t really discrediting my statement about the availability of cheap tickets . Colorado has $4 tickets available every game…. The Pirates $8 and $5 kids tickets every game, Reds $8 & $5, Braves, $10 & 7, Dodgers $10 & 8…. and so on. The A’s run some great deals no doubt but the only game in game out seat that comes close to those prices are in the narrow slice of the upper deck where they removed the tarps. Personally if i’m going to sit up there I want to be able to spread out a little and not be jammed in. The best deals are the 4 packs on fridays & field level…. where I usually sit. I mean you can’t beat $30 to sit behind the plate. But the A’s play in one of the most economically depressed cities in America… for a lot of people that live close by a $30 seat might as well be $100. If the A’s took the tarps off at least have the upper deck and sold all those seats for $6-10 a game you would at least have a fair comparison as it relates to numbers in some of those other stadiums.

  17. http://www.csnbayarea.com/baseball-oakland-athletics/athletics-talk/New-ballparks-dont-produce-wins?blockID=746043&feedID=2539
    Ratto comments on the subject, as well. I don’t think anyone in their right mind can claim a new ball yard is not necessary, but it Wolff and Fischer keep getting called out like this they should analyze their possible bad PR decisions. Established professionals in their field, like these columnists are, generally don’t bag on teams ad nauseam unless something seems inept or amiss.

  18. Sactown: You’re saying the A’s should take off the tarps to appeal to the economy crowd. How does that help the A’s compete against teams with payrolls 2 to 4 times what theirs is? Not much. It’s major league professional baseball and you want them to fill half the ballpark with minor league-priced seats. The Giants certainly don’t do that..

  19. re: Established professionals in their field, like these columnists are,

    …these “established professionals” from Frisco and the East Bay simply do not want the A’s going to San Jose. Period. Have any of them offered a plan to pay for a $500 million ballpark in Oakland absent public funding and with corporate support historically poor? Other than Wolff and Fischer contributing a ballpark on their own dime? Nope.

  20. It seems that the main point of Ostler’s piece was about breaking up this year’s team, and if Wolff did that, he would be seen as intentionally doing so in order to further the SJ plan. That seems like a valid string of reasoning.

  21. @pjk

    Whoa now pjk. Slow down here…. I’m simply answering the part about 2 mil per year and how it compares with some of the teams both of us mentioned. I’m going to say this for the 3rd and final time… yes I know they need a new stadium and/or increased revenue streams. You keep trying to force me into an argument I’m not making.

    If they took some of the tarps down or offered those back bleacher seats for game in game out prices comparable to some of those teams I listed, and the team stayed competitive, I think you would see respectable middle of the pack attendance. I never said that it was going to allow them to roll out a $150 mil payroll. I don’t mind the back and forth but we got to at least be on the same topic here.

    • @Sactownbull – How is MLB supposed to be convinced to keep the team in Oakland when you’re arguing that Oaklanders can’t afford generally affordable tickets?

  22. @Mark N.

    I just have a problem with a writer throwing out a hypothetical and goes on to comment on something that has not happened. I see this kind of writing all the time and it drives me nuts.

    Of course the A’s have a history of moving players… but the reality is there hasn’t been a window this big with this many talented & promising players under control during Lou’s tenure as owner. So nobody really knows how they will play this out… crying wolf (no pun) before the sheep are even out of the barn is nothing but sensationalism.

    • @ Sacbulls

      reality is there hasn’t been a window this big with this many talented & promising players under control during Lou’s tenure as owner.

      How soon we all forget 6 years ago where the likes of Kendall, Kotsay, Haren, Ellis, Street etc. were all at/near their primes. Yet, when the A’s tried to go for it again in 2008 (Holiday anyone?), they failed miserably and languished for years with people still regretting the CarGo and A.Eithier trades…

  23. @Marine Layer


    Where have I said MLB needs to make the A’s stay in Oakland…? This is getting a little ridiculous. Somehow me saying the A’s can draw a respectable 2.2 – 2.5 mil while the fans enjoy baseball at a fair price has me in the camp of those blocking the team’s move to San Jose.

    I’m simply saying the Colosseum isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be and is still an adequate place to watch a game… especially if the team is entertaining. Somewhat recent history shows that’s exactly the range the team has drawn when it’s won. If they can draw 2 mil with a 2006 team made up of vets and guys leaving in the next year or so what can the do with a young team that can stick around for a while? We can argue over whether or not 2.5 mil is a good number for where they play but that doesn’t mean I think 2 mil + will solve all their problems.

