Selig's toothless threat breaks A's-Coliseum logjam

Selig's toothless threat breaks A's-Coliseum logjam
July 3, 2014, 11:15 am
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Two sides without leverage spent months spitting at each other, and a single note from a guy who makes $30 million a year caused the whole snipe fest to collapse in a gelatinous heap.
Ray Ratto

You can always rely on Bud Selig to rush to the rescue when the minimum effort is required, and this time the minimum was just the right amount.

The Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority got two Oakland City Council members, Larry Reid and Noel Gallo, to turn their votes today and approve the new kind-of-10-year-lease with the A’s that came this close to blowing up. Rebecca Kaplan and Aaron Goodwin were the only two holdouts, something they can tell their friends when the topic turns to "Futile Gestures I Made In Politics." And Reid and Gallo caved because of Selig’s letter to minority owner Lew Wolff last night giving the A’s permission to move . . . nowhere, actually, though the empty threat was sufficient . . . if they didn’t get the lease they wanted. 

It was, and is, Bud’s way of saying, “The A’s don’t have a lot of leverage about where they play, but I will remind you, City of Oakland, that you have even less.”

[RELATED: Report: Selig letting A's leave Oakland]

It was pure power politics, as subtle as a rhinoceros horn up the nethers, and it worked, exposing the Oakland political structure once again as the gaggle of empty suits who know what their problems are but have only a vague understanding of how little power they have to actually affect them. But if the four council members on JPA had done as they were originally ordered to do, the A’s would have stayed in Oakland because there is nowhere else to go.

In other words, two sides without leverage spent months spitting at each other, and a single note from a guy who makes $30 million a year and has 29 other bosses worth billions more caused the whole snipe-fest to collapse in a gelatinous heap.

The A’s were still boxed as badly as they have been all along, because San Jose remains a dead issue and nowhere else is there much civic will for a new ballpark. Selig was delivering a threat that might someday become real, but not for years unless the Giants could be inspired to become the A’s faux-friendly landlords across the pond.

But Oakland, once again misunderstanding its role in the stadium food chain, was boxed even worse, which explains the swiftness of its strategic collapse. The city still refuses to accept the reality that the A’s have been the most sensible option all along because they can produce more dates for any stadium than the Raiders and Warriors combined, and the Warriors have already scheduled their out-date. And they have refused to accept that reality because they don’t like the A’s, and the A’s don’t like them.

Selig’s contribution here was sufficiently splashy if minimal, but it broke this silly logjam. There may be others down the road, because these two sides prefer to bicker over small things than fix a single big one, but today’s crisis-ette has been averted -- laughingly enough, by a single note from a lame-duck commissioner that had no more teeth than a jellyfish has shoes.

Thus, we are momentarily spared the vision of two children on either side of a busy four-lane street who would like to have a fistfight but are reduced to swearing at and flipping each other off at distance.

But let’s be honest -- we wouldn’t know either side any other way. This is who they have become, and they shall be known forever more by their puerile behavior. Now we’ll see what they can do next to disgust us all.


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