Oakland Can Get it Done

For years, the tiny-but-vocal anti-Oakland crowd has loudly questioned Oakland’s financial strength in getting a new ballpark deal done. But now that Oakland’s ongoing economic renaissance has been well-chronicled, and that argument doesn’t wash any longer, they are trying a new meme: Maligning Oakland’s politicians.

Just like every other scare tactic Wolff has tried, it won’t work. Because it’s not true.

Now, we’re not here to tell you that Oakland’s City Council and Mayor have been perfect, or that any of them is the second coming of Winston Churchill. They’re not. And yes, political mistakes have been made here and there.

However, our sincere response is: How does that make Oakland different from any other California city?

In fact, it’s important to remember all the great things Oakland’s leaders have accomplished in the face of these challenging times. For one, Oakland has been able to balance its budget, albeit while making some painful cuts, in contrast to several of its Bay Area neighbors who are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. And Oakland’s leaders have overseen the revitalization of downtown, starting with the new Fox Theater in Uptown.

Let’s look at other governments around the Bay Area. (Note: As citizens of Oakland, we’re especially sensitive to intercity trash-talking. That’s not our goal here. We’re just pointing out the facts that show Oakland’s leaders are no different or worse than most other cities’ politicians. In short, no disrespect intended.)

In San Francisco — a city that is about to lose the 49ers, it’s oldest and most iconic sports franchise — Mayor Ed Lee’s crisis this week is whether he should fire his new sheriff, who has just been sentenced to a day in jail after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of abusing his wife. Political dysfunction is nothing new to our neighbor across the bay: the S.F. mayor before Lee had to weather his very own sex scandal with his most trusted aide’s wife, and the mayor before that drew some unwanted attention from FBI investigators, but was never charged.

Meanwhile, other Bay Area cities are having major financial trouble or engaging in labor wars, including unions filing serious SEC complaints against one high-profile Bay Area mayor.

Are any of these cities’ pols better or smarter than Oakland’s leaders? Hardly.

And look at their history of local sports facilities. The story of how Candlestick Park’s site was chosen in the late 1950s is so shady it’s a great lesson in San Francisco City Hall cronyism. And don’t forget the ahem, controversial, 1997 election for a new 49ers stadium/mall that never got built at Candlestick Point.

And people are suggesting Oakland’s leaders can’t hold its own with that motley crew? C’mon, now.

It appears now that new owners are eager to buy the A’s in the near future. That’s great news. Once they do that, the biggest obstacles to keeping the A’s in Oakland and the Bay Area — Lew Wolff and John Fisher — will be gone. Once city leaders have a willing partner for the first time since 1995, getting that new A’s ballpark in Oakland that all A’s fans want will be much easier.

Oakland can get a new stadium deal done. And, as written above, the city’s underrated politicians more than hold their own against their counterparts around the Bay Area and the nation. Oakland’s a can-do city … then, now, and in the future.

Oakland is Bay Area’s Best Chance to Keep A’s

The seven tumultuous and disappointing years under owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher have divided the A’s fan base into three camps: the majority, who want the A’s to stay in Oakland; and two smaller groups who want a new stadium either in Santa Clara County or anywhere in the Bay Area. So, the Sunday report from the Chronicle’s Matier & Ross — who said two ownership groups want to buy the A’s and keep the team in Oakland — should be uniting the fractured fan base. After all, if Matier & Ross are right and Wolff’s San Jose plans keep falling through (as they appear to be), then the pro-Oakland majority and the “anywhere in the Bay” faction both will be getting what they want.

Which is why it’s been weird to see some people who claimed for years to want a new ballpark “anywhere in the Bay Area, including Oakland” react to this seemingly good news with anger. For anyone understandably worried about the A’s leaving the state, isn’t having more pro-Bay Area prospective ownership groups a good thing? Keeping the A’s in Oakland, obviously, means keeping the A’s in the Bay Area — a win-win for nearly all A’s fans. What’s the problem here?

For years, some have suspected that people were being insincere when they said they were in favor of “building a stadium anywhere in the Bay, whether it’s Oakland or the South Bay.” Kind of like when Wolff said he had “exausted all options in Oakland,” when it’s been pretty well-chronicled that he’s done nothing of the sort.

Well, this latest Matier & Ross article is that crowd’s best opportunity to prove their naysayers wrong. If they’re truly for keeping the A’s “anywhere in the Bay Area,” and it’s looking like the Giants are successfully blocking a move south, then staying in Oakland with new owners is the best way for all A’s fans to get what what they want. If it continues to move in that direction, let’s unite now as a fan base. Feel free to hop on board the pro-Oakland bandwagon. It’s more crowded than you may think, but we’ll make room for you.