  24. Adequate may have sufficed in an era where salaries were below $100 million, but given the fact that a new venue can swing a big difference advertising revenue, TV revenue, and banking more money for events at the site like concerts, the A’s need to have their own stadium and own it outright. They make little at the Coliseum in the scheme and need to get their own place.

  25. Sactownbull wrote about the A’s/Coliseum:

    Good prices on available tickets along with public transit and freeway access.

    Shouldn’t that be good enough? It already is affordable and the team is exciting. At some prices the A’s are practically handing out tickets. If a self-identified fan isn’t going now, he’s just looking for an excuse not to go.

  26. @Anon

    Kendall & Kotsay were in their primes? I don’t think anyone would agree with that. Kendall was on his last legs and Kotsay was dealing with a bad back. Ellis & Haren maybe but for the most part that team didn’t have 1/10th the young talent this team does. Zito was gone the next year and the middle of the order was made up of Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley. Can’t see the connection here man.

  27. @Marine Layer

    We are talking about a couple thousand people a game more In the context of what we were talking about… which again brings them up to the range of the other teams that were mentioned. And let’s not forget we are right at the beginning of this turn around. It can take months or even a year before people bored the bandwagon.

    • @Sactownbull – 22k is now respectable to you? We should do better. Much better. Tickets are plenty affordable already. Many fans don’t go except on Wednesdays for the $2 seats, evidence of which is clear when looking around the stadium on Wednesdays. Fact is that people don’t see the value as it is. They are making their opinions heard with their ticket purchasing choices. I’ve advocated getting rid of the $2 promotions and have lower regularly-priced seats across the board. I’d rather go that route than opening the upper deck again and selling 10,000 more $2 seats to people who continue to not see the value in A’s baseball.

  28. @Nicosan

    agree…. but that doesn’t mean we can’t go out and enjoy the team where they are now instead of this insentient fixation on a new park. I understand why they need to move but there are positives from a fans point of view that will go away once they get a new yard. I’m just saying enjoy this while you can.

  29. @Sactownbull, thats the thing, all these people that are open to San Jose ARE going to games. Hell Im from Central California a 3-hour plus drive away and I go any chance I get. ML is saying that despite all the Carrots that the A’s dangle to get fans in the immediate area the seats, those folks aren’t coming. You know how much a “cheap” ticket is to Dodger Stadium or CitiField? its not $2. Also, the Coliseum is a 34k sell out, on Saturday and Sunday, with the biggest team in professional sports in town, you would think they would do a bit better than what they got, including those carrots. Thats not adequate by any measure of what baseball attendance is today. Perhaps the NBA yes, but not MLB.

  30. @Marine Layer

    “I’ve advocated getting rid of the $2 promotions and have lower regularly-priced seats across the board”

    Not a bad idea. But any way you want to slice this, Wolff’s idea of trapping the upper deck to create demand has failed miserably.

    Bottom line is if the team wins for a period of time fans will come. But we’re fooling ourselves if we think this is just about attendance figures. It’s about corporate sponsors, luxury boxes and higher priced tickets. None of that is going to make my experience as a fan more enjoyable. Sure you’re going to get some perks and might keep a few more players… but it’s not going to come at the expense of things a lot of us are taking for granted now.

  31. @Sactownbull- Your arguments are flawed for the reasons below.

    -No matter how good the A’s are and how bad the Giants are the A’s will not get good attendance, the fans will not come because they cannot afford it period. A new ballpark in Oakland does not solve this problem. A new ballpark in San Jose solves this problem and then some because of simple demographics.

    -You failed to mention the recession and how its severely depressed the Oakland region. The A’s pre-recession did not get fans even when they were good. Now you expect them to win now and get fans to show up? Wow…..

    -How many new ballparks have opened up since 2002? Let’s count them out…New York (2), Philadelphia, San Diego, Minnesota, Miami, Washington, Kansas City (major renovation), St. Louis, Cincinnati. How are the A’s going to compete in overall attendance across the board when the competition has stiffened big time? Forget about the Giants winning the WS 2 years ago across the Bay.

    -What are we taking for granted now? The A’s playing in the last shared NFL/MLB stadium in the country? The fact that the A’s cannot keep their own players past their arbitration years? The fact we have to travel to the “hood” to watch a game?

    In conclusion, the Coliseum is not even close to being called “adequate” as you put it. It is the biggest dump in all of MLB 12 miles away from one of the top ballparks in all of MLB. I am tired of seeing the A’s suffer and let their players go become All-Stars for other teams.

  32. @SacBulls – “But any way you want to slice this, Wolff’s idea of trapping the upper deck to create demand has failed miserably.” wtf – after the top teams in the AL/MLB came through town, you’re going to try to play the tarp card? Troll…

  33. Based on history, attendance does not typically respond immediately unless there is an overwhelming change. Case-in-point: The Phillies averaged 22.5k for the seasons after their last WS appearance in Veterans. Once they got Citizen’s Bank it jumped to over 40k that first season. The next 2 seasons in this brand new park produced no playoffs and attendance dropped to about 33k, despite a .534 winning % during those 2 seasons. The next year it jumped to 38k because they finally made it to the playoffs. The next year? 42k when they won the WS. IMHO, people are focusing on “Oakland” and attendance without looking at everything else that drives interest in a team. This would not only include the team’s players and performance, but marketing, stadium amenities, ownership support, and many other things. There is mention here on this site that these columnists are using a short-term spike in wins as a platform to argue against a move to SJ. I would argue that these same posters are doing the same thing in reverse by using this same winning streak as an opportunity to bash “Oakland” attendance. We should be doing much better because of the last month’s performance? Maybe, maybe not. Yet, once again I think we should look at the big picture when analyzing attendance. I believe the attendance will increase if this team continues to win because that is what history shows. Will it get to 30k? Not likely unless they win the WS. I don’t believe this has anything to do with “Oakland.” Rather, I think this is still highly correlated to the above-mentioned garnering of interest in a team by the people who run the business itself. As far as tarps, note I hate this argument. However, people like to say that the stadium would look even less full as their argument for them. I would counter that big games would add 10,000 more seats available for sale. This not only includes the Giants, Sox, and Yankees, but also big games if the A’s are in contention. If there are 20 games like this in a given season this could potentially add 200,000 to the total, thus making a 1.8 million season now with tarps go to 2 million, 2 mil to 2.2 mil, and so on. The attendance averaged about a 58% capacity during ’00-’05, or 26k. The tarps went up in ’06 when they made it to the LCS and the capacity that year jumped to 69%. Mathematically, had the tarps been off this comes to over 30k. I say this because I am a life-long fan and attended 25 games on average pre-tarp and that 3rd deck was extremely popular. Oh, and the argument that “Oakland” fans can’t afford tickets is a preposterous statement. Lest we talk about the Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro Hills, Piedmont, Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette, etc. and etc. and etc. Sorry for the long post.

  34. @Sid

    “You failed to mention the recession and how its severely depressed the Oakland region”

    I Did? What was this then?

    “But the A’s play in one of the most economically depressed cities in America… for a lot of people that live close by a $30 seat might as well be $100.”

    You want to disagree with me fine…. but at least take the time to read what I actually wrote.

    And I’m sorry you are so put out by going to the “hood” to see a game. I’m sure that stretch between 880 and the parking lot is a pretty scary 30 seconds to drive through.

  35. @Anon

    You’re calling me a troll? Am I seeing this right? Wow…. not sure what pissed you off so much. I mean we can’t disagree with the idea of tarping the upper deck without resorting to name calling? I’m not floating some crazy conspiracy or anything. The reason they were put up is pretty well known and accepted. I don’t think Wolff has even tried to hide it.

    • You’re calling me a troll? Am I seeing this right? Wow…. not sure what pissed you off so much. I mean we can’t disagree with the idea of tarping the upper deck without resorting to name calling? I’m not floating some crazy conspiracy or anything. The reason they were put up is pretty well known and accepted. I don’t think Wolff has even tried to hide it.

      From your questionable stances as well as some irrational arguments without data to support it and sensationalizing what generally the Oakland camp would like to rag on, yes, i unequivocally would call you a troll. we’ve been down these paths quite a bit through the years….Colisuem area: “depressed area”, $2 tickets/free parking – best value in sports, effects of the tarp, etc. Your own arguments is that you would like to selfishly see it stay affordable (don’t know why since you have Niners STs), but that goes against getting the A’s competitive again in a landscape where we have the Angels / Rangers as the new Yanks/Sox in our own division…..

  36. @Columbo

    Great post… hopefully you won’t get called a troll.

  37. “The attendance averaged about a 58% capacity during ’00-’05, or 26k. The tarps went up in ’06 when they made it to the LCS and the capacity that year jumped to 69%. Mathematically, had the tarps been off this comes to over 30k. I say this because I am a life-long fan and attended 25 games on average pre-tarp and that 3rd deck was extremely popular.”


    @Columbo – You’re suggesting that had the tarps not been put up that the paid attendance still would have been at 69% capacity? Had the tarps not been put up the average paid attendance would have been over 30K? I think you need to reassess that logic. I am a season ticket holder who attended more than 25 games pre tarp and currently. I don’t think you understand just how expensive running a venue really is. The staffing for security, concession and cleanup is ridiculously expensive. The 3rd deck was closed off because it wasn’t paying for itself, it was bleeding money. That’s not an ownership conspiracy, it’s just that simple.

  38. @ Burton – To answer your question, Yes, I do think the capacity would have been higher. 69%? I’m not saying exactly that % but they finally made it out of the LDS in ’06 so naturally the attendance would have likely been higher IMHO. You’re right. I don’t own an MLB team and haven’t looked at the books for concessions on the 3rd deck. Your quote: “The 3rd deck was closed off because it wasn’t paying for itself, it was bleeding money. That’s not an ownership conspiracy, it’s just that simple.” The year before, a non-playoff year, they averaged 2.1 million. Do you happen to have specifics regarding the “bleeding money” in the 3rd deck concessions and security? I would like to look at those figures.

  39. Let me make 2 corrections. 1) I meant to say that the year before the LCS they HAD 2.1 mil, not “averaged.” 2) The attendance increased each year when they made it to the LDS from ’00 to ’03. There was a slight drop during the next 2 non-playoff seasons. Then in ’06, when the tarps went up, the “average” per game actually went down. I’m arguing that, had the 3rd deck been open, this number would have likely gone higher simply because it was an extremely popular area and the A’s were in 1st place. Do you not think that many people, as conventional “wisdom” goes, that “less-affluent” folks would have bought the cheaper 3rd deck tickets that year, thus raising the average attendance per game? I do believe that. Now, I will address your argument regarding the cost of having the 3rd deck open. If, in fact, the 3rd deck was a money-loser to ownership I would submit that closing it was appropriate. Since I don’t know the actual numbers I can’t agree with that. If I’m shown figures that indicate red then I would be in agreement. I just can’t see how adding 200,000 or more fans in a season would be a money-loser considering many of the workers are minimum-wage earners (you have to include all concessions earned). I’ll tell you this: If I was an owner with an obvious stake in my business, I would want all the fans I could get and I would promote this team through marketing and promotions. I would certainly not denigrate my assigned area. I would pump them up so as to encourage them to come out to the yard, despite losing seasons, unknown players, and shortcomings of the stadium. I might even run marketing campaigns against the competition across the bay. I haven’t seen this but that’s just me. If you do have figures confirming that having the 3rd deck open is a money-losing proposition I’d love to see it. Thanks in advance.

  40. @ Columbo – I have to make this short, since I am working now…but as some rebuttal to your arguments:

    – Re: History: Gnats (in the same locale) 97′, 00′, 02′. 03′. 10′ either went to the playoffs or WS and each proceeding year had attendance increase or the same (note 97′ was still at the ‘Stick). In 07′, A’s attendance actually declined by a few thousands after the ALCS. In general, as Jeffrey/ML has summarized in the past, winning does traditional cause attendance spikes, however given the A’s past sans a few select years, this is not the case. I can only add a passing evidence on the weekend games for the Yanks Series as small as it is.

    – Re: Tarp: While all we have is SSS and no evidence of actual $$$ figures, anecdotal evidence suggests that #1 – cheap seats does not warrant additional revenue (even people can’t even afford $10 seats, why would they spend any money in the first place at the park?) and #2 – the prevailing “sellouts” are not typically attended by A’s fans, but by the other teams (i.e. Yanks, Gnats, BoSox, etc.). Trying to artificially limit the amount in circulation would hopefully circumvent those trends and of course, also increase demand (remember, this was during the timeframe where the A’s were trying to make a “reloaded” run from 06′-08’ period.
    Re: Marketing / promos: I don’t know about you but i see an abundance of marketing down here in the SB along 880 as well as on the Merc and other places. Alongside with that, the allure of family packs, giveaways, free parking, etc. is enticing enough where the money spent on advertisement would go directly to the consumers: us. If people are still complaining that $2 tickets is not good enough, then $!@#, I don’t think anything is going to get them out to the ballpark sans an all new venue.

