There are few stories in the world more heartwarming than politicians and rich people who can’t see eye-to-eye. They have everything you want in entertainment -- hatred, dishonesty, double-dealing, stalling, venality and, really, everything except loan-sharking, gun-running and trampoline sex.
So it comes as no surprise to any living being that the Athletics and the City of Oakland have failed yet again to figure out how to sign their names on a 10-year lease at the Coliseum that has so many holes in it that it looks like a college letter of intent.
This time, the city chose to organize a no-show party, which they couldn’t even hook into a World Cup game, so as not to make a public decision on the lease. They could have turned up to vote yes, or turned up to vote no, it doesn’t matter. It was the organized cowardice that served as such an inspiration.
This is being considered a new reason for people with skin in the game to panic. The pro-Oakland people think the politicians are stalling, except for the pro-Oakland people who think the deal stinks and that they should stall. The anti-Oakland people are laughing at the gridlock, except that their own position, moving the team to San Jose, is gridlocked by its own politicians who have decided to sue Major League Baseball.
In other words, same as it ever was, same as it . . . ever . . . was.
Well, here’s some more good news. It’s not changing any time soon. The lease was wallpaper anyway, a series of a one-year deals that either side could opt out of at any point depending on the fog layer, the value of the dollar, or Sonny Gray’s next MRI.
These sides don’t like or trust each other anyway, and no piece of paper is going to bind them for any longer than they can actually stand each other – which at the current rate of exchange is about 40 minutes. This, beside the fact that they actually need each other more than either side wants to admit. Oakland needs a stadium with 81 dates more than it needs one that has 10 dates, and the preference for the Raiders to the exclusion of the A’s has never made any financial sense at all. Both teams are better than one, but if there’s only one, it should be the A’s. That’s simple math.
Of course, and we only say this to remind you, nothing about this is simple except the principals.
But there’s more in the way of impedimenta here, and that’s on the Major League Baseball side. And no, this isn’t about the San Jose lawsuit which has put another level of stasis on this already dead horse.
Bud Selig is supposed to leave his post as Grand High Imperial Mystic Poobah in January, although we’ll believe that three months after we see it. This means that the next commissioner, whoever that happens to be (and no, Sandy Barbour is off the board), needs to do three things:
• Figure out what he thinks about the Bay Area conundrum.
• Figure out what the owners who supported him think about the Bay Area conundrum.
• Disband the Blue Ribbon Panel from its work in Narnia.
It is clear from the past seven years that MLB’s only interest here has been to get San Jose to withdraw its nuisance suit. That decision, by elected yahoo Chuck Reed and his phalanx of nine-volt advisers, has largely served only to eliminate San Jose’s appeal to the other owners.
But the change in baseball’s pretend leadership has an affect here, because the owners who control that commissioner are the ones the A’s have to work, and they are the ones the A’s haven’t bothered to work before this.
This has been John Fisher and Lew Wolff’s greatest miscalculation in a litany of them – the idea that the owners would do them a solid without really good reasons (our Roman forbears called it “quid pro quo”) to do so.
In other words, the A’s never pressed the flesh with the men who shape policy in Major League Baseball on something that mattered greatly to them, and they are paying for that failure now. That, more than anything else, is why they are stuck in this shotgun marriage with Oakland, one in which each side wants to use the gun on the other.
So yes, Friday’s inaction was part of the greater metaphor with the A’s and Oakland, but slapping both sides out of their current inertia takes a lot more moving parts than wiring the city council to a generator and electrifying them until they gather and vote.
Although, and let’s be honest here, watching politicians in full electrical spasm is always its own reward.