Let’s go, Oakland! Let’s go, Bay Area!

Whirlwhind of a Week

Well it’s been a fun few days for us A’s fans, as the never-ending territorial rights battle erupted once again. Frankly, we are tired of this and wish that Lew Wolff would see the writing on the wall, sell the team and go away.

Alas, that hasn’t happened yet.

This week’s set of clashes started with the now-infamous Bill Madden piece. That was followed by an A’s ownership press release offering their debatable version of territorial rights history, followed by a rebuttal from the Giants.

After the dust cleared, it became clear that there is absolutely nothing new in the release that Wolff and his front office employees wrote, and nothing that hasn’t already been discussed ad infinitum in the past three years. Bottom line: It reeks of desperation by Wolff, because there is no need to release something like that if things are going your way. We already have heard all of these same arguments over and over, and presumably so have MLB officials and the rest of the owners.

Meanwhile, we wonder if Wolff hears himself sometimes. He mentioned this week that the Giants are opening a store in Walnut Creek, in the A’s territory. Then he added that he “wishes” there was an A’s store in downtown San Francisco. The comment was a window into how he operates: He wants an A’s store, but he’s certainly not going to spend his money or work hard to build it. Instead, he wants things taken care of for him. Also, he seems clueless to the fact that his comments prove his opponents right, illustrating how the Giants ownership (God, it pains us to say this) is out-hustling the A’s ownership. How bad of an owner must Wolff be if the Giants have opened more retail stores in the A’s territory than the A’s have. That’s on Wolff and everyone knows it — except, apparently, Wolff.

With one of the world’s major retailers as a partner — Gap owner John Fisher — surely Wolff can figure out how to make that work. There are many major retail centers in Oakland and the greater East Bay (including Walnut Creek) that could have hosted an A’s store. Why hasn’t he opened one? Also, if the Giants opening a store in “middle of the A’s market” is such a big deal, why doesn’t Wolff stop it?

The Giants’ rebuttal press release offered some key nuggets of information:

1. That the A’s knew about the territorial rights claims when they purchased the team.
2. That those rights were re-affirmed three times, twice (2005, 2008) under Lew Wolff’s tenure. Did Lew assume (perhaps via his buddy, Commissioner Bud Selig) that all he had to do was give a token effort and then things were just going to go his way?

Folks, this isn’t going to end anytime soon. The Giants are looking out for their interests, as are the A’s. So to call one greedy and the other altruistic is silly. Only one thing remains certain: The Giants are not going away quietly.

And what is Lew Wolff doing in response?

Issuing angry press releases that whine about fairness. That might appeal to his tiny but vocal group of apologists. But it’s very doubtful that it appeals to Selig, MLB and the other billionaire owners who have their their own business interests to protect.

When Wolff first became owner in 2005, he worked hard to show his “Uncle Lew” face, where he played the part of the avuncular sage. But that’s not the real Wolff. His real face is the one we have seen this week, the whiny, self-entitled bellicose one he shows when he is losing and frustrated. Get the message Lew. Time to sell.

Nightengale = Nostradamus? (Not really)

Maybe it’s time to make March 1 a new holiday. We’ll call it Bob Nightengale Day. You remember Bob Nightengale. He’s the USA Today national baseball writer who sent some into a tizzy when he Tweeted this on Christmas Eve:

All signs and top #MLB sources say that the #Athletics will be granted permission by Feb to move to San Jose.

Yep, he predicted — with a tip from unnamed “top MLB sources” — that Bud Selig would make his ruling sometime in February. As in, last month. You probably noticed that his prediction didn’t happen. Just as Lew Wolff’s tiny but vocal group of boosters predicted the same thing would happen last November. Then they said December. And then January. And then Nightengale’s Tweet.

None of it has come true, of course. In fact, February wasn’t even half over when Wolff’s cheerleaders vaguely chose a new “deadline” for a Selig decision: The owners meeting in May.

What are the odds that a decision, after three years since the three-person committee was formed to study the A’s stadium situation, will actually come in May? Not likely. Not likely at all.

At some point, even Wolff has to understand that no communication from his old friend over enough time is all the communication he should need. Through his three years of silence, Selig is saying, “Time to sell, Lewie. Time to sell.”

And we couldn’t agree more.