  41. @ Columbo – I should not have used the term bleeding money. But the amount of revenue generated in the 3rd deck that actually found its way to the on the field product, or team operations was minimal at best if it existed at all. The 3rd deck needs to be looked at from an 81 game stand point. It was only occupied over the last decade for dollar tickets, fireworks, and marquee matchups. Ask yourself how many of those tickets were bought and paid in advance. The A’s, having to rely on walkups creates staffing problems that should not be glossed over.


    The original statement was of capacity percentage was having fun with numbers. Yes, had the tarps been off and the similar percentage of people shown up the A’s would have drawn more. To make the assumption that the same percentage of people would have shown up, and attendance would have been over 30k base on the tarp excludes many more important factors. That’s the whole problem with the Scott Osler, Lowell Cohn articles, the biggest issues are over simplified, and poor comparisons are made. It’s like me saying the A’s drew 2.9 million in 1990 with a payroll just over $20 million. Adjusted for inflation, that’s just over $35 million today. Based on that, can I assume the A’s will draw 2.9 million? Of course not. Ostler and company leave out too many other factors when they complain about ownership. Too many factors are left out when people talk about the harm that was done when the 3rd deck was tarped off. If it was cost effective and added profitability to the club, it would be open. My point is this, the 3rd was nearly as popular as some people say it was, if was popular the A’s wouldn’t have had to rely on some many walkups to occupy it. Making the argument that more people would attend games if the supply of seating was greater than it is now concerns me. It sounds like A’s fans want everything on the cheap. Take that statement, add in the already small revenue stream, the need for a new stadium, the desire to keep players etc. then take a close look at everything. I don’t expect anyone, no matter how rich they are to lose money on my entertainment. Closing off the third deck was not about scaring off the fan base, it was about seeing what kind of product, and yes what kind of fan base, Oakland really has.

  42. Are San Diego, Arizona, Colorado and Miami all have-nots despite having nice ballparks?

  43. @Ted – Yes. Look at the Forbes revenue figures. There are teams that make $230 million in annual revenue or more, and others who essentially make $200 million or less.

  44. @ Burton – I’m not sure where to begin. I really don’t want to get into a long drawn-out argument over this like there has been before. Saperstein’s letter is filled with inaccuracies to put it mildly. He states that the A’s didn’t sell out the WS….period. No elaboration. Really? Did they not sell out ANY games, 1 game, 2 games? Moreover, he says no other team has ever done this in MLB history. If he did his fact-checking, there are numerous examples of WS games not being sold out and I will mention just one. BAL was up 3-1 over CIN in the 1970 WS and the 5th and final game that BAL won had 45,341 in attendance when the day before they had 53,007. That’s just one example. Another thing Saperstein says is Haas lost $10-$15 mil per year. Per year? Again, is it $10 mil or $15 mil because that is a huge difference? If he doesn’t know the figure I’m guessing he doesn’t know period. You don’t have to believe me but I have it on good authority that Haas made money on his A’s investment. Yes, there were lean years but, just like any cyclical investment, he made money and certainly didn’t lose that amount of money Saperstein is claiming. Then he starts talking about population growth and vibrancy. Vibrancy? Let’s just say Oakland has some pretty cool vibrancy and that’s not just my personal assessment. I could go on but I won’t. I’m glad you posted that letter because, to me anyway, that shows an agenda straight from the top that was filled with inaccuracies. I have stated all along on this board that I am not anti-SJ one iota. I have always maintained that, should Oakland legitimately prove to be unworkable, then so be it. Legitimately, I want to stress. If so then it is what it is. Yes, there are pro-Oak people who crave conspiracy theories and use them to further their own agendas but I have to admit that it goes both ways here. This has become an Oak vs SJ thing with both sides using fallacies and, dare I say, propaganda to support their own agendas. It has always sucked but is sucks even more now that the team is potentially in contention. All I have to say is Go Oakland A’s; win the f’ing WS to shut the cross-bay “fans” up. Please. Now.

  45. It is just a shame that Miami and San Diego fans and taxpayers were sold a bill of goods by the owners.

  46. While were on the topic of the A’s trying to figure balance immediate success with the future, for those who gripe about continually trading our top players will like to hear that there are actually some untouchable players Beane will not trade:

    “We have some young players that are absolutely untouchable,” Beane said. “And I’ve rarely said that—even internally. I almost never say we can’t talk about somebody. Usually, my feeling is that everybody can be discussed.</blockquote?

    See this on TKs blog, which will also be posted in the Merc tomorrow:


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