Clock Is Ticking, Says Manfred

After he threatened to move the A’s from Oakland to Las Vegas in October, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred pumped the brakes during the Winter Meetings this week. Asked about the state of the A’s, Manfred reverted to good cop mode:

“I think one of the things baseball has done well over decades is maintain its commitment to its current cities and we’d desperately like to maintain our commitment to the city of Oakland. I think the wild-card game and the excitement surrounding it shows there is a fan base there, but the clock is ticking. It’s time to get to it in terms of that stadium.”

It’s important to look at the A’s through the lens of Manfred’s entire tenure, not just through individual moves.

Throughout these five years, Manfred exercised patience with Oakland the market and Oakland the political sphere. The Warriors and Raiders announced their moves, giving the A’s the East Bay to themselves. If that was the goal, Manfred’s patience was warranted. However, emptying out a market couldn’t be the ultimate goal. A new ballpark in that market is the ultimate goal. The resistance to the Peralta site didn’t raise Manfred’s ire. The friction at the Coliseum did. Additional obstacles at Howard Terminal could do the same. Manfred’s “clock is ticking” comment is a gentle reminder that he can break out the move card at any time.

The question I have for you readers is, How much of a threat does Manfred actually hold? Vegas is a sore spot because they’ll be the home for the Raiders starting in 2020 and into the foreseeable future. Yet Vegas isn’t exactly ready to build a ballpark for the A’s, or the Dbacks, or anyone else for that matter. Vegas plays the classic stalking horse role at the moment, same as they did when Oscar Goodman was parading showgirls in front of The Lodge 15 years ago. A ballpark in Vegas would be predicated on the same ancillary development scheme being considered in Portland and yes, Oakland. In addition to the 2-3 years needed to build a domed ballpark, Vegas or Clark County or the State of Nevada would have to fire up the political machine to put together a land deal and financing scheme for the ballpark-cum-village, an effort that will surely take at least two more years.

Last week St. Petersburg’s Mayor shut down the Montreal-shared-custody Rays plan. Manfred responded by continuing to push the plan with far less fervor. Instead, he said that for now, the lease at Tropicana Field would continue to be honored. Of course, another city like Nashville or Charlotte could act as a new stalking horse for the Rays.

Manfred supported Stu Sternberg in the latter’s cockamamie scheme. Kriseman said no. Back to the drawing board. While some Rays fans are left dreaming of a new home for their team, the team itself remains status quo, for better and worse. They’re not going anywhere until after the 2027 season, unless a successor ballpark is built in the area. The A’s are in the same scenario until 2024. Just as threats to move the Rays ring hollow, so do the threats to move the A’s. Honestly everyone, don’t fall for it.

Enjoy the walkoffs

As the media starts to write their farewells to the Raiders, it’s important to remember that one team remains and should be here for years, if not decades, to come. It’s not time to scramble to make any deal just because the A’s are the only team left in town. Everyone – the team, the fans, the citizens of Oakland and Alameda County – deserves a fair deal. That means questions need to be asked. Questions that you might not want to ask. Questions that some of us haven’t even considered to ask yet. Maybe some of those questions won’t be fully answered. It won’t be for lack of trying. For now, enjoy the team that calls Oakland home. As we’ve seen with the other teams, nothing is forever.

9 thoughts on “Clock Is Ticking, Says Manfred

  1. Sort of related to this, I’m going to one of the major tailgate parties and possibly the game itself, for the final Raiders final game in Oakland. Would you like some sort of write up or feedback on the experience? I think you’ve written every article here. Is a guest article acceptable? Keep healing up Marine Layer, be well. Go A’s.

  2. Sigh…just build the ballpark at the Coliseum site already.

  3. How exactly does Oakland “deserve” a fair deal? Non-support has been the history of Oakland where the A’s are concerned. Wally Haas isn’t around any longer to lose 5 or 10 Million a year in order to put a winner on the field. What would have been fair would have been for the Athletics to leave Oakland before Charlie ever put them there. Oakland want the Athletics to leave, in fact they never wanted them in the first place. How many deals have to fall apart before you understand?

    • It only takes one Mount Davis – whose upper deck isn’t even being used for the final Raiders game this weekend – to show the litany of cities making bad decisions. Ever since then Oakland pols have vacillated between wanting to do everything to keep its teams and letting them go. There is a happy medium there somewhere.

  4. Oakland deserves a fair deal, as does Tampa. That being said, if/when credible alternatives arise (and I think they will eventually in Portland and Montreal, but not Vegas), I think the clock will start ticking a lot faster for both the A’s and the Rays.

  5. I find it quite amusing that Rob Manfred is at least somewhat irked at the A’s for their apparent slow progress towards getting a new ballpark deal done in Oakland. What I find most amusing is the fact that Manfred, and his predecessor Bud Selig, could have used their influence and authority for MLB to allow the A’s to be able to consider the entire Bay Area market as a potential lucrative site for a privately financed facility. Had they done just that, instead of restricting the A’s only to their East Bay designated territory, the A’s would likely be well on their way to building a new ballpark within the Bay Area market. It’s also very possible that this scenario could have put enough pressure on Oakland’s elected officials to get a new ballpark deal done at a near downtown Oakland site.

    • I am not sure how much pressure on Oakland’s elected officials would have mattered anyway, after all Lew Wolff was running the show at the time and he made it painfully obvious Oakland was not only not his preference, but he also left me ( and many others), with the impression that he have never built in Oakland regardless of circumstance’s.

      Oddly enough if the A’s were awarded San Jose back then, or even built in Fremont (if that wasn’t a ploy to get the Gians to negotiate on San Jose), the coliseum site would have been available for the Raiders (perfect for football), and perhaps all three East Bay teams could have still been playing in the Bay Area.

      Of course that would have been before Nevada backed up the brinks truck ($750 million), which would have ended any speculation about the Raiders posable future in their two tenured long home.

      • but he also left me ( and many others), with the impression that he “would” have never built in Oakland regardless of circumstance’s.